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Maybe you’re upgrading to a bigger house or job realities mean relocating. Whatever the reason, leaving behind the familiar and starting over in a new place can be stressful. As a young mother, my husband’s job necessitated a move across country every two years. The first move was exciting, but soon starting over time after time began to be a painful reality.
When I whined to my wise mom about my dilemma, she gave me a hug and then laid it on the line. “You are the emotional center of your family,” she reminded me. “It’s up to you to support your husband and comfort your children by giving them tools to make these transitions easier on them. Keep them focused on the positives and trust God to help you turn a potential negative into a rich and satisfying experience.” She followed up with Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV): The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you...
My mother was a smart woman, who had seen her share of new beginnings. I took her advice to heart and over the years, I developed some helpful concepts for getting plugged in to a new place.
1. Build a bridge. Relocating can take an emotional toll unless you understand that embracing the new doesn’t mean casting aside the old. Encourage your family members to take pictures of all the people, places, and things they love about their old home and community. Give them each a small address book to record addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of friends and family. When you get to your new place, encourage them to take pics of their new home and community to share.
2. Subscribe to the local newspaper. This is a great way to gain a sense of your new community. What shopping is available? What type of churches are in the area? Are there activities that your family might enjoy? What are the community attitudes toward education, conservation, religion? What is unique about your new community?
3. Take lots of drives around the area. Make this a family affair by loading up the kids and including them in locating schools, supermarkets, parks, churches, the library, and the community pool, etc. Have your children write down street names and places they might want to visit.
4. Make the first move. When your children see you reach out, they will be more inclined to do the same. Let them help you bake cookies and then ring your neighbors’ doorbells with goodies in hand. Be respectful by visiting at an appropriate time (afternoons are best), using the driveway and sidewalk rather than trampling the grass, and don’t linger. Introduce yourselves, hand out your treats, and be on your way. Always respond with a smile and a wave. A little friendliness goes a long way.
5. Join up. The local newspaper and the local library are a good source for finding out what clubs and activities are available in your new community. Look for family clubs and activities as well as those that stroke your personal interests. Volunteer at the school where your children attend. Join the community pool, and play at the community playgrounds. Asking a question is a good way to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Most people are happy to help and more eager than you might imagine to form a bond.
Moving, whether you do it just once or many times, is a stressful event but you can do a lot to minimize the stress and up the excitement for your family. Remind them that wherever you are, the important thing is that you’re together. Don’t minimize the impact this event will have on your lives, but present your move as an opportunity to draw closer as a family, to depend on one another, and to put your trust in God.
Don’t underestimate your children. They can understand these concepts better than you might imagine while providing their own unique inspiration and encouragement. But what if you’re making a move all alone or with a spouse. These same ideas will work for one and for many. Proverbs 18:24 (KJV) says A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly... Try them and you will find plenty of new relationships and experiences waiting for you.
Looking for specific Scriptures to lean on during this transition time? Read 4 Scriptures to Help with Big Life Changes. Or, maybe you have a dear friend or relative who is going through a tough move, reach out to them with an encouraging Ecard or share this article with them on social media or in an email (see icons).
A friend who opens their door to you expects nothing in return, but sending an eCard in recognition of their hospitality will fill their heart with joy and put a smile on their face. God's love was reflected in their kind gesture of welcoming you into their home, so offer your thanks in return with an eCard that includes a timely Scripture.
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