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Family Matters Blog: Blogger Nears End of Moving Journey

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2010 – The time is finally at hand. I close on my new house in Maryland today. 

It’s been a long journey and one that I’ve been sharing in previous blogs: "Blogger Gears Up for Move,"  "Tips Ease Transition to New School" and "Blogger Heads Out on House Hunt."

I wanted to document this experience to pass on some lessons learned, and also to learn some valuable lessons from our moving-savvy military families along the way.

It's a huge relief to get to this point at last after months of house hunting, document gathering and endless appointments to ensure all of the last-minute details were handled.

Oddly enough, the most challenging part for me hasn't been the finances or inspections or thick packets of contracts to read. It's the family adjustment.

I moved my family to the D.C. area from Texas about two years ago, and was anxious about pushing them into another move so soon. My two school-age children had settled nicely into their school here so I was hesitant to start over with them.

But this move will be our last for a while and my kids like all children are amazingly resilient. I see that resilience every day in military children who handle multiple moves and the impacts of deployments with such grace. And I've met many now-grown-up military "brats" who say they're grateful for the varied experiences and people they met in their youth.

With that in mind, I set out to make this a positive adventure for my family, rather than a drastic change.

Here are a few tips that helped me along the way:

-- Involve your children in the move. I took mine on a few house-hunting trips, let them tour the final picks and asked them for their input. They seemed to really appreciate it.

-- Brainstorm some projects to get them excited. I'm letting them pick out the paint for their rooms and some new decorations. My daughter already requested a mural of fairies, butterflies and clouds across her walls. Any talented artists out there?

-- Help foster friendships. My children started their new school several weeks ago and are still struggling to make friends. I've had to put my control tendencies on hold and work on my patience: It takes time. But as soon as we’re settled, I'm going to encourage them to ask friends over to foster budding friendships.

-- Talk to teachers and school counselors. I reached out to both of my kids' teachers and explained our circumstances so they could keep me posted and keep an eye out for signs of trouble. My third-grade daughter's teacher has really been wonderful. When she saw my daughter playing alone every day at recess, she had two nice girls ask her to play, which made my daughter's day. School counselors also can be a great source of information about adjustments.

-- Don't lose that irreplaceable item! Before our movers arrive we're going to set aside all of those items that can't be replaced, including pictures, important documents and my kids’ favorite stuffed animals. It would be a disaster to lose my daughter's stuffed dog, which she's had since she was 4 months old.

-- Above all, have fun. Moving is stressful, but also can be an opportunity to make new friends, explore a new area and find creative ways to stay in touch with old friends.

And here are a few tips from readers:

"One thing that the Military OneSource may or may not have suggested for families was keeping not only the necessary military, medical and move-related paperwork separate, but also school records. As we moved our kids from one place to another in such a short time, having school records and sports physicals readily available helped the admin transition."

"When I moved our family -- three children, two cats, a dog, four cars and a boat, and husband was deployed -- from Florida to California, I shipped two cars (check around and check past history), had a trusted friend fly out and tow the boat (paying all his expenses) and then … the best part, I let each of the children pick a city/fun destination, within reason that was along the chosen route, for a designated stop. We researched for pet-friendly lodging online, mapped out locations to stay en route, and made all the lodging reservations online in advance. We didn't over-pack the car so everyone had room. Each of us had a part in our journey, and it’s been our best move to date."

You can find many more helpful tips on Military OneSource. Also, check out some previous Family Matters blogs we wrote on the topic: "Tips When Moving With Pets" and "Tools Ease Moves for Military Families."

And if you have any tips you'd like to pass on, as always, don't hesitate to write in.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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