Q&A: moving far away with little children

Lisa writes:

"I have a 2 & 1/2 year old daughter and a 4 week old son. We will be moving in 2 months from the Midwest to the West Coast thanks to a new, wonderful job for my husband. We are currently living nearby both sets of grandparents and see them very often (every other day if not every day). How do I prepare my 2 1/2 year old daughter for this huge change?

Before my son was born last month, we read books about babies and being an older sister. She liked these books. In fact, the morning she woke up to find my mom here, she immediately asked, "Mommy and Daddy at the hospital so the baby can come out?" Are there books that you would recommend we read?

Also what should we talk about now, when should we begin talking about it. What should we do once we move? Help!

Also any advice on how to keep my sanity through this all would also be appreciated."

Congratulations to your husband on the new job, and good luck with such a huge move. Just switching two rooms in our apartment this week is making me really pissy, so you have all my sympathies on a cross-country move.

Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos recommends Rosa’s Room by Barbara Bottner as a good book about moving. The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day is good for talking about the logistics of moving (packing up and the physical process). I’m hoping readers will have other suggestions.

I would start talking about it now. There’s no way everyone around you will be able to resist talking about it, and you want her to hear it from you, not just pick up bits and pieces and make it something scary in her mind. You could also talk to her about special things she wants to do before you leave to go to your new town, and then make an effort to do them all. I’d also enlist her help in planning what her new room is going to look like as much as you can so she can start getting excited about being a big girl in her new house.

It would be helpful for your daughter to have a photo album of pictures of her with her grandparents (maybe two albums, one for each set of grandparents). They might even want to help her make it in the next few months. There should be photos of them together at your old house and at their houses, and doing all the routine fun things they do together. This way she can look at the albums in the new place and talk about her grandparents and how she misses them and all the places they used to hang out together.

If you can make plans ahead of time for both sets of grandparents to come out to visit, that would also be a good thing to be able to refer to. While you’re setting things up in the new house you can talk about how excited she’ll be to show Grandma and Grandpa her new room, new yard, new bathroom, etc. when they come. If there’s a previously-arranged date that they’re coming to visit, you’ll have that concrete information to tell her.

I’ve got nothing for keeping your sanity. How much help are you going to have during the process? And how much are you going to be able to play the "I have a teeny baby and a toddler so maybe someone else should pack those boxes" card? If your husband’s new job offers relocation assistance, max it out.

Has anyone out there done a big move with little kids recently? Any ideas for Lisa?

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