True Fact: Kids Bounce Back Easily
True Fact: Even thought we, as parents, know they will be ok, it is never easy to see them upset.
Moving with a 8 year old isn't easy. They're still small, but not too small that they don't know what is going on and they're big enough to make you feel guilty and to be attached to their friends and the place where they live. Victoria is a tough little girl, but at the same time, she is a planner and very attached to her things and the people around her.
My little one has been through a roller coast of emotions for the past 2 months or so. As soon as we found out that we'd be moving, we told Victoria. I was driving her back from school and looked through my rear-view mirror as I told her. It was just like a normal conversation, my voice was upbeat, not melancholic and as I watched her facial expression, I noticed she was serious. I could almost touch all the thoughts going through her mind. When Victoria noticed me looking at her, she smiled. I asked what she thought about it and she said: "It's cool".
As the days went by and it started to become more real, to all of us, Victoria got more and more upset. She was very close to her friends at school and in the neighborhood, she loved her teacher and her home.
A few dialogues we've had:
V: "Are we going to be here for the school parties"?
(her school does about 4-5 classroom parties each year and Victoria loves a good party)
Me: "No, we'll move before the parties happen."
When I was separating clothes to give away:
Me: "Victoria, this dress is very small, should we give it away?"
V: "Noooo, this is my favorite dress, you are dragging me away from my friends and now you want to rip my clothes away from me as well?"
(Yes, very dramatic)
And many times over, we heard:
V: "I don't want to go to DC!"
"I hate your new job" (directed at my husband)
"I want to stay with my friends"
"I don't care what you say, Phoenix is better"
Tears and more tears.
How we dealt with it:
- We talked and talked and talked.
- Make it out to be an adventure.
- Show pictures of the new town, state, country. The internet is great for that.
- As my father-in-law put it; we sold Washington DC, such as, snow, squirrels, the place where she was born, change of leaves, different seasons, cooler temperatures, the new baby panda born in the zoo... anything and everything we could think of.
- Take them to favorite restaurants, play areas, allow them to "say goodbye", sort of speak, to their town and favorite places.
Oregano's it is, they don't have this delicious chain in the East Coast.
- Always be positive, even if you have some doubts in your heart, don't let it show. Kids pick up on everything, they need to fill like it's a positive thing and that everything will be ok.
- On the same note, be honest. If they ask you questions, which they will, answer them honestly, such as, Victoria asked many times when we'd be back to Phoenix or if we could go back to so and so's birthdays. The answer was always: "I don't know, but I don't think we will be back anytime soon" or "We will not be back next year to make it for the birthday party" or "We will be back, but we don't know when". These are all truthful answers, with this new job, we will be living in different places, and we have no clue when we will be back in Phoenix.
- Speak to their friends' parents, explain how your child is feeling and how you are taking it, they will be your allies.
- Throw a going away party, we had a pool party for Victoria and her best friends. It was a surprise party and if you are doing that, make sure to advise the parents of it, because kids cannot keep secrets!!! Victoria's friends' parents didn't tell their kids until the day of or the day before (when they weren't going to see each other anymore).
- Encourage them to write notes and letters to their friends. I've always encouraged Victoria to write little thank you notes, friendship notes, etc. So, she started writing these notes to her friends without any prompts from me, I loved them, they're so honest.
- Make them part of everything. If there are decisions to be made, involve them, such as, my husband's company is placing us in an apartment, we told her what the options were and asked her what her top 2 choices were. Although it wasn't a guarantee, it makes her feel part of the decisions.
- Once they see you making to do lists (believe me, you will have many of those), they'll want to do their own, encourage that as well.
- Anytime there is a big part of the move happening, explain what is going on and when, such as, have them help pack their own things, Victoria even helped bring her things to the car (we drove). Or, on the day of the move, she was helping the mover pack her bedroom, they were all so great with her, they themselves involved her in the move, wrote her name on the boxes and even wrote her stuffed animals' names on some of the boxes. They were great. A little side note: make sure they're not getting on the way of the movers, they won't be happy about it.
- Read books. I ordered on Amazon the book: "Moving Planet Isn't Easy". It's short and easy to read, made for younger children. She loved it, she tried saying, it wasn't the same because she wasn't moving planets, etc, but she really liked it and we read it many times over.
- With an empty house do a little fashion show, a dance competition and an echo contest.
- Take them around the neighborhood and say bye to the neighbors (the nice ones). And in your heart, cry a little.
It's your responsibility to guide them through this. They most probably will be very sensitive