We just completed a cross country moved that required seven weeks in temporary housing or in the homes of our relatives. The experience was full of some validating moments (I planned well for this situation and all is ok!) and some full-blown disasters (I’m not here, right? This isn’t my life, is it?). Here are some of the lessons learned, hard way and all.
1) Work Ahead: The best thing I did was force myself before the move to work ahead. In all three of my business endeavors, I did as much as I could ahead of time. In the end, I probably needed two to three more weeks of advance work, but getting things set up eight weeks ahead was about all I could do. This was the smartest think I did. I highly recommend it.
2) Plan on Sleep Changes: My son took all his anxiety about this move out on his sleep schedule. He radically changed the hours he slept, the length of time he slept, and where and how he slept. I did not anticipate such a dramatic change, since he did not do this on vacation or holidays. It was hard to deal with, because his lack of sleep meant I lacked sleep too.
3) Think Ahead: The best thing I did was to pre-plan a lot of the move. I thought through all the repairs to be made, the work we wanted done, and scheduled it in advance so it could all happen at the same time. While this made for a few chaotic days, it was all over quickly, and the impact on our daily schedule was minimized.
4) Give in to TV: I did not plan on how much movies and cartoons would be part of the coping mechanism for my son. I try hard to limit our television time each day to the absolute minimum. Living in several different temporary housing situations made limiting TV virtually impossible. My best advice? Just give in. You can redraw the rules in your own environment.
5) Pick a Few Absolutes: Every house has its own rules, and it is hard for a young child to understand why some activities are okay in one place and not okay in another. We chose a few absolutes – saying “please”, saying “thank you”, always brushing teeth, no climbing on the table, and stuck with them. The rest of the time we just tried to avoid situations that conflicted with house rules or manage around them.
The key word in this entire experience is obviously “flexibility”. Moving requires a lot of flexibility, but good planning can go a long way to help put life on auto pilot when you need it to be. Most of all, if you are moving with children, good luck! My sympathies are with you