Early last fall I was asked to speak to a group of military wives about the challenges of moving. Not that I’m some kind of expert on it, but I have graduated from the school of life and as a family we now have several moves under our belt. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would be moving in the months after the presentation. Yet as I was preparing the talking points, I had a sneaky feeling God was working on MY heart. It started to feel like this talk was more for me than for anyone in the audience. It’s so funny how God works on us.
We’ve been dealing with moving drama for several months now and our journey isn’t quite over yet. Even though we’re only moving down the street, this has been our hardest move yet. I’ve thought a lot about this process.
Summer time is peak moving season for many people, especially those that are required to relocate because of jobs. Sometimes that’s an exciting prospect and other times it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid. Whichever camp you find yourself in, I wanted to share some of my favorite ideas for a successful move. I don’t intend for this to be a how-to or to minimize the stress and strain of moving. My goal for this post is to encourage each other and lift each other up. I hope to have an exchange of ideas in the comment section because I know there are other great ideas out there. Here’s what’s inspired me….
Mourn the Loss …but Don’t Stay There Too Long
I don’t think we allow ourselves to fully mourn the losses that come with moving. We feel that we have to put on a brave face. Everyone is watching us – our husbands, our kids, our families, our friends – and we don’t want to let them down. But I think our minds and spirits need to take the time to process the changes and we also need to show our children (and those around us) it’s healthy to mourn a loss.
Being honest with our children allows them to process their own feelings. They see how we’re coping and it helps them to cope, in healthy ways. In the book “Moving with Kids” by Lori Collins Burgan, she recommends using the transition of the move as an opportunity to have an honest discussion with kids about how even positive choices can have some painful consequences, but that you can’t let fear paralyze you.
It’s surprising how recognizing a feeling and discussing it with trusted friends and family allows you to process it and move on. Once you’ve worked through the feelings of loss, you’re ready to move forward and start making plans for your new life.
Act Like a Tourist in Your New Town: Have Fun! Find an Adventure!
Research the new area and find out what the locals do for fun. Create a list of fun places you’ll go and see while you’re living there. When you’re meeting new people, ask them their favorite local places or where they take out-of-town guests. Ask yourself: What can we explore here? Where can we eat that is new and exciting? Where are the cool landmarks or museums? It’s amazing the neat places you’ll discover.
In the book, “This is Where You Belong” the author, Melody Warnick, tells us “Emotions follow behavior, feelings follow action.” She says: our towns are what we think they are. If you want to love your town, act like someone who loves their town. When you invest, you feel invested. Among other things, she recommends finding one beautiful place in your town – it could be a park, a fountain, a river walk – just some place that you can go and enjoy the beauty.
She also recommends creating some fun for yourself. A short cut to feeling connected to a place is to do the things that make you happy. Do you like to cook? Take a cooking class. Are you a family of runners? Sign up for a local half-marathon. Pinpoint the ways you like to spend your time and then search out the right kinds of activities.
Use the Move to Improve: The Strategy of a Clean Slate
In “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin, she talks about how a “clean slate” can help launch us into a new habit with less effort. Sometimes when everything is new and different it’s easier to fix those old bad habits. She says, “for instance, the time of moving introduces so much upheaval into our customary habits that change becomes far easier. In one study of people trying to make a change, 36 percent of successful changes were associated with a move to a new place.”
I don’t suggest making any changes during the move (even I’m not that crazy!) but shortly after you’ve settled into your new home, assess your new surroundings and routines and look for an opportunity for some positive changes. It might be the right time to take the karate classes you’ve been meaning to try as a family and – guess what?! – now you live right down the street from a karate studio. Or maybe you’re interested in learning how to knit and your new neighbor knits as a hobby? New places present new opportunities. Keep your eyes and heart open to the new possibilities.
Encourage Past Friendships
There is so much truth in that cute little poem: “Make new friends but keep the old…”
I believe it’s critical to maintain some connection with the friends you and your kids have made. I know life can get busy and keeping in touch is hard but there are little things that you can do to stay connected with faraway friends. You can set up an email account for your older kids and help younger kids write notes or draw pictures to their friends. Kids LOVE giving and receiving mail. We’ve also sent care packages of books or chocolates to our friends or some other regional goodies that can help showcase our new life.
We’re so lucky to live in an age where technology allows us to stay connected at the touch of a button. Thanks to video calls, we’ve had tea time chats with a favorite friend and I’ve been able to “attend” book clubs and Bible studies with friends around the country. Seeing a friendly face during a hard transition can sure lift your spirits.
Keeping those connections is really good for our hearts and it makes the goodbyes a little less final and painful.
Keep a Thankful Journal
When we moved several years ago, a friend gave me a journal and told me she wanted me to record all the amazing things God was going to do for me in my new home. It became our family’s thankful journal. I keep it on the kitchen counter and everyone takes turns writing a blessing or something they’re thankful for it in it. On Thanksgiving, which is the anniversary of when we moved here, we read the journal entries out loud and thank God for all his provisions. It’s very impactful to look back and see how God has blessed us through the year.
Last summer I was working through a book called, “You’re Already Amazing” by Holly Gerth. One section of the book was called “Where am I going?” and it was about knowing the different stages of our life and our goals. She used the Israelites in the Bible as an example – wandering, camping, trusting God, etc. One section really struck me as I was reading it, she was talking about possessing our Promised Land – whatever that might mean for you and your life. She said….
“When the Israelites arrive at the edge of the Promised Land, God tells them to go in and make it fully theirs. He asks us to do the same thing too. That can take a lot of hard work and fighting some battles.”
It was a great reminder that God sends us out. It might not always be easy but he wants us to stake our claim, multiply, thrive and be successful…wherever that might be.
My inspiration for this post was a mixture of my own experiences and the great advice I pulled from the following books: “Moving with Kids” by Lori Collins Burgan, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, “This is Where You Belong” by Melody Warnick, “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin and “You’re Already Amazing” by Holly Gerth. I highly recommend reading them for additional ideas and encouragement (for any season of life).
YOUR TURN: Are you in the process of moving? Or have you moved often? What’s helped you? Do you have any advice to share? Please post in the comments and let’s lift each other up!