Telling the Kids When It’s Time to Move
On today’s Charlotte Moves post, I’m talking about the kids. Specifically, how do you *tell* the kids when it’s time to move. In lots of situations, I suspect the kids will be the ones ASKING to move. Whether to get their own room, or to move closer to the playground, or to have a backyard big enough for a swing set. I’m talking more about those times when the kids may not be on board.
In our situation, they have only been here for three years and just seem to be finding the sweet spot of playing in our house. They know where the best hiding spots are. Their rooms fit their toys and their imagination. The backyard is primed for fairies or digging or rollerblading. They love this house, so telling them we’re leaving was… hard.
But here’s the thing about talking to kids. They’re so super smart. They may not be old enough to hear all the details, but they certainly need to hear the truth. Otherwise, it leaves questions, and when kids have questions, the answers they use to fill in the blanks are usually much scarier than the reality.
We spoke to all of our kids together, but that decisions was honestly to make it easier on us… I could see that individual conversations might have allowed us to be a bit more frank with the older kids as needed. We made sure that they were all fed and in relatively good spirits so there wasn’t a chance that something else would derail the conversation.
Honesty without too many scary details. Here’s what we told our kids: Daddy’s been looking for a new job. We live in an old house and it’s expensive sometimes. We decided that we would rather live in a different house that’s a little less expensive so that we can go on family vacations one day and do other fun things. We’re sad to leave our house, but excited to find a new house with new bedrooms or maybe even a big playroom. We don’t know where. We don’t know when.
They have all had questions. And we’re answering those questions as honestly as we can as they come up. We’re answering with actual answers as opposed to brushing things under the rug or patronizing them with expressions like “don’t worry”… “it will be fine”… or “let’s talk about it later.” Lots of times, the answer is, “We just don’t know.” Followed by, “I know that’s not easy to hear.”
Obviously this wasn’t the kid’s decision, but we’ve still tried to include them in the process and have asked for them to help us keep the house clean. Honestly, I don’t think they’ve even noticed, but we’ve packed away a ton of their toys so that’s another way they’re all helping. We’re trying to make this a team effort and, fingers crossed, we can make the new house a team effort just as much!
Other things to consider. As parents, I’m CONFIDENT that we are more anxious and stressed and on edge than normal so I’m making an effort to be a little more generous with the kids and to find a reason to grab ice cream or get bagels or walk to the park. I occasionally check in with them and continue to ask if they have any questions for us.
Children have a skewed sense of time. Every time someone comes to see the house, the kids wonder whether they bought it and therefore whether we can come home. Louisa had a lot of questions about what was coming with us: her bed, her pillow, her dollhouse. The older kids are more preoccupied with whether they’ll have their own room (hopefully) and whether they can have a tree house (maybe). Have we done this before? Nope. But so far the kids have been pretty amazing about this curve ball we’ve sent them. Hopefully treating them with respect and giving them honest language at an age-appropriate level can only help!
Click below to get caught up on the entire series!