Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5 Things to Remember When You're Moving With Kids

Anyone who has ever moved knows that the only thing worse than moving is moving with kids. Buying and selling houses, temporary housing, mortgage applications, packing, changing addresses and finding a new hair stylist all pale in comparison to consoling your kids over the loss of their best friends, registering them in a new school, and finding a house with the pool you promised them.

You'll feel like a symphony conductor, orchestrating all facets of your move. Your child is the diva flutist who waltzes in late with a list of demands, and refuses to play in synch with the others in the orchestra.

That's why moving with kids takes a special skill. Here are five simple things to remember when moving with kids.

1. The kids have to come first

Like everything else in your life once you bring that baby home from the hospital, you have to consider the children before yourself. You may want the stately 4-bedroom colonial, but it's not in the best school district and the neighborhood is full of retirees. You may want to set up your new kitchen first, but you're going to have to remove the pink Hello Kitty wallpaper in your son's new room first.  A month after your move, you may want to take a quick trip to the beach, but your first vacation will most likely be to your old neighborhood, so that your kids can visit their old friends.

Don't disregard your own needs and all that you have to do for the rest of the family, but when prioritizing, remember that a move is hard on children of all ages. Kids will feel a sense of urgency to get settled in, so the sooner the better.

2. There is no perfect time to move

The question Which is better, a mid-school-year move or a summer move has been bantered around since Adam and Eve moved Cain and Able out of the Garden of Eden to the wrong side of the tracks. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I'm sorry to say that there isn't a clear answer.

Some experts say summer moves are easier on kids, because when they start a new school year, they'll be in good company: Everyone is nervous about the first day of school and the "new kid" will fit in better. Summer moves are less disruptive as well, and school work is uninterrupted.

Others say that a summer move will leave your child without a way to make friends. School is an instant source of peers and new friends and without it,  your child may be lonely, missing their old friends, while even their new neighbors may be on vacation. Delaying a move can put your family in some turmoil, if some of you are separated temporarily, which causes its own stress.

If you face a decision on when during the year to move, weigh the pros and cons and consider your particular family and its needs. Most importantly, don't listen to "experts" who say there is a clear correct answer in all cases. You know your family.

3. Letting your kids make adult decisions is not a good decision

It's always a good idea to allow your kids to take part in the teamwork of moving house. It's never a good idea to go overboard.  Allowing the kids too much input into decisions involved in the move puts too much responsibility and pressure on a young person. Plus, it's inappropriate. Some parents let their guilt take over and give the kids too much leeway in decision making. In the end, this doesn't make the kids feel any better and it doesn't help the parents either.

Let your child have input in what school district they like, what neighborhood they prefer, and what house they'd like, but ultimately weigh their input with what's best. Make it clear from the beginning that you value their input and that their feelings will be considered.

Patience, one of the parenting bloggers Supersisters, suggests giving the kids some responsibilities to keep them feeling some ownership. "Give kids simple jobs to keep them feeling connected and part of the decision to move. Call family meetings to check-in with each member about how things are going and what everyone might need throughout the move," she said.

4. Be prepared to pay up

That's putting it crudely, but you know what I mean. When we moved from Ohio to Illinois, we bought a house with a hideous above-ground pool, only because we knew it would thrill the kids and get them excited about the move. Four years later when we moved to New Jersey, we looked for a house with an in-ground pool. We were determined to include at least one perk for the kids, something that would make them look forward to such a big change. You don't have to go outside your comfort zone or spend a ton of money;  just keep your eyes and ears open for something that your kids will love.

5. Weave together the old and the new

Your child's move should be the perfect combination of the comfort of familiar things and the excitement of new adventures.

"Reestablish routines as quickly as possible," advises Marie Hartwell-Walker of Psych Central. "The place will feel more like home if the rhythms of family life go on as before." At the same time, take advantage of the new things that your new area has to offer.  Consistent, familiar routines combined with something new and exciting is the best recipe for a child's smooth transition  to your new home.

More on moving children

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The First 8 Things You Should Do When You Find Out You're Moving

You've just found out that you're moving! It's an exciting - but scary - time. You're thrilled with the adventure ahead of you, but you know there's a lot of work to be done. Before the house-hunting, mortgage pre-applications, packing, and utility turn-ons-and-offs, here are some "right out of the gate" things you can do to get your move off to the right start.

#1 Research your new city

You've just found out you're moving! Get yourself and your family excited by doing some digging on all that your new city has to offer. In addition to ramping up the buzz, you'll be taking your first steps in preparing for your new life. Look into:
  • Climate and how it might affect allergies,lifestyle, and how equipped you are with clothing
  • State income taxes, personal property taxes, vehicle registration regulations and other laws and restrictions that could affect you and your family
  • Recreation, culture, the arts and travel opportunities - what's in store for you in your new home city?

#2 Start a school watch

If you've got children, choosing a school district will be first and foremost in a long line of decisions. it's never too early to start researching  schools in and near the vicinity of your move. Check your new state's department of education website and compare statistics. Read recent news on schools to get a feel for what school would be best for your children.

#3 Stop buying non-moveables

Give your Costco card to a friend: You won't be needing it until after your move. Don't buy bulk, don't buy large containers, and don't buy volume of things you know won't be moved: That includes liquids and flammables (hairspray and other aerosols, liquid cleaners and beverages that have been opened, and more) Remember: moving companies all have their own rules on what they'll move. Don't get stuck with recently purchased items that you'll have to leave behind.

#4 Prep your house for sale

Before you know it, you'll have a listing agent touring your house and your home will be on the market. Get ahead of the game by starting to get your house show-ready:
  • Straighten out closets and cabinets
  • Get rid of stacks of papers and magazines, and anything else piled around living areas
  • Take stock of needed home improvements that will give your house picture-perfect curb appeal
  • Make arrangements to have any needed home repairs done
  • Remove any standing fixtures that won't convey with your home, such as chandeliers

#5 Get rid of stuff

Moving is the perfect time to simplify and reduce your possessions. If you have a tough time emotionally getting rid of things, remind yourself that you'll be starting a new life in a new home. Who wants a bunch of old junk? Start fresh and either sell, donate or toss the things you no longer need.
  • Sell - If time allows, hold a yard sale. If not, consider EBay, Craig's List or consignment stores. This will get you some cash, but is time-consuming at a busy time.
  • Donate - Many charities accept clothing and household items for donation. The Salvation Army, Purple Heart, veterans' groups, and Goodwill have pick-up services or drop-off bins. Get a receipt for taxes.
  • Toss - Your simplest option. Anything that can't be donated or sold, offer to friends and neighbors, and then throw it in the garbage or recycling.

#6 Collect boxes

If you're doing a DIY move, start picking up free boxes from liquor, volume and grocery stores as soon as possible. Take a carload of boxes home with you whenever you're in the vicinity, and store them in the basement or garage until it's time to start packing. And incidentally, it's never too early to start packing the items you don't use every day.

#7 Take notes

There are hundreds - maybe thousands! - of things to do between now and the day you move into your new home. If you  write them down as you think of them, you won't be taken off guard and you'll stay on schedule. Start a checklist now and add to it as you realize all the little details that will have to be done.

#8 Use up food

This is the best part of moving: Pare down the number of pantry items you'll have to move by consuming it all now. Plan meals that use canned vegetables, sauces, beans, tuna, as well as boxes of spaghetti and bags of rice. Use up that dash of paprika that's in the bottom of a spice jar. And don't forget your freezer. Right before moving day you should have very little left in your refrigerator and freezer. Better to use it than to toss a lot on moving day.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cool Ways to Change Your Address

address main

There isn't much fun in moving. But one of the moving must-do's that can be a break from the mundane is notifying that your address is changing. After a day of getting documents notarized, packing, cleaning, scheduling and organizing, sit down with a cup of tea (or wine . . . or coffee . . . or vegan kale protein shake . . . or whatever trips your trigger), put your feet up and let the creative juices flow.

Of course, notifying your credit cards, insurance, investments and others that you do business with can now be done, in most cases, by filling out an online form. And your utilities will require shut-off and turn-on scheduling as well. But when it comes to family, friends and others in your personal life, why not have some fun with announcing your move?

Do-it-Yourself Change-of-Address Cards

These can be loads of fun. When you DIY it, you can personalize your change-of-address cards using maps, family photos, and pictures of your new house. You can also get creative with your announcement, playing on words and letting your circle know exactly how excited you are about the big move. Use maps to show everyone exactly where you're going and where you've been.


Martha Stewart magazine and website has some beautiful ideas for personalizing your change-of-address cards. I love the state shapes!


This one I love - It's like a little poster!


This is from Minted, where you can find other fun, creative ways to announce your move.


Or use pictures to really personalize your address change.


Quick and Easy Change-of-Address Cards

The standard fill-in-the-blank pre-printed change-of-address cards have come a along way, too. If you're not up to a big creative moment, and you're in a hurry, check out a Hallmark or a nice stationary store for some of these cool change-of-address cards.


Here's a fun idea I got from my sister and her husband: Buy some postcards of attractions in your new city and mail them out with your new address.


Love antiques? Pick up a stack of vintage blank postcards from a flea market or antique store, and hand-write your address change and put them in the mail. Your recipients will have your new address - plus a beautiful keepsake.


Online Change-of-Address Notifications

I know, I know, all this creativity is great, but wouldn't it be easier to join the 21st century and get your new address out there the easy and fast way - online? Sure, but you can still have fun with it. Check out MailChimp and other online source for invitations, announcements and newsletters. You can send your notification to your entire address book in minutes.


And the Best of the Best, In My Opinion

This fabric announcement is from Petal and Print.

address A

Whaat? An interactive moving truck. You can get it here.

address B

Gotta love a paper airplane. From Peartree Greetings.

address C is the creator of this fabulous idea - cards on each family member.

address D

And FINALLY, a use for those old paint chip cards!

address E


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Baby + Move + Job = What Was I Thinking?

When I found Monique Johnson and her sweetly-named blog Loving Caring Living, I knew we would get along famously. She read my blog post Take This Job and Move It, about how on earth anyone can orchestrate a family's relocation while working full-time, and she got in touch with me, saying she had done that very thing. And then she casually added that she moved with a 3-week-old baby. 


If you're thinking this is Super Woman, you're right. She survived that move and more - moving four times for her husband's job since 2002 - and now, as an educator and mother of four, she blogs about her life as an active mom at Loving Caring Living
Here is Monique's moving story. After you answer her question in the comments section, check out her blog.

~ ~ ~

Monique Johnson
My husband was being promoted and we were both excited.  The promotion meant a move from Pennsylvania to Georgia.  At the time, we had been married for five years, had a 3 year-old daughter and were expecting another girl.  I was working full time as an administrator at a local university.  This would be our first relocation as a family. I was looking forward to the change.  I don't mind change, and quite honestly work was wearing me out.  So the move came at the right time and I was looking forward to taking some time off.

Prior to the move, my husband met someone who worked at the university there in Georgia.  He mentioned my background to the gentleman, and I sent my resume.  The rest is history.  I moved to Georgia in May and was due to begin a full time job in August as a full time assistant professor.

Oh Man!  What was I thinking!

The Birth and The Move

Just 18 short days after I gave birth, we moved to Georgia.  The move was not as challenging as I thought it would be.  My husband's employer takes great care of its employees by covering house hunting expenses, closing cost fees, and all moving costs.  We were also assigned a relocation counselor who walked us through all aspects of the move.  If we had to move ourselves, I'd still be in Pennsylvania to this day.... seriously.

I packed a week's worth of clothes for the family and that's about it.  A team of people spent a couple of days at our home packing up all of our belongings.  My neighbors, co-workers and friends stopped by to see our new baby and to bid us farewell.  I was excited about our new venture, but a little overwhelmed by all of the work ahead of us.

On our final day, my husband had to go into work for a couple of hours.  By the time he returned home, the truck had pulled off.  I remember just sitting in the middle of the empty family room in a folding chair, my 3-year-old in her chair, and the baby in the carrier.  We drove to Philadelphia to stay the weekend with my in-laws.  It was Memorial Day weekend.  The family threw a going away party for us, prior to our flight to Georgia.

Once we arrived in Georgia we checked into a hotel for a few days.  This was probably the worst part of the moving experience.  Four people in a hotel room, two of them being kids, did not work well.  Babies are up all hours of the night, and so is everyone else in the room.  I was nursing, so sleepless nights were sort of the norm.  If I had to do it all over again, I'd get a suite or a one-bedroom hotel.  Thank goodness it was only for a couple of days until the truck arrived with our things.

The Truck Is Here

The truck arrived and we moved into our brand spanking new home.  The great part about this move was that I was going to be five hours from my parents instead of 15 hours.

The not-so-fun part of moving is the unpacking, the paper, and the boxes.  Ten pieces of paper for one glass really is over the top but I understand the need to protect the stuff.  My mom, my aunt and uncle came to Georgia to help us unpack.  Their visit was planned.  So be sure to coordinate your support system early on.  It was nice to have help, especially since I was nursing and still recovering.  After they left, I had to hit the ground running because a lot had to be done.

Baby on the Way

By the time January rolled around, I was pregnant again.  I had a 4-year-old, 8-month-old, and a baby in the oven.  The graduate program I was teaching in was tough on me and my kids because my classes were at night and on the weekend.  The schedule was just too much for me.  I finished the school year out, and resigned from my position.  I continued to teach part-time and engage in contract work periodically.  This was the beginning of my stay-at-home-mom adventures.  I was finally going to take the break that I should have taken when I had the opportunity.

Keeping It Movin'

We made some good connections early on with couples who are great friends to this day.  I found the people in Georgia to be very friendly and hospitable.  What they say about southern hospitality is true.  Overall, I enjoyed my experience there except for the out-of-control humidity, the gnats, and the fire ant mounds.  I never could get used to seeing those things.  The best part of Georgia was adding a new addition to the family, the birth of my son.

We lived there for four years, and then it was on to Ohio.  So there you have it - the ups, downs, and everything in between.  It really wasn't that bad because there was a lot of support in place.  There will always be challenges but I choose to embrace each change with a positive outlook.

How have you handled a move recently?

~ ~ ~

Monique Johnson is a program director or a reading program for five elementary schools. She holds a doctorate degree and is a former assistant professor, assistant dean and assistant director of career services in higher education. She is the mom of four children, ages 10 to 27. Besides blogging at Loving Caring Living, she enjoys reading, journaling, traveling and decorating. 


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Take My Advice Because I'm Not Using It

I did a terrible job of taking my own advice this past week. You know how I'm always saying that people should see the humor in stressful situations, don't worry be happy, this too shall pass, use your inside voice, blah, blah, blah?

Yeah, well sometimes there isn't an ounce of humor in a situation, if I don't worry no one will, this too shalln't pass soon enough, and I'll use whatever voice I want thank you very much, blah, blah, blah. I am this close to recanting my entire life philosophy, all because I lost my cool with an appliance store.

Last week was supposed to be the week that my kitchen renovation was finished. It would have only been a month overdue. The new and improved finish date was April 21, and the closer it came, the more hopes I pinned on that day. By the time I woke up that morning, I was thinking there might be a parade in my kitchen's honor right down Pine Street and maybe Jay Z would come by for a cup of tea, with water boiled on my new six-burner Wolf rangetop.

It has been a rough four months. Not having a kitchen is hard. I started this process back in January with what I thought was a youthful, cheerful optimism, but what ended up to be an immature, dumbass denial of the facts. I was cooking dinners in a crockpot that was twice the size as the mini-bar sink in which I cleaned it. The little pieces of food stuck to the bottom of the crockpot (probably chicken. It was always chicken) were larger than the sink drain and I had to often stick a coat hanger down the drain to unclog it. That was on a good day. On a bad day we went out to a restaurant and overspent and then fretted about the expense.

So yeah, it was a rough four months.

When things started to come together and the punch list got smaller and smaller, I got more and more excited about the kitchen being usable. The last piece of the puzzle was the delivery of our new appliances. The kitchen wouldn't be completely done, but it would be perfectly fine for cooking in. You can cook with boarded up windows, no shelves in the cupboards, and wires hanging down from under the cabinets, right?

The appliance delivery team arrived at 11 a.m. Twenty minutes later it was clear that they weren't going to be able to deliver my new refrigerator because of a string of mistakes by employees of theirs who were either on long-term disability or had quit.

I try to be like my mom, really I do. When my mom would get jerked around by a business who disregarded her patience, the worst that would happen is she would get on the phone and use her Mrs. Laney voice. This is Mrs. Laney, she would say, starting out in a high voice and ending low and stern. When we heard my mom on the horn saying This is Mrs. Laney, we knew - uh-oh - someone was careless enough to tick off the nicest woman on the planet.

My nephew was here when I called the appliance store owner and while I thought I was coming across as really badass, he says, yeah, no. "You said in a little voice, 'Really? You can't do it until next Wednesday?'"

So the result was that I flipped out angrily enough that I regret sounding like a raving lunatic, but not raving enough to get any result from it.

The point is, I stopped taking my own advice. I stopped finding any humor in my situation, even getting my sleeve wet every time I turned on the mini-bar sink to wash a dish. I spent less time laughing at myself and more time plotting my revenge on contractors. And I know from listening to my own speeches that no good can come of that.

I did try to remind myself to laugh. And also to remember what my son told me once, when I was over-the-top frustrated with a Philadelphia Holiday Inn desk clerk who would not give me the room that was comped me by Delta airlines.

"Just remember, Mom," he said. "Tomorrow at this time you'll have gotten your room and you'll be the same nice person that you are. Tomorrow at this time that girl will still be working here and looking for a ride to her GED class."

My kids got their positive outlook from me, but they didn't inherit a thing from their grandmother, that nice Mrs. Laney.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.