How My Daughter, Mother and I Survived a Mid-Year Move
By Chantal Saville
Photo © choreograph/123RF
Jan 10, 2019
Three feisty personalities living in one tiny Toronto bungalow had finally run its course. Something needed to change.
You see, my daughter Nikki and I don’t live by ourselves — my mother lives with us. And Nikki and I were tired of living in the basement, so I decided it was time to leave our too-small home and I started looking for a bigger house in a smaller city that had all the amenities I’d come to love and was more affordable.
Once we picked the city (Kingston, approximately three hours by car from our old home), we needed to pick a neighbourhood. After much research and discussion with our realtor, we zeroed in on a specific school district. The school had an excellent reputation and half the population of Nikki’s old one. It sounded perfect to me.
Relevant Reading: When Moving House is Like Losing a Member of the Family
My daughter, however, had other feelings. She repeated this phrase, or some variation of it, on an endless loop for weeks: “I love this school. I love this house. I love Toronto. I DON’T WANT TO MOVE!”
My mother and I persisted despite her protests, found the house we wanted and put in our bid. The only downside? The sellers wanted a closing date that was more than a month after the start of the school year. Nikki had to start the year at her old school with her old friends, but she had to start again at her new school weeks after the other kids had settled into their routines.
So along with all the usual upheaval that comes with a move — packing up all the toys and clothes, leaving the only home she’s ever known and having to say goodbye to all of her friends and the new teacher that she liked — she had the added anxiety about being behind from day one. She told me, “I don’t know anyone, I don’t know the routines… this isn’t going to be good!” Her anxiety was well-founded: new routines, thanks to executive memory function issues related to her ADHD, were hard for her. But I reasoned that it was grade five, not Harvard.
'I love this school. I love this house. I love Toronto. I DON’T WANT TO MOVE!'
It all reads like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t.
As the move date drew closer, despite the usual moving downsides, Nikki was getting excited about the journey. We all were, actually. Nikki was getting a playroom, in addition to her bedroom, and all of it was above ground. That certainly got her thinking about the move in a more positive light. Grandma helped things along by sweetening the deal, promising Nikki a gaming console, as this would be our first Christmas in our new house and such an occasion deserved a special gift. That put Nikki over the top and moving day was surprisingly tearless and fun.
Relevant Reading: Multi-Generational Living — Why I Welcome My Dad Moving in With Us
Get Advice From Those In The Know
What also helped was some of the advice we got about meeting new school friends: our neighbours, the crossing guard and several of Nikki's friends' parents shared their own experiences of moving, but none was more effective than when we heard from her resource centre teacher, Miss A.
She told Nikki that she too had to move mid-year when she was in grade 5 and what she found was that most of the kids at the school were super excited to meet her. She had also moved to a smaller school where the kids had known each other for years. She found that they were excited to have someone new in their midst. That possibility hadn’t dawned on Nikki — or me, for that matter — and it resonated with her. Suddenly, the move was full of possibilities.
Preparing For Day One
We visited her new school the day before she was scheduled to start, just to get the lay of the land. The principal, who spoke only to her the entire time — which was utterly amazing — took us around and then introduced Nikki to her class. They were all very kind and one boy in particular paid her some special attention. She was blushing and smiling when she came out of the classroom. I was relieved! Of course, the true test would be the next day.
After I dropped her off for her first day, I sat on the sofa, surrounded by unpacked boxes and worried. All day. What if they were all in established groups and wouldn’t let her play? What if they teased her because sometimes she has difficulty remembering things, a function of her ADHD? What if? What if? What if?
'After I dropped her off for her first day, I sat on the sofa, surrounded by unpacked boxes and worried. All day.'
The bell for dismissal was at 3 p.m. I was at her exit at 2:45, pacing. When she finally emerged, she was all smiles, coming towards me arm in arm with a little blond girl. “Mom! This is Marie! She’s my new BFF!” And I breathed a sigh of relief.
So, what are the keys to surviving a mid-year move? A smooth transition without too much rush and bustle, a positive belief that there is something good in the offing, no boxes of toys left behind and a new BFF. The video game bribe from grandma didn’t hurt, either!
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