Saturday, 5 January 2013

Moving In & Moving On: Moving House with a toddler

Moving In & Moving On: Moving House with a toddler

The last couple of weeks has involved Christmas, New Years but more importantly for us- our move.  We have moved north of Brisbane 2 hours to Gympie into my in-laws home while we plan and build our own home just up (and down) the street from them.  In my mind I feel we are still living in both places because:

1. We are still to renovate our first home before selling it (I can't bring myself to say "Old house") so we will still be going back and forth to it over time;
2. Most of our belongings are still back at the other house;
3. I'm struggling to accept the move so far from my family and from a new friend (and Marika's new friend who she calls her best friend).

I have felt changes in Marika over the last few days that to most others just seem to be what a "normal" toddler would do: push/shove/hit her sister; be quite oppositionally defiant towards me; be uneasy and moving around fast and a bit erratically...

Back at our own home (urp.. old home.. previous home.. back in Brisbane) she had open access to go out the back by herself and to play with the cats whenever she wanted.  She would play out there a good hour or two at least, a day.  It was her own time, her own place, wind down time, happy time, decompress time - anything she wanted..

She would have access to everything and I removed anything I didn't want little hands on..
She could eat where she liked, when she liked...
She could watch whatever on tv or on her iPad...

Now at our new place we are moving in with others, into their home.  My in-laws are absolutely lovely- they are responsive to Marika and Remi; they are loving spending time with the girls; we share making meals and have company with others when eating; .. Pretty much the perfect "other people" you'd want to live with.

However, ... Putting ourselves into Marika's tiny little, yellow butterfly shoes .. and our new home is quite different:

- she is suddenly denied a lot, furniture can be scratched so play is conditioned more, she can not go outside by herself and can't access cats by herself, for a few days she was even sanctioned in the loungeroom with Remi to limit Remi's wandering through the house (I'm relieved Marika has learnt to climb over the barrier), while she is still eating around the house it's very closely watched and warned, there is always someone around (it is awesome having her grandparents both around most of the time!! But it's not usual for her)...

At home we did frequent arts/crafts/activities but while packing/unpacking/settling in we haven't done near as much and different types (neater, cleaner crafts)...

Our old/former/Brisbane home is Marika's "golden home" (so I've recently learnt; coming home must be signalled by siting yellow bricks)

There seems to be 2 school of thought when it comes to toddlers and moving:

1. Kids go-with-the-flow, adapt to change easily and most issues are projections from the parents;
2. Moving is quite a huge deal for a toddler; they live with routine and we are, after all, changing their WHOLE world - without their permission, without them really understanding the benefits long term..
I'm kind of mixed in both of them really.

I think I'm one of them but then realise I'm not.. Then think I'm the other...
But I realise now that I cancel them both out as irrelevant when I REALLY tune in to MY daughter.. and I think that above all is the most important.

She is dynamic; she is taking in all signals, information and interaction.. And like anyone processing a major event in their life they aren't ALWAYS thinking about the event- there's distractions everywhere..

So Marika may have a kick-arse morning then all of a sudden have a "nup.. Nup... Nup" stretch and demand bottles of juice.. Demand going outside to jump on the trampoline.. Or start flipping out that Remi is trying to play with the toys she wants to play with.

I am in the process myself of mourning the move (crying daily/nightly and also celebrating the lovely hospitality, love and company here- smiling a LOT more, yelling a LOT less...

While trying to organise my thoughts/feelings/ sense of self over the past year (particularly with a psychologist), I like to also organise my mind with the girls...

I like to frame my thoughts so it affects my emotions in a more positive way and then this (hopefully) enables me to catch my breath, respond rather than react and be there in the moment for the girls more..

So here are my more organised thoughts on this moving with a toddler.. Marika seems to respond to them quite well!:
1. Allow Marika to feel emotions that come to her in moving:

- don't dismiss any comments about wanting to go back to our home in Brisbane by always distracting her with what's "good" at the new place;  let her express them and let her know we understand that she misses the golden home, the pool, her bedroom, the neighbours, her friend, ...

- take pictures of everything: rooms, gardens, driveway, backyard, pool, garage, bricks.. And print them out so she can look at them when she likes;

 2. Give Marika opportunities for closure:

- give her the opportunity to say goodbye to each space;

- give her a little box to pack some of her final toys to move and give her space to put her toys/books;

3. Try to maintain as little disruption to her routine:

- shower and bed routine (unless she falls asleep early like she has been!);

- incorporate art/craft each day;
So far this is a little sketchy.. we have a lot of art/craft supplies in boxes still and haven't a place set up for arts/crafts.. we are using the dining table for a lot so it needs to be neat, organised and easy to put away.  A LOVELY friend in Brisbane and her daughter gave Marika a few arts/crafts sets and supplies and we have slowly worked through them over the past week:
Face Paints....

Modelling Clay (Marika wanted the whole kinder
surprise monster set - so why not making them :))

Our own Monster's...
brother monsters and a baby monster.
Making the clay animals on the packaging.

Brown paper bag animal puppets

Barnyard scene book.

- make sure I'm actively engaging with marika each day (Danny and I are a strong constant in the move and I want to make sure that her support system is strong/er);

The only couple of photos I took while playing with Marika..
Our one-on-one trampoline time: playing "roll-play monsters" - The monster falls asleep often and needs to be kissed by someone wearing a hat to wake the monster up.. it then searches for the one who woke the monster and tackles then rolls about with them (almost like a crocodile's death roll.. except not so deadly lol)
- I was considering weaning the bottle out through 2012/start 2013 but not until we are WELL settled in now (I will offer cups/glasses including drinking from mine often but not push to use them at all!); -With more support around, ensure we have uninterrupted one-on-one time with Marika: no tv, phone, computers... Full attention for ~10-30 mins every day.  While we did not have too much long length one on one time in Brisbane, we still did a lot together.  That is now shared with more people in her daily support system- so i feel more concentrated time together would be better/needed now.

- create "retreat" spaces and Marika Only spaces.
We will set up her play tent from the old house somewhere where only she can go.. and this beautiful tent (pictured below) can be for both the girls to retreat to.
Remi Playing in and around the
woodland fairy tent
from Grandma & Granddad

4. "Indoctrinate" Marika into living in Gympie:

- after settling into Gympie (completely unpacked, room prepared downstairs for our own bed/lounge/art space) join classes and attend groups to forge new friendships and activity  (classes would also help with less disruption to some degree given Marika used to attend baking classes and gymnastics classes.)


I am acutely aware that being such a hyper sensitive person and , particularly now, very fluctuating in moods/hormones,.. That it is so easy to project my own worries and sadness with the move onto Marika...
My heart breaks when i see the "oh :/" look in her eyes when we say "This IS our home now".. and when she says 5, 6, 7 times a day that she wants to see her friend/ go in the pool at home/ any 'place of the day' back in Brisbane..

With the steps above I also hope it therapeutically helps my acceptance in transition!

In saying that I WILL be determined to visit my family regularly as well as my more recently new, in person Brisbane friendship and keep Marika's friendship with her friend fresh.

Right now it's midnight.  Danny is in Brisbane packing (well, probably sleeping now) and working either side of the weekend.  Im sad Marika is on the floor mattress instead of next to me (rolled out of bed, so I can't keep her in here even with rolled up towels under the fitted sheet).. And Remi is sleeping sideways near my knees...

I want to sleep but have thought after thought racing through my mind..

Things I need to do tomorrow; when should I close the curtain to block early light or close the windows to block LOUD morning birds; what needs to be organised for meals; do I need to go shopping for juice; when do I start juicing; when will we start painting again; will Marika (and Remi!) be able to roam free somehow without hearing "uh uh/don't touch that/out of there/nooooo/"; which days are laundry for clothes or towels again; what pet hates do my in-laws have that they have said something about-have I forgotten them and will I upset them? Would they tell me?; I need to start back on cloth nappies- do I wait until Danny gets back home or would that not make a difference?; I need to change the nappy bin tomorrow; I need to remember to shower the girls and brush teeth in the morning; when should we go to the dentist?where?; should I contact Mr.--- regarding Remi's angular dermoid cyst? Can we wait a lot longer before removing it- I don't want her under a GA so young; if Remi was 3 like Marika, she'd still be too young for me to put her under a GA; would I be there before the surgery and when she wakes? Can I feed her afterwards? Would she still be feeding?  She's not eating many solids now... What can I make tomorrow that she might eat a lot of and is healthy?; I need to research and go buy some supplements from a health food shop; should I buy online? Should I use my Christmas money or is that meant for something else?; ...
My brain moves on so quickly from one thing to the next!...
Sometimes I get myself hugely worked up and it all ends in tears or even an anxiety attack...
But I'm working on the quality of thoughts now... I will eventually get to the quantity and pace lol

Have you moved with a toddler before?  What have been your experiences?

Do you find yourself having hours of chained thoughts, lying in bed needing to sleep?  What practices/techniques/routines help you fade to sleep? :)
Lots of love,

1 comment:

  1. Apparently I live a very transient lifestyle. I have moved three times with a toddler (and one of those times I had a baby too) and we're planning on moving again very soon, this time with two toddlers. Finding the time for packing and organising stuff can be a bit of a struggle, and I get a little frustrated with little hands grabbing stuff I have just packed, but I haven't had any issues with seems my kids are pretty cruisey. As long as they have me and we snuggle up in bed together at night they seem to be pretty ok about wherever we are.
    Don't ask me about sleep, I don't get enough of the stuff.