As anyone who has ever moved knows, the to-do list can seem never-ending, but if you approach relocation with a plan in mind, it is not only manageable, but can also be enjoyable.
1. Get to know your new community.
You may still have dozens of boxes to unpack, a family to settle, and employment to secure, but acquainting yourself with both the physical layout and amenities of your new home base will help you and your family to establish yourself in your new setting and make connections that will help you accomplish the rest.
2. Start with “survival” planning.
Where can you get groceries? (Or good carry-out and a great cup of coffee…it’s Suburbia, not the Congo!) Where is the nearest hospital / emergency clinic? Do you have prescriptions for medications that need to be filled? Have you checked with your insurance provider to identify local doctors and dentists? What’s the best local hardware store? Where can you fill up the car? Is there a local branch of your bank nearby?
3. Find your tribe.
Where do YOUR PEOPLE hang out? Are you artsy? Where are the nearest museums, theatres, libraries, comedy clubs, and art galleries? Are you sporty? Look for gyms, playgrounds, sports facilities, green spaces, and walking/running trails. Where are houses of worship that align with your spiritual beliefs? Are there local Moms groups? Networking groups? Walk your neighborhood when neighbors are out, and meet the people with whom you share property lines or walls. Take your kids to their new schools and help them explore the facilities (with the permission of school administration, of course). Subscribe to the local newspaper, metro magazine, or business journal to identify activities that will help you connect to the community.
4. Eventually, you’re going to need a haircut. (And retail therapy.)
Look up, look around, and observe. Do you see somebody with a hairstyle you like? Introduce yourself! (“Oh, hi! I don’t mean to stare, but I just moved to town, and your haircut is SO CUTE! I’m looking for a local stylist. Would you mind sharing contact information?”) Compliments are almost always met with compliance, and it applies to nearly everything: shoes, landscaping, car detailing, clothing, dog groomers, babysitters…the list is endless. Try it. You may make a friend in the process.
5. Create a home where you are.
Home is where the heart is, so at least for the time being, focus on what your family needs to feel “at home.”
6. Set up the kitchen and bathrooms first.
If you’ve stocked the refrigerator and pantry with familiar foods, and ensured that everyone can address their personal care needs, you’re well on your way to settling into your new home.
7. Identify personal spaces.
Try to set up young kids’ bedrooms before they actually see the space, including some much-loved items (favorite “blankies,” stuffed animals, books, and games), to ease their transition. Help older kids and teenagers to organize their spaces, and set aside a budget to support a new comforter, pillows, or window coverings that they can select to put their own signatures on new spaces. Specify work and study areas, too, to ease transitions into new jobs and schools.
8. Define FAMILY SPACES and FAMILY TIME.
The kitchen table might be one of them. A recreation or TV area could be another. Maybe your family is outdoorsy, and a fire pit in the backyard can become a family hangout. Make it a priority to have family meals and LISTEN to concerns about adjusting to new situations. Set up a family message board in a centralized location (again, the kitchen is usually a good spot for this, or if your family is tech-savvy, you can use online resources) to include calendars, schedules, and to-do lists.
9. Take care of yourself.
Rest, hydration, and proper nutrition are often the first casualties of change. Be cognizant of this, and pay attention to the creature comforts that you might otherwise ignore. Lots of changes all at once can cause stress, which is directly related to many health concerns, increasing the risk of developing (or exacerbating already-existing cases of) heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems.
10. Set goals one week at a time…or one DAY at a time until you’re ready to handle the weeks.
Drinking from a firehose. Keeping multiple plates spinning. Putting out fires on all fronts. You’ve heard all of the analogies, and yet, when you’re in the midst of it, even the hyperbolic descriptions don’t seem to accurately describe the multiple changes you’re experiencing. Set your priorities. Figure out what’s most important, and tackle tasks one at a time.
Consult with professionals (like an REA Coach) who can help you develop an action plan to move forward on important projects.
Don’t forget to breathe and celebrate the little accomplishments along the way!