It’s a trade day! The ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are swapping blogs on all sorts of topics today. I am over at Twinning Babywise talking about baby led weaning and how having twins impacts using that method.
Here I have Emily from The Journey of Parenthood! We recently switched Ben from his crib to his big boy bed. So far he is following the rules and doing a great job. But I am already looking down the road at when the girls switch beds. Emily has gone through the transition with three kids and has some great tips to make the change easier!
- Build Up the Big Kid Bed: This is my #1 tip about switching from the crib to a bed. TALK IT UP people! Make it a HUGE deal! If you have a new baby on the way also talk about how the crib will be for the new baby and how special it is that he or she is going be a big brother/sister etc. Get them excited for their new bed and they will LOVE it!
- Have Consistent Discipline: This is something you need to have in place prior to the transition. If you’ve been slacking a bit on a consistent discipline routine then get back on it and make sure your child knows that if they disobey Mommy or Daddy then there are consequences and make sure they know you will follow through with those consequences!
- Lay Down the Rules: Decide with your spouse what rules you want to enforce with the new bed and then communicate those to your child. No standing, no jumping, no getting out of bed etc. Give then clear expectations and explain the consequences if they choose to disobey.
- Clear the Room: Remove temptations! Make sure there aren’t toys on the floor where your child will be tempted to get out of the bed and get them. Have a clean room so it’s rather boring for them! Set them up for success!
- Keep Things Similar: Your child is comfortable in their crib so you want to shadow that experience as much as possible. If they are used to white noise, keep it. Black out curtains? Keep em. If they sleep with a lovey, be sure to bring him along for the big switch too!
- Watch and Respond: A video monitor is so crucial for this transition. You want to be able to watch your child like a hawk and RUN into their room the second they step foot out of the bed. You want to catch them in the act so they will understand they aren’t supposed to get out. If they are out and playing and then you get onto them later they will not make the connection as well as if you get onto them the instant they step foot out of the bed.
- Be Stern, Be Firm, Follow Through: When the toddler gets out of the bed be firm with them in reminding them of the rules. Remind them also of the discipline action you will take if they choose to get out of the bed again. Then it’s so important to actually follow through. I like to give that one time of me just getting onto my child so they understand fully what I’m expecting and what will happen if THEY choose to disobey. Then the second time? I follow through with the disciplinary action.
- Praise: Just as you built up the big kid bed, you gotta keep the excitement going! When they have stayed in the bed and it’s time to get up SHOWER them with praise! Make them feel like the biggest big kid ever!
One of the big changes that went along with our move was that Ben switched from his crib to his toddler bed! Yes, he was three years old and still in his crib. Every kid is different and I wouldn’t change a thing about our transition. Here are a few thoughts on how we did our switch and how it worked for us.
To start out, why did we have Ben stay in his crib for so long? We had a few big reasons.
1) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t mess with sleep. If something is working, why change it? Ben adored his crib. He was happy and comfortable there. He slept well there. He never tried to climb out and didn’t seem to mind that it was still a crib. Why change something that was working? I don’t think age alone is a good enough reason to make a big change like this. We bought Ben’s crib because it converted to a toddler bed, and with twins coming we knew we would end up either buying a a new crib and a toddler bed for Ben, giving his crib to one of the girls, or we could buy two new cribs. Almost all the cribs these days transition to toddler beds, so would cost us the same either way. We would have to buy two beds, so why take Ben’s bed, which he loved, away from him? Keeping him in the crib just made sense.
2) I liked how safe Ben was in the crib. Ben never tried to get out of his crib on his own. (I know, I am very lucky and so thankful for this.) He was contained all night and couldn’t get into trouble. We had planned to have all three kids sleeping in the same room for a bit at our old house. I liked the idea that Ben couldn’t get up at night and mess around, potentially waking up his sisters. Our old house wasn’t very big, so Ben’s/the girls’ room became a storage site as we got organized before the girls were born. It also became a giant box zone while we were packing. Ben being in his crib meant we could have these things in his room and he would still be safe. Yes, this is a bit of laziness on my part. But what can I say? Ben was safe and happy in his crib.
3) We had a lot of changes going on from when Ben was about two and a half to three. First of all, the girls were born. That is a huge change for anyone, but it is especially huge for a toddler. The girls took a lot of my time and attention and I wanted Ben to have his literal comfort zone in his bed. That was his space and his alone, no babies in it. Besides suddenly having two little babies taking up his mommy’s time, he also was no longer going to the office every day. His entire routine was changed. I wanted to keep anything consistent for him I could. Then once we got settled into our new routine we up and move across the country. Packing was chaotic and again, I wanted to give Ben what consistency I could. I think it worked, Ben slept really well despite all that we threw at him.
4) Ben is old enough to really get what is happening now that we have made the switch. Ben understands that he has to stay in his bed. This isn’t to say he couldn’t or wouldn’t have understood at a younger age, but at three years old he for sure gets it. He knows he needs to stay in his bed and he understands consequences. We really played up how exciting a big boy bed was, and we also spoke about how important it was to stay in the bed. At three he is old enough to call out for us (loudly) at night, and he is old enough to understand when we say wait or just a minute. Along with understanding the need to stay in the bed, he also was old enough to be really excited about the change. This made moving more enjoyable for him, he got to upgrade his bed! Anything that would help make him happy about our move was a good thing in my book.
So why a toddler bed? Why not a twin or other regular bed? There are lots of options when it comes to moving beyond a crib. We thought about several things and looked into different options. But when it came down to it our decision was pretty simple.
1) It was the cheapest option. We bought our kids’ cribs planning on switching them to toddler beds as they got older. As I said most cribs these days transition and are not a ton of money. All we had to do to make Ben’s crib a toddler bed was take one of the sides off. We didn’t need to buy a new frame or a new mattress. It was really easy (of course I didn’t put the bed together, so Pat may have other opinions. 😉 ) We don’t like to spend money we don’t need to, so this was big.
2) We had an easy fix if Ben didn’t stay in the bed. If Ben gets out of bed too much in the short term we can just turn the bed around so the open side is against the wall. Get out of bed, lose the privilege of the big boy bed. So far we haven’t had to do this. If it gets too bad we can always put the side completely back on. We would have to have some major issues to do that, but I like that we have concrete, relatively easy ways to have natural consequences to misbehaving.
3) It fit the space we had. Ben has his own room at our new house, but that doesn’t mean it is a huge room. We could fit a twin in it. The toddler bed is smaller and gives Ben more room to play. We wanted this more than for him to have a bigger bed. He isn’t very big, he doesn’t need a giant bed to sleep in right now.
4) It was still Ben’s bed. Ben has always loved his bed. This was still his. So while he was excited about all the new changes we had going on, he still had a place that was familiar and his to sleep in. I’m sure it can be scary to a little kid to be in a new room in a bed that suddenly has a big open side on it when it used to be enclosed and secure. But this was Ben’s own bed, a place he has always been safe. That’s a good thing.
I don’t think there is one right way to make the change from crib to toddler bed. Each child is unique and has his own needs in this situation. But I am happy with how we handled Ben’s transition. I hope to keep the girls in their cribs as long as possible, but we will make that sort of switch as we need to. Overall Ben’s sleep has stayed solid, he made a great transition in the move, and he is happy. That is the most important thing.
Once we made the decision to move and took our epic road trip, we were ready to get settled again. Pat and I are so grateful to my Aunt Gail and Uncle Dan for letting us stay at their place. It was so nice to have a place to stay while we looked for a home. First of all, it saved us money from having to stay in a hotel. It let Pat get down here quickly to start his job and have a comfortable place to stay. Plus it saved us from having to just pick a place fast or sight unseen just to have somewhere to be. It gave me the chance to look around and find a place that met our needs and was at the right price. Yes, Pat was here early, but really we all know I wanted to be the one with a major say in our new home. As an added bonus they have a really nice house (with a pool!) so the kids and I got a mini vacation feel at the end of our long trip! Ben loved swimming and playing at the house. The girls had fun too! We did take them swimming, their first time! They both enjoyed it for the most part. Ali giggled and smiled the whole time. She was really into it. Sammy was a little more subtle about it, as per usual. She clung to us pretty tightly, but she had her tiny smile on. With two babies, a toddler, and only two parents the girls didn’t swim much. Pat and I took turns with Ben in the pool. We loved all the pool time we got to have!
|Dagger was very happy to be out of the car. And she adored the nice digs at Aunt Gail and Uncle Dan’s.|
|Swimming! Ben was so happy to get to swim so much. We took advantage of the back yard pool!|
|We of course visited Target several times. I just makes sense to be a pirate there.|
|Ben got his cowboy hat on the drive. He loved wearing it around the house!|
|Between looking at homes and getting our bearings we found a library to visit! We are always into a good library.|
|Ben is really into trains right now.|
|Sammy was pretty happy to be out and about.|
|Ali loved it too!|
|Ben liked the fun kids’ computers best.|
|Super hero shenanigans were had, naturally. 😛|
Omi and Meo stayed around after the first weekend. Omi had to head back for work, but Meo stayed the whole next week. This was huge. I spent several days driving all over the place looking at potential homes. Having someone to watch the kids made this so much easier. I took a look at several and found one I really liked. We are renting for a year to get a feel for the area and see where we actually want to settle. Fortunately for us we got the one I liked best!! Yay! It worked out perfectly that I found out we got the house we wanted just before we took Meo to the airport to fly home. It was wonderful to know we had a place to call our own!
Of course finding the place didn’t mean we were done. We had to do that pesky actually move in, unpack, and get our new lives set up stuff. (Part of that was getting internet set up, which took some time. This all contributed to the lack of blogging for a bit.) The house we found is actually about 45 minutes to an hour away from my aunt and uncle. We spent a good deal of time in the car driving back and forth as we got everything set up. We signed a the lease midweek, but couldn’t get movers right away. The kids and I drove back and forth to set up what we could and take care of all that pesky stuff that goes with moving across state lines. I have to brag here, the kids were so good with all of this! We had to get to the DMV, the post office, wait for the gas man, make phone calls, and drive all over. Ali and Sammy had to take some car naps, which isn’t my favorite thing to do. But it is hard to get things done an hour away in the short time between naps! Ben had to spend a lot of time in the car and waiting in lines. All three of them were amazing. (I think I’m going to have to do a post just on how much babywise played a part in this.) Moving isn’t easy as an adult, and the kids rolled with everything so well.
|This was where we spent a lot of our time.|
|And this was a common sight too. Poor kids! They were seriously such troopers.|
I tried to have some fun with the kids in all the craziness. Ben loves the new house. He really enjoyed running around when nothing was moved in yet! The girls have gotten so busy too! They aren’t officially crawling yet, thank goodness. But they wiggle and roll and manage to get all over the place! It doesn’t seem to be directed motion yet. Ben didn’t crawl until he was almost a year old and it was wonderful. It is so much easier to keep the kids safe when they stay where you put them! Plus once Ben did start crawling he was older and better able to understand limits and the word no. I admit I’m a little concerned with how much the girls are able to wiggle around this young. Two of them getting around on their own?! I’m not ready! It is fun to watch them play at least. 🙂
|So much room!|
|Ben loved getting to sit in his little chair and watch movies in the new house. He looks so cute!|
Moving day had to take place on a week day, so it was just me and the kids. I love having a three bedroom. I was able to have the kids all in one room to stay safe while the movers worked. They had fun too!
|Just hanging out in the girls’ room. Nice and empty.
And the rest of the house…
Our new home is a ranch. I wasn’t sure what I would think of that, being used to stairs and all. But with the little ones let me tell you it is awesome. I can have all three kids playing in their rooms and still see them and hear them well. I can get to them in no time if needed. It really made unpacking easier.
|Kids playing quietly in their own rooms? Yeah, I can get used to that. 😉|
Over the weekend Pat was able to help us out. Ben was super pumped to help Pat out. Yeah, you can imagine how much ‘help’ the three year old offered up, but it was adorable to watch the two of them together. Pat was so great and patient, explaining everything he was doing and finding ways for Ben to participate. I think it really helped Ben feel comfortable in his new home. He had a sense of ownership from helping out.
|Ben saw his ball factory peeking out of a box. His wonderful daddy stopped everything else to get it put back together. Who needs beds? We need our toys! 🙂|
|Building Ali and Sammy’s beds.|
|Helping is exhausting.|
Another big thing with the move was finally getting the kids into their ‘new’ beds! Ben was still in his crib. Yes, he did just turn three and was still in a crib. He loved it and never tried to climb out. When it comes to sleep I tend to stick to a ‘if it ain’t broke…’ mentality. Ben slept really well in his crib and was happy. Moving gave us the perfect chance to turn his bed into a toddler bed. It added to the excitement of the move. He loves it! And he has been doing really well with staying in it! We talked up the big boy bed for a long time, really emphasizing that you do not get out of bed. So far so good. We’ll see how he does long term. The girls had their cribs set up in our old house, but they hadn’t really slept in them much. They had napped in them, they just hadn’t done overnight there yet. At our old place all three kids shared one room and I was worried they would all wake each other up. As I have said a lot, I love sleep and don’t like to mess with what is working. So we just kept the girls in our room. Same as with Ben, I didn’t see the point of making big changes right before the Major Change of moving, so the girls ended up staying in our room and sleeping together for a lot longer than planned. Some of my worries were for nothing. Ben, Ali, and Sammy all slept in the same room at my aunt and uncle’s place and they did well! This move came at a great time though, because Ali and Sammy were starting to wake each other up with all their wiggling around. I was worried about switching them to cribs so late, but they seem to like the cribs! They are sleeping nicely in their beds and don’t seem to mind being on their own.
|So much room! (Sammy)|
|New friends to look at! (Ali)|
|Big boy bed!!|
So that is the story of our move! We packed, took a three day drive, found a new house, and got all moved in. It’s been busy, but we are so happy with our decision to do this. I love our new house. The kids seem really happy. And Pat is enjoying his new job. Now we have to focus on finding new activities and friends here!
|Loving our new home!!!|
After making the decision to move and packing up, we were ready for our road trip! According to google maps, it was supposed to take 25 hours to make our drive. Pat managed to do that in two days. Our trip was going to be a little different. It was three kids, Meo, and me in the van. Omi was driving our UHaul. Don’t worry, he wasn’t alone. Dagger was riding with him. (Yep, Omi got to go on a three day road trip with our cat. Overall he said she wasn’t a bad travel companion, she did just really sleep the whole time. I was a little worried about how Dagger would take the drive, but I was also a bit jealous as she got some nice pills from the vet to help her relax on the drive.) With our little caravan I was hoping to get to my aunt and uncle’s place in three days. I knew our stops would take a bit longer, but I thought we could do it.
We packed up the van the day before we left. Meo helped out by watching all three kiddos while Omi and I took care of the truck business and finished cleaning up the house a bit. We got up bright and early the next morning and got on the road!
|That truck was filled to the brim!|
|Omi and me,|
I have to say, overall the kids were champs. The girls were not overly thrilled with the whole adventure. They are social little ladies. Being stuck in their rear facing seats without anyone to see for long stretches of time is tough for them. But they are still babies, and that is the only safe way for them to drive. With their seats and all the other stuff we had in the van there was no room for anyone to sit back with them. When we stopped they were very happy to be turned around and see people. I was able to nurse them in the car while Meo would run in to rest stops then we would switch. Every stop took about half an hour to get everyone fed and changed, but we had a good system! The girls did complain a bit on the drive, but they got into their groove by the second day.
Ben was amazing on the drive! This kid was so excited to go see his Daddy. Every time we would start driving he would yell out, “To infinity and beyond!” This was usually followed by, “We’re coming to save you, Daddy!” I’m not quite sure what we were saving him from, but it was super cute. I was a little worried about having an almost three year old on a three day car trip, but I was so happy with how well Ben did! We do have a car dvd player. We have managed to lose the cord to plug it into the car though, so it only has 5 hours of battery life at a time. Well, we were driving for about 10 hours a day. Ben had a lot of time without any real entertainment, but he was amazing! We looked out the window and talked about what we saw. We talked about our new home. We practiced numbers and counting. I think he was just so happy that we were finally on our way to Daddy that he didn’t care that he was in the car. After the first day on the road he didn’t even want to get out at most rest stops. He asked me to change his diaper in the car and ate quickly while the girls nursed. He did seem to really enjoy eating in the car. That is something that only happens on road trips, so it was a pretty big treat. The drive was also made so much better by having Meo with us. It was so helpful to have someone to pass back water, snacks, and toys while I focused on the road.
We were happy that our trip took us pretty close to where Gramma and Grampa live! We were super happy that the whole Arkansas crew took the time to drive out and meet us at the end of our first day!! It was wonderful to see everyone! This was the first time all the cousins were meeting. Ben hadn’t seen Charlotte, Joe, and Ella since last summer. (We were going to go there for Christmas, but I was too pregnant to travel.) It was crazy, but so much fun! My kids were pretty tired from the long drive and just the late night. (They usually go to bed between 7 and 7:30) The girls weren’t overly thrilled at the end of that first day, so it was nice for them to get extra cuddles and attention. Ben loves running around with his cousins. They are all so great with him! The kids might not get to see each other very often, but when they do they fold Ben right into their crew as one of them. Joe and Ben ran around the hotel lobby while Charlotte and Ella cooed over Ali and Sammy. We headed out to grab some dinner. Fortunately we were the only people in the Fazolis we went to, because the kids were a little crazy. It was great to get to see Aunt Lindsay and Uncle Chris too! I always have fun when we all get together. It was a bummer Pat wasn’t there too, but we had fun in our quick visit.
I got a few pictures, but I also spent a lot of time enjoying the company and running around with the kids. I love my nieces and nephew so much! I was so happy to get to see them!
|Ella with Ali and Grampa! Ella and Charlotte loved holding their little cousins.|
|Ali loved Charlotte! She stared at her happily through most of the dinner. And of course the kids got tons of Gramma hugs. 🙂|
|Joe and Ben on the run! (Fortunately the lobby was empty except for our group)|
|Ella, Joe, and Ben. He loves hanging out with the big kids!|
|Sammy and Charlotte (How grown up is Charlotte getting?!)|
|Ben loved being silly with Joe.|
|Sammy and Grampa|
|Ben and Grampa! I had noted how I didn’t have any pictures of these two, so I made sure to get a shot!|
After dinner the crew had to head back home, and my kiddos had to get to bed. They were so tired! Our second day didn’t have the excitement of seeing family at the end, but the kids did even better than the first. The girls weren’t quite as unhappy with the drive. Ben was focused on getting to Daddy, so he did really well again!
One part of the trip I was curious about was how the kids would do in a hotel. I brought the girls’ pack and play in the car. They are still so little it was easier to bring their bed. Plus I wanted to try to give them a familiar place so hopefully they would sleep well. All the kids slept really well! Ben was a big kid and got to sleep in a big bed for the first time. Yes, he still sleeps in a crib. He loves his crib and sleeps really well in it. I don’t like to mess with what works, especially with sleep. But this was already so different I thought we could try him out in a bed. He loved it and stayed in bed! It helped that the beds were really tall. He couldn’t climb up by himself, so it was less tempting for him to get down. Our first night we had two beds in the room. He wanted me to sleep with him, so we started together. Sharing a bed with Ben is basically how you would think sharing with an almost three year old would be. He wanted to share a pillow, and the two of us were right at the edge of the bed. It was super sweet, and I did enjoy a chance to snuggle with my little guy. But once he fell asleep I went to the other bed. The second night we just had one big king bed. Yeah, not my best night sleep. Ben wanted to be right with me, but he had to decide where my arms went. I think his sleep time friends had more room than Ben and me together. But again everyone slept all night long, so I was happy!
|The kids enjoying the hotel!|
|Ali and Sammy were so happy to have room to wiggle!|
|Yes, all those friends shared the bed with us. I got that tiny part to the left of Ben. 😛|
|We got to go swimming the second night! Score!|
|We only got a picture of him running back.|
As I mentioned earlier, we have packed up and moved across the country! I know this has come as a surprise to some people. Honestly it was a bit of a surprise to us! We had tossed the idea around a little, but I wasn’t entirely expecting it to actually happen. The reasoning is pretty standard. Pat had been looking around for a new job. We had toyed with the idea of moving somewhere else. I loved where we used to live, and really I didn’t want to leave it. But what I just wanted isn’t what is most important. What is most important is giving our family the best opportunities Pat and I can. My only stipulation for moving was that I wanted to go somewhere we already had family. It can be hard to move to a new city, especially with three small children. I like to know I have people I can call on in an emergency who are required to help out. 😉
Towards the end of May Pat decided to take a look around at different options. In June he applied to the new school he is now at. We were excited when he got an interview, but we didn’t make any decisions or think too hard about it then. I mean, who knew what would happen, why over think it? The interview went well, so I admit I started to over think a bit. It was a big move if we decided to go it. Honestly I wavered a bit on whether or not I wanted Pat to get the job. Getting it would be a great opportunity. He would make a good career move. We would have a good excuse to get a new place. (I loved our home but our family was getting too big for it!) We could move to a new area and explore a great place we had heard good things about. But it would mean leaving home. I liked our life in our old place. I felt like the kids and I were really hitting a good stride with friends, activities, and had a good routine in place. Plus Ben was enrolled in preschool. But those are things we could rebuild in our new place. I decided to pray about it and see where God led us.
We found out at the end of June that Pat got the job! I was so excited for him. But then we had a tough decision to make- do we take a chance and go for it? Or do we stay with where we were. There were endless discussions about this. I went back and forth a lot. Pat was great and let me think on it. He really took my input on how a big move like this would impact our family to heart. Fourth of July weekend we made the big decision- Pat would take the job and we would move! (Fourth of July is turning into a big time of announcements for us!)
Once the decision was made things moved quickly. Pat had to be available for work starting July 26. That did not leave us a lot of time to get things done! First we threw together our garage sale to get rid of as much as possible. I had hoarded all our baby stuff after Ben was born, knowing we were going to have more kids. As the girls were done with things I was just saving them until I could sell them in my moms group resale. So we had a lot of things to go. Then Pat had to make sure he had all his ducks in a row to head out. As I mentioned earlier, I only wanted to move to places we had family. Fortunately for us my aunt and uncle live in the area we moved to, so we were able to stay with them while we transitioned. Pat left on his cross country drive on June 20. After two weeks of sorting, cleaning, organizing, and selling, we still had a lot to do.
Once Pat was on his way it was up to me to, well, pretty much finish everything else up. I had pack up our house and find a way to get all of us to the southwest. I am so grateful that Meo and Omi were able to help out. It is hard to pack with three little ones around! Ben still needed attention, the girls needed attention. Plus I had to pack the bedrooms. This was hard because the only time I had was during nap time, which means someone was sleeping in the rooms! Meo and Omi also had to come to Ben’s last swim lessons. (They were parent and child lessons, so someone needed to be with the girls while I was in the pool with Ben.) And in general they just gave the kids the extra attention they needed during a stressful time. (And me too!)
The kids were really champs during all this. Ben missed Pat a lot. We had a lot of talks about how it was okay to feel sad. It was hard to have him so far away. And moving would be very different. I didn’t think he would fully understand that we were going away and not coming back basically, but I worked with him to help with this transition.
After three weeks of busily packing up our lives, we headed out! I really appreciate all the help I got from family and friends during those busy three weeks. Being the only parent present can be tough, even though I am used to staying home with the kids all day. We managed to have some fun though. Ben got really into his imaginative play. He gave me some challenges with that- a lot of things I thought of to use in our costumes was already packed! I think we did pretty well with limited resources though. The girls did very well with all the changes too. They were pretty happy to play on their play mat. Poor things kept getting a smaller and smaller play area as the piles of boxes grew! Overall it was a busy, kind of stressful time of packing and prepping. But we got through it well and were ready to find our new home.
Moving is a big deal, regardless of how old you are. But when are two (almost three) and moving not only out of the only home you’ve ever known, but to an entirely different part of the country it is an even bigger deal. While I know we are making a great decision for our family in this major move, I was worried about how it would affect the kids. Now I am for sure no expert on this. But we did just go through it and so far the kids are doing well! Okay, the girls don’t really care, seeing as they are only seven months old. We did completely change Ben’s world though, so here is how I tried to help him through the transition.
1) Really talk up the new place. I found any reason I could to explain why our new town was going to be amazing. I told Ben all about how it would be warmer. We would be closer to two of his cousins. I told him our new town would have parks. He would get to have his own room. We would have a new house with a little more room for his toys. And the best thing of all- Daddy was already there! That made everything about our new place exciting. I watched my tone when I talked about the move. Moving is a big old pain a lot of the time, but I tried to use happy and excited tones whenever we talked about it. I didn’t want Ben to catch on to my frustrated moments and equate them with where we were going. This was a great adventure!
2) Show real images of the new location. We made sure to Skype with Pat every night so Ben could see where we would be going. I think this helped make it a more concrete location in Ben’s mind, and not just some unknown we were heading toward. Of course it isn’t always possible to have someone else go ahead and be waiting at the new destination. But I think showing pictures of real places where you will be going would work as well. We also pulled out pictures of the family he would be seeing more often and talked about them frequently. My goal with this was to have Ben feel like he knew this family, even though in the past we would only see them every couple of years.
3) Make a plan for a fun event in the new place as soon as possible. For us we were pretty lucky- Ben’s birthday was two weeks after we moved. We talked about how his birthday party would be in our new home. We planned his birthday party there. (Again we are lucky. Since he is turning just three years old he was pretty happy with swimming, cake, and presents for his party) I don’t think it has to be as big as a birthday party. Plan a trip to a favorite restaurant, or maybe another fun activity like mini golf. Maybe a big family movie night once everything is unpacked. Anything that your child can look forward to. This also gives you something fun to think about in the middle of all the planning.
4) Involve the child in the packing process. This can be hard if the kid is young, like Ben. But I had him help me put his toys in boxes. Yes, I sometimes had to go back during naps and repack a little more efficiently. But he knew his items were being packed up because he did it. I also let him play in the boxes. What kid doesn’t love a box? We made tunnels and forts, and tried to make the whole thing as fun as possible. I also talked ad nauseam about what I was doing as I packed. What I was packing, why I was packing it, and when we would open it again.
5) Maintain what consistency you can. All through the packing process we still kept naps and independent play time going. We still went to playgroup. We finished Ben’s swim lessons. Yes, it meant packing took a little longer. But Ben got to keep his structure, which little ones really need. I also made sure to pack his sleep friends with us in the car to have on the road. Yes, it meant bringing a few extra things in the car. I think it was worth it for Ben to feel comforted and sleep well on the road and when we got to our new place. I tried to pack his favorite shirts and socks in his suitcase to have right away. I brought some favorite dvds to watch in the car. I feel better when I have my favorite things with me, so I assume he does too.
6) Talk about how it is okay to be sad. I encouraged Ben to tell me when he was feeling sad about the move. He would often tell me he was sad because he missed Daddy. Whenever he did this I would stop what I was doing and sit down to talk with him. I told him it was okay to feel sad, but explained why we were going through the changes we were. I think allowing Ben to express his feelings and reaffirming that it is okay to feel sad and less than happy about the changes helped him out.
7) Show examples of changes that the child can relate to. We got lucky here. Ben adores Toy Story, and in the first movie Andy moves! Ben really related to this, and his Buzz and Woody were car friends on his move just like with Andy. We also watched Inside Out a lot during the packing process. I’m not sure how much Ben related to Riley’s move, as she is older than he is. But he recognizes the feelings characters, and it helped him put words and understanding to what he was going through emotionally. I know not everyone is in to screen time, but it worked for Ben. The library has a ton of books on moving and making these kinds of changes.
8) Make a point of saying goodbye. On our last day and night at our old house Ben and I talked about how we were leaving soon. We took the time to say thank you to our old house for letting us live in it. We said we had enjoyed living there, but it was time to move on. When Ben asks about the old house now, I remind him that we thanked the old home and said goodbye. He still misses it, but I do think it helped give a sense of closure.
These are the eight big ways I tried to help Ben adjust to moving across the country. Of course these aren’t the only ways. And we haven’t been here very long, so I know we are still in the process of transitioning. Ben will miss our old home, that is only normal. I think talking about it is the best thing I can do to help him out. I want him to know it is okay to feel sad. I also like to remind him of all the good that is coming from our big change. Most important, I remind him of how loved he is. I remind him that he is safe with his family. Kids are resilient and able to handle a lot!
It’s a Babywise Friendly Blog Network pinterest day! Everyone is talking about transitions. Be sure to check them all out!