After living in our new home for over two months, I finally mailed our change of address cards. I always print them myself, and generally I begin working on these as soon as I know what our new address will be. Then I mail them before we actually move. Apparently this is not normal because I have been ridiculed about it on a few occasions. Getting change of address cards out really early may not seem like a big deal, but when you move as often as I do, most moving tasks seem a little more urgent. For instance, we are usually completely out of boxes within a few days of arriving in our new home. When you are only going to be in a house for a couple of years, it’s best to get settled as soon as possible. Additionally, I’ve already begun to get requests for our new address, which gets old after about the 50th request. Maybe next time I’ll quit being so cheap and just order the cards rather than making them. Then I might have a chance of getting them out early.more...
While this topic would probably have been more helpful earlier in the summer, I only just recently started blogging, so you are getting it now…right before school starts. However, if you are taking a last minute trip before the beginning of the school year OR if you are moving, I guess now is a good time. When we move, I put a good deal of time and effort into planning for our time in the car. On our most recent move I somehow tricked my husband into travelling to our new home with both of the kids, the dog, AND the cat in the car with him. I, on the other hand, drove blissfully by myself. (Please see earlier post entitled ALONE.) Because I love my husband and would like to stay married to him, I made plenty of preparations for the car. Fortunately, the kids (and animals) were well-behaved the entire trip. Unfortunately, what should have been a seven to eight hour trip turned into a twelve plus hour trip because of New England traffic jams and sneaky exits that don’t have re-entry ramps. At least the children weren’t the cause of his stress…this time.
Before I begin telling you how I plan for sanity while travelling in the car with small children, I must tell you that we are one of those “weird families” who actually chose not to have a DVD player in our new car. Despite one or two rough car trips, our kids are generally great travelers. When purchasing our new car we decided that the kids would see more and experience more without watching movies while we drive. That being said, I won’t judge you for having a DVD player in your car if you won’t judge me for not having one.
On to the entertainment!…for the kids, that is. The first time I prepared for a move with the kids was a doozy. We were driving 24 hours (not including the vast amount of time it takes for pit-stops) with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old. I started by searching the internet to find various ideas. The best site I have found is http://www.momsminivan.com. This is a very comprehensive site. Some of the other sites I found include http://www.activitiesforkids.com/travel/travel_hints.htm and http://travelwithkids.about.com/cs/carplanetips/a/amusekids.htm. There are more sites and ideas out there, but these are a good place to start. I had to search a few sites because planning for really small children is a lot different from planning for school-aged, who are easier to plan fun car activities for. (Let me tell you, trying to plan fun things for a one-year-old is really tricky. The one saving grace was that I knew I could count on car naps, so I didn’t have to plan as much for the one-year-old as I did for the 3-year-old.) I mostly stuck with easy crafts like crayons and paper, lacing beads, and pipe cleaners. My kids also enjoy sticker books, and, believe it or not, they still make Colorforms! My kids LOVE these. New books and small toys are a big hit as well. Also, my mother-in-law bought Taby Trays for the kids’ car seats, which makes coloring, activities, and snacking easier. (You can find them at http://www.onestepahead.com.) We try not to accumulate too much kid gear, but these have been great to have.
While activities to keep the kids entertained are important, good snacks are essential. Seriously. I spend almost as much time planning snacks as I do activities. Good car snacks are snacks that are not sticky and don’t stink or melt when your kids drop them in the cracks of the seats. Fruit snacks are great; fruit roll-ups are not so great…as is anything made with chocolate. Snack packs of crackers and cookies are also good. If you are hoping to give your kids fruits or veggies while driving, take my advice (based on experience), save these for when you are stopped and can wipe the kids down…or keep them from choking on the chunks of carrots they didn’t chew into small enough pieces.
Once I have bought or gathered all of the activities, toys, books, and crafts I am planning on bringing, I wrap them all up like presents with whatever spare wrapping paper I have lying around. I have some way of distinguishing which “presents” are for which child, such as different paper or writing an initial on the paper. I put them all together in a container in the front seat where I can reach them…right next to the snacks. Then, every so often throughout the trip they get to open up a new present. This keeps them from getting too bored and whining incessantly. Well, usually.
I hope some of these tips help. Let me know if you have any others!more...
In addition to giving your children something to do, visits to local playgrounds are another opportunity to meet new people. This is probably common sense to you if you have moved enough times. However, if you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend you give it a try. If you haven’t seen any playgrounds as you’ve driven around your new area, Google is your friend. (Keep in mind that Google is always your friend when you move to a new area.) Look up the website for your new city and go to the Parks and Recreation section. The website should have a complete listing of all parks and playgrounds in the area. This is assuming that your new city has a website, and you aren’t living out in the sticks. Once you find a suitable park and get there, let your kids start playing while you stalk…I mean, scope out other moms to talk to. If you start talking to a mom and feel like you hit it off, exchange email or phone numbers. I try to keep business cards with my basic info (name, phone number, and email…but not address) in my purse and stroller. I recently met a really cool mom with kids around the same age as mine at the park down the street from us this way.
P.S. Please note, finding a “suitable park” is important. The park closest to our last home (but not too close) was a favorite evening recreation site for drug users. While it was fine during daylight hours, it was hard to find a way to explain to the kids, “We can’t use this slide today; there are too many needles in the landing zone.” If there aren’t a bunch of kids already playing when you get there, you may want to do a cursory check of the equipment before you let the kiddos loose.more...
Because we move so frequently, my husband decided to compile a list of things we have to get done in preparation for moving. I have always been a list-maker, so this sounded like a great idea to me. (If you don’t believe me when I say “always,” ask my mom about the list I made when I was a kid entitled “Pets I’ve Had That Have Died”…I wish I were kidding. Sadly, it was a pretty long list.) Because my husband is anal…I mean, a great planner, the list is pretty comprehensive. Feel free to use our list and add your own items. We have ours saved on the computer so we can pull it up when we move, which lately seems to be about every year or so. (I also like to leave our house cleaner than it was when we moved in, so I have a cleaning list too…you know, just in case you’re interested. Truthfully, my husband isn’t the only anal one in our house.)
Moving To Do List
- Notify landlord of date vacating house
- Stop utilities
- Heating oil (This is a holdover from our stint in New England.)
- Start utilities at new home
- Heating oil)
- Change Address
- (list magazines here)
- Credit Cards
- (list all credit cards)
- Miscellaneous Services
- Banking & Investment Accounts
- (list accounts)
- Insurance Accounts
- Renter’s/Home Owner’s
- Cell Phone
- Pets’ Microchips
- Forward Mail with Post Office
- New tag for Pets
- Medicine for Pets (ensure a few months worth of flea & heartworm meds)
Things to Bring with Us…
- Pack ‘n’ Play with sheets
- Sleeping bags with air mattresses
- Toys for kids
- Books for kids
- Litter box with scoop
- Pet food
- Food & water bowls (for the pets, not the kids)
- Clothes hanging bar
- Bike carrier with holding brackets
- Fire safe
- External hard drive
- Special items we don’t want damaged, lost, or stolen
- Vacuum cleaner
- Ice chest
I was thinking through my previous blog on the benefits of dog ownership, and I thought it might seem unfair to imply that you have to have a dog in order to meet people in your neighborhood. Certainly you can take walks in your neighborhood without the benefit of a dog. You will probably even meet some neighbors this way (although, most likely those out walking their dogs). However, I would like to point out a couple of things. First, dogs provide the benefit of instant conversation starters. Without one, you will probably only get a passing “hello.” Second, and probably most important, dogs help remove suspicion. Let me explain. Consider this scenario: You decide to take an evening stroll at dusk. You pause in front of your neighbors’ house (and may or may not look into their brightly-lit windows). In this scenario, pause with dog = responsible pet owner; pause without dog = creepy new neighbor. Just a little something for you to think about.more...
In addition to being great companions and useful for mealtime clean-up when you have small children, dogs are an excellent way to meet your neighbors. We’ve had a fenced in yard in only one of the five houses in which we’ve lived. This has necessitated walking our dog a few times a day. I have met more people while walking my dog than through any other means. First, when you are outside of your home for longer periods of time you increase your chances of actually seeing your neighbors. Second, dogs are great conversation starters. Even people who don’t like dogs will stop to talk, although, usually they are just asking if your dog bites.
An additional benefit of walking the dog is the chance to scope out the neighborhood. I have found some pretty cool places near my house that I might not have found were it not for walking the dog. We had the remnants of a Revolutionary War fort just around the corner from us at our last house. Two houses prior to that, we had an ice cream shop a couple of blocks away. Okay, so I would have found the ice cream shop either way, but it was a good excuse to go get ice cream on a regular basis. Daily walks have also given me plenty of entertainment and mealtime gossip fodder with my husband. “Did you see that the people on the corner put some flamingos in their yard to keep the fake deer company?” “Thankfully, it looks like our neighbors are getting ready to move.” “Avoid the lady in the pink house. She’s a little kooky.” You get the picture.
While having a dog has certainly added some work to my daily task load, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences. For someone who moves an average of once every 1.6 years at this point, I would say dog ownership is definitely worth the effort.more...