Families who have a member (or two) in the service of our country are a group who are most affected by mobility. It is estimated that military families can move as often as every two years. Imagine having to pack and unpack all of your belongings every 24 months. Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap!
The impact of moving on families reaches far, far beyond the logistics of packing and unpacking boxes. For our children it can feel like they are packing up their lives only to have the moving company lose everything in transit. They have to start from scratch.
While military families have an incredible support network that can ease some of the pain of moving, it is important that parents understand the impact of the transition as a result of frequent moves. First and foremost, it is important that parents, especially moms, take care of themselves. The family’s attitude, in particular mom’s attitude, toward the move has a direct correlation to the impact of the move on their children. Self-care is NOT selfish. Click here for our Top Ten ways to take a break.
Understanding the physical, social and emotional impacts of moving on transition is a close second to taking care of the caregiver. Helping children recognize, cope with and appropriately express feelings is not only critical to a successful transition but to success in life. Figuring out emotions is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
First, you start with a clear boundary – the frame. Setting boundaries for your kids is important. “It’s OK to feel (insert emotion here), but it’s not OK to (insert inappropriate behavior here).” Next, look for the pieces that seem to go together. Identify the easiest ways for your children to connect to their new surroundings. If they played sports there, connect with schools and coaches to get them involved in sports here. If they belonged to clubs or volunteered at certain places, get them plugged in. Finally, you sometimes have to turn the pieces several different ways and try different spots to get the puzzle to fit. Be flexible – with yourself, and your children. The road through transition is uneven and marked with potholes. Get back up and try again.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.