Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Explaining to a four year old about moving

It is no secret around our house that we are moving in two months. My husband and I are constantly making lists of all the preparations we need to make and working on them. A couple of months ago, we explained to Miss H that we would be moving this summer. We told her that we would have a new house, a new school, and a new church. What we did not explain to her is that this new house is 1,000 miles away from this one.

She took to the idea pretty easily.

A few weeks ago at bedtime, she asked Mr. Rose a question. "Daddy, when we move to the new house, can we take this blanket with us?" My husband replied, "Of course, sweetie. And do you know what else? We're going to take ALL our stuff with us like your bed and the kitchen table." My four year old beamed at the thought and squealed, "Oh, thank you Daddy!"

When he relayed this story to me, I began to wonder how much she actually grasped about the reality of moving. We "moved" to my parents house for four months last year. Technically, we had a new house, a new school, and a new church. But eventually, we came home. This is probably the reason why she didn't know that we would be taking everything with us to our new house.

The past couple of weeks I have been considering how she is going to do leaving her friends. During the last "move," we wrote letters to her friends and we had a countdown calendar to when we would be seeing her friends again. She is older now and she has made some really close friendships this year. She keeps talking about going to her friend Miss A's house for Halloween and going to Disney World (which is currently right down the road) next Christmas. My quandry has been if I should tell her that she is leaving her friends for good, or just wait for her to make that realization after we have already gone.

Yesterday, on the drive to school Miss H was telling me something about how "after we go on our moving vacation, we can come back to our regular house." I thought, enough is enough, and came out with it.

"Sweetie, you know when we move to the new house with our new school and our new church? Well, we are not going to be coming back here to this house. We won't live here anymore."

The look of pure shock and then overwhelming sadness on her face broke my heart. Her little mouth turned down in that distraught frown and the big tears welled up in her eyes. Finally, the tears and the cries came.

"But, but, but then I will NEVER see my friends AGAIN!"

I reached my hand back to hold her little fingers. I told her that I know it will be sad to leave our friends, but that we could write letters to them and maybe even Skype with some of them. She calmed down more quickly than I thought she would. We dried her tears for the moment, but I am sure there are more to come.

Have you ever had to explain the concept of moving to a young child? How long does it take to really sink in to them? I guess time will only tell us.

PS - Today is my birthday! Did you see my Dress Like a Girl Challenge that I made for myself? Check out all my cute outfits for the week on my facebook page. If you want to play along, wear a dress or a skirt today and upload a picture of yourself to the page.


Kmama said...

Happy Birthday!!

Poor Miss H. I think you handled it really well though. I am sure she'll be sad with moving, but maybe she might even get excited about the thought of making new friends.

By the way, where are you moving?

Liz said...

I do find it incredibly sweet that she called it a moving vacation. I know it will be hard for her, but since Craig and I know that at least one more move is in our future, we tell ourselves they will get over it more quickly the younger they are. Now if they were tweens or teens....oy vey! :)

Kim said...

Happy birthday! I really don't believe they understand such concepts. You are right to think this will come up over and over. She sounds smart and pensive!

singedwingangel said...

Happy Birthday to you.. As a navy brat I know this well. I moved from Virginia to Ky when I was 3 back to Virginia when I was 4 back to KY at 5 started school here, moved in my 4th grade year with mom back to Virginia. Came back to Ky my junior year.
It was hard but it was an adventure as well..

Steph said...

Happy birthday to you!

You are a good mama! I think you handled this beautifully...♥

I cried reading. When I was 6, we moved from PA to AZ. About a day into the drive, I started sobbing and said that I would never have any friends my best friend lived across the street and all my friends lived on our street.

I don't remember my parents talking about it, but I do remember crying. Of course, I made new friends and life was fine. :)

Interestingly enough, when I was 22, my dad and I had a conversation a couple months before he died where he thought about that move and wondered if that was why it was so hard for me to say goodbye to people...if that had impacted me in that way. Truly how could one know, but I am a person who makes the most of my time with people so there are no regrets with goodbyes. :)

Just love on her and keep doing what you do!

(I moved my own son when he was 7 from AZ to PA...he's a-ok too!)


Shell said...

Happy birthday! We've moved quite a bit, but I think only twice when my boys actually understood at all.

We talked about a new place but bringing our things.

And then we just sort of let it go and let them figure it out after the move and talked to them about it when they felt the need to.

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

Happy Birthday!!

I'd say the thing that's great about moving this young is that it will pass. As nice as these friendships are, she'll probably find great friends at her new school and it'll be a distant memory. It would probably be harder if she was older!

diane rene said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! make it wonderful :)

poor girl. moving is hard enough, but she'll get over it when she sees all the new friends she gets to make.

Heather said...

Some of my kids were MUCH older this summer when we moved ten miles from our old house. It was still a HUGE adjustment for them.

Lindsey said...

We just moved a couple months ago from a house to an apartment. My boys are 5 and 3. Daddy didn't come with us. My 5 year old still misses his old house. He misses the view from the windows. He misses the space. He misses his cat. Slowly he is adjusting. Your kids will adjust too.

KLZ said...

Happy birthday!!!

Poor ms h. What a tough realization. Humans are infinitely adaptable though...she'll get there sooner than you think

Just Another Mom of 2 said...

Happy Birthday!! We have had to do this conversation multiple times, so my 5 year old is quite used to it. This next time should be the last, (at least for awhile!) and I think my 2 year old is still young enough to get through it unscathed. We always encourage with details of what a new adventure it will be and what it will have that he's used to (like restaurants, play areas, parks, etc.). good luck with the move I'm sure it will go great!

Melissa said...

We moved when my kids were 3.5 and 18mo. I got a great book on moving for the library and took liberties in using the tone/words of that book to make a photobook from my son (I think I can share it with you through Shutterfly if you want to see it).

We included pictures of all our favorite places, school, library, park and all his friends. We read it a lot. Now we moved from an apartment to a house, so they gained a lot (playroom, yard) so the move was very exciting for them. After about a month my son kept asking when we were going back to our old house. Having the book and pictures really helped him work through it. We still almost 3 years later talk about it and read through it.

My daughter remembers nothing as far as she is concerned we have only lived her. In fact when looking at baby pictures she gets confused, why is the table upstairs, my room isn't blue :-)