I have been driving the kids past our new house every time we're in that part of town, which ends up being 3 or 4 times a week. In an effort to (hopefully) help them acclimate to the idea of moving to a new home, I work it into casual conversation and look for opportunities to bring it up and ask them questions.
Well sweet Robbie is a very sensitive soul, and he has been having a hard time with the idea. Whether it's an uncertainty about what we will be taking with us and what we will be leaving behind at the old house (no matter how many times I explain that we will be taking e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. with us and try to name anything of value to him one by one!), or how soon we will be moving ("I want to stay at this house for a while."), or what items we will put into boxes ("I don't want to put our van in a box!"), his little mind is trying to wrap itself around this big change that is coming and it's scary at times to him.
Today at lunch, while the girls napped, he seemed especially weepy. He does get this way at naptime now that he's skipping his more often than not, but his legitimate fears and uncertainties came out again and so we spent a lot of time talking through them.
I don't know if this is the right thing to tell an almost 4 year old, but I started out by saying that honestly? I am a little sad, too, about leaving this house! I love it, and we have lived here a long time. There is a lot to love about this home, and we've made special memories here. But we will all be going to the new house together - Mommy, Daddy, Robbie, Ellie and Maddie - and we will make new memories in our new house as a family. We will also take all of our things with us to the new house (insert a very long list of the items that matter in his world; bed, toys, etc.).
Then I explained that in our new house, there will be a lot of fun things to do. We will bake cupcakes in the kitchen, and there will be high barstools for him to sit on at the counter so that he can watch me cook. There will be a room just for toys, and he and Ellie will be able to have friends over to play with him in the playroom. We will build fires in the fireplace and eat popcorn and marshmallows nearby when the days get cold and it snows outside. We will build snowmen in the backyard and make snow angels in the front yard. We will take big bubble baths in mommy and daddy's new bath tub and play in the closet between the clothes.
I also promised to sleep in his room with him until he felt comfortable sleeping in his new room by himself (or with Ellie, if they still share a room for a while after we move). Although he was still crying, I could see that it was coming more from a place of relief than fear. I reminded him that he can always pray to Jesus whenever he is sad, and tell Him what is making him sad or scared and Jesus will help him feel better. I hope I can continue to explain to him what will happen in a way that is appropriate for his age and is helpful as far as his ability to process change goes. And until he is ok with the situation, it will tug on my heart. We all just want our babies to be happy and feel secure, don't we? But growing pains are good and he will be just fine when this transition is over.
This morning our babysitter came over for a little while so that I could go out and collect more boxes from retailers nearby. Thank goodness for The Gap - I hit the jackpot today and got about 30 boxes from them! I refuse to pay for cardboard, especially this time of year when stores are getting huge shipments and are throwing boxes away. After collecting the boxes, I delivered a meal to our realtor who just had major surgery and spent some time talking with her (she is so kind). Then I had a quick lunch with my friend Cheryl before heading home. I am trying to be intentional about the work/play balance. When there's a lot of work to be done (like now), I think it's important to sprinkle in moments that are refreshing or encouraging or just plain restful. It recharges my batteries and gives me energy to tackle the work that needs to be done, and I think it makes me a better mom too. I will not survive this move if I sequester myself (and the kids) in our home, packing boxes all day long. So I am fighting back feelings of guilt when I spend time on things that aren't necessarily 'productive', as long as they are beneficial to us in some way.
Robbie and I had our talk over lunch while the girls napped, and my mom stopped by shortly after that to spend time with us. I ended up taking the first van load over to storage while she stayed at the house with the kids, and cleared out the garage of the kids' outdoor toys. Now we have a place to stack boxes that are packed and ready to be driven over to storage (I cannot live in a house with boxes stacked inside everywhere). And I have a visible representation of today's efforts... aaaahhhhh. :)
The kids played in boxes while I cooked dinner...
Daddy came home from work, wrestled everyone for a while, and played 'Quarterback Runningback' with Robbie...
and then the kids played with a light up snowglobe while they explored our shower as I was putting Maddie to bed.
Who by the way? Is the cutest baby in the world. She sleeps snuggled up to her stuffed Elephant, usually with one arm slung over him like this...
We tucked the big kids into their cribs and watched them fall asleep in the monitor. Another good day.
- Encouragement that took the form of a call from my sister, my mom's practical help midday, and my friend Suzi's text messages.
Ps. This is how my day started (see video below)... Ellie emptying her pj drawer and putting pants on her head, while Robbie scavenged the house for snacks. All I wanted to do was finish blow drying my hair.