You could say that we are pros at moving. My husband is in the military and moving is just a way of life for us. We have three children– 13, 11 and 9. We have lived in 6 different states and 2 different countries. We are excellent unpackers. This summer we moved from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Stuttgart, Germany. Without question, the furthest move we’ve ever made. In some ways, it was the easiest of all the moves. There is very little choice about a lot of things, and that makes it very easy to just sit back and enjoy the ride. In other ways, it has been the most challenging.
I’m writing this to you from my hotel room that I have lived in for 8 weeks. Yes, you read that correctly.
We’ve lived in a hotel for 2 months waiting for our house to be ready. People ask us all the time how our kids feel about moving around so much. They like it and get just as itchy as I do when we have been in the same place for more than 2 years. The thing that most people don’t understand is that this is the only life my children have ever known. They’ve never lived in the same house their entire lives like I did. They have been to 20+ schools. They have friends all over the world. They are incredibly well-traveled. They are flexible and adaptable.
That isn’t to say it isn’t hard on them, there are really hard parts. But also incredibly amazing and rewarding parts.
We spent the summer traveling around Italy, Greece, France and Germany. That would not have been possible if we stayed put.
Images were taken in Amalfi, Italy. Summer 2017.
As they have gotten older, it is even more important to me that we make the moves as easy for them as we can. There are a lot of things that my husband and I do to make the transition as seamless as possible. Here are some things that have worked for us:
Include them in the process. This time around, the kids were a part of the decision-making process. We showed them our options and let them decide where they wanted to go. They knew that it was not a guarantee and some were long shots, but they felt like they had a say and it meant a lot to them that they were included. We also let them plan some of the travel and I think that they enjoyed the planning process almost as much as the traveling.
Just get it over with. Unpacking is the worst. You are always so happy to get your stuff back, but there are so. many. boxes. Dive in and just get it done. We aim for three days to have everything unpacked, put away and the pictures hanging on the walls. It is an exhausting three days, but it begins to feel like home quickly. And then you have lots of time to explore your new hometown and start to feel settled.
Make it an adventure. Do my kids miss their friends and the life we knew? 100%. But they also really look forward to the new things that await them in our new place. Play up the adventure part of the move instead of what they are leaving behind.
Become a tourist in your hometown. We have lived places and seen and done more than people that have lived there their entire lives. We go to all of the small town festivals, museums, events and landmarks. It helps to feel like you are a part of the town and a member of the community.
Images were taken in Amalfi, Italy. Summer 2017.
Go to stuff even when you don’t feel like it. This is a big one for me. You need to meet people. And as nice as it would be for strangers to knock on your door and ask to be your friend, that isn’t how it works. You need to leave the house and put yourself in situations where you can meet new people. More often than not, I’d rather stay in my house and be in relationship with my couch, but that doesn’t help my kids acclimate to our new environment or for me to have any support system to speak of. So put on some lip gloss and leave the house.
Keep family traditions alive and well. The home in which we do them might change, but the traditions stay the same. No matter where we live, there are certain events like our annual back to school dinner or our Christmas books tradition that are non-negotiable and happen year after year. It provides consistency and a feeling that our family is very stable even when life doesn’t always feel like it is.
Moving is hard, there is no getting around that. But the attitude you have towards it makes all the difference in how your kids deal with it. I think that the experiences we have given our children are going to make them stronger, more empathetic to others, and have an innate sense of adventure. And I wouldn’t trade that for writing my address in pen any day.
Bree is the founder and writer of BakedBree.com, a recipe site that shares her love of cooking, baking, and entertaining with others. BakedBree.com launched in February of 2010 as a way to merge Bree’s love of photography with her love of food, and share both with friends and family. Currently, Bree lives in Stuttgart, Germany with her husband and 3 children. You can follow her family’s travel on Instagram.