Q.My husband is being transferred to a city 100 miles away. Since the company will buy our house, we can choose when we will make the move.
My son is in the second grade and my daughter is in kindergarten. Would it be better for them to finish out the school year in the town where we now live or should we just take the plunge and move this winter? There would be a strain in either case, but which decision would be less stressful?
If we stayed here for a while, my husband could commute on weekends. It would be quite an expense, but I want to do what is best for the children.
A.It's unselfish of you to put the children's interests first, but be sure what their interests really are.
School is important to your children and so are their friends, but you and your husband are far more important to them than anyone else. That's what a family is all about. If one person has a problem, everyone else lifts a corner of the load so it won't be too heavy.
You'll find you will all fare better if you move at the same time.
There will be some tension whenever you leave, of course; a move is hard on everyone. Change unsettles the young, because they don't know what to expect. It will also be hard on you, because you're the point person, the one who has to handle a thousand details. The longer your move is extended, the more work you will make for yourself and the more tiresome it will be, for you and everyone else.
As hard as the move may be for you and the children, it may be hardest of all on your husband. He's carrying a great deal of freight. Even when both parents work, the husband usually thinks of himself as the essential breadwinner and feels financially pressured to succeed.
His pyschological burden is still heavier. Not only is he making a change that may affect his whole career, but also he is changing the lives of the three people he loves most. He needs all of you with him, each step of the way.
Moreover, there are some real pluses to a January move.
Everyone will make a big fuss over your children when they leave the old school in mid-year, and new classmates will welcome them as a fine diversion. By then the weather is dreary; friends are boring; Christmas toys are broken; and it's a long, long time until summer. To have someone new in the class is thrilling, and your children will be the winners. School is definitely the best place to make new friends.
If you move in June, it might mean a bleak summer for your children, since many kids in their new neighborhood will be on vacations or in day camps.
Whenever you go, however, the move can be a success, as long as you treat it as an adventure and involve your children in every aspect of it.
Ask them to close their eyes and imagine the kind of street they'd like to live on, the house they'd like to have, the color of their room. You'll get a better understanding of their special likes and dislikes, and they'll like knowing that you care about their opinion.
And since you live so close to your new home, you can take your children to visit the new town once or twice before you move. They can go with you to meet the merchants, get their library cards, and help you find the recreation center, the cleaners and the best supermarket. If your second-grader makes maps of your new neighborhood for himself and his little sister, you'll find they'll feel more at home, even though the maps won't be great. Children need to translate words into concrete information.
They'll especially want to see their new school before they move, for the unknown is always scary. If you ask in advance, the principal will let them spend a day in the classes they will join. He or she may even let you buy some workbooks of material already learned in class, so the work will seem easy and they'll feel more comfortable with school when they start.
For the move itself, have your children help you pack their toys, including the scruffiest ones. They're throwing out enough as it is.
This will be a good time to bring up the fears of moving, even though they'll probably tell you there aren't any. Just talk about how tough some changes were for you at 5 and 7 -- at least before they happened. It will help the children adjust better.
You'll also want to let them have a little party to tell their friends goodbye, and allow a few friends to visit for one-at-a-time overnights so they can talk about the weekends they'll spend together, 100 miles away. Friendships don't end just because you're moving, and your children should know that.
On moving day you'll want them to carry a few of their special treasures in the car and, upon arriving at the new home, to decide where their beds and their bureaus should go. It will help them feel in charge of their lives.
You'll also find that moving is easier if you get their rooms set up first, and then have a Big Mac celebration on the floor, in the middle of all the moving boxes, before you do anything else.
Moving is an adventure and your children are a part of it, from beginning to end.