We’ve been here for a month now. We’ve been to the recycling centre twice, to the library twice, to the post office twice, and to the learning centre several times. We’ve been invited over to someone’s house twice and have sent out our change of address email to our friends and family. In many ways we’re still settling in, but the worst of the chaos and uncertainty is past. Over the past two weeks I finally felt like we were finding a good homeschooling rhythm post-move. Can you hear that huge sigh of relief?
Moving house is tough. Right up there with births, deaths and wallpapering as one of the most stressful things you can go through as a couple. Moving house as a homeschooling family gives you a unique set of challenges to deal with. Our kids are around a whole lot, and attachment, routine, time and available resources make our homeschool days flow smoothly. All of that is disrupted by moving house. Here’s how we coped with moving house and homeschooling.
1. Let the routine go.
We clung on to the basic outline of our day by keeping waking, sleeping and meal times the same, but during our move I abandoned our usual rhythm of homeschooling activities. Since we had mostly let the routine go since mid-December it wasn’t an enormous shock. We just didn’t go back to the routine as soon as I would have liked in January. Once we’d moved into our new house, I eased back into our routine as we slowly unpacked and set up in our new house. I really wanted to dive in with math practice and the structured stuff I love, but I knew that wasn’t going to fly until we were all feeling more settled and connected again.
2. Welcome the kids’ help, but don’t expect it.
At 6 and 3 my girls are pretty young to participate in much housework at the best of times, and they had very little desire to help with the packing or unpacking. Bea wanted to pack her clay projects, and Claire wanted to help with the dishes, but mostly the girls wanted to either play at the neighbour’s house or zone out with audiobooks and colouring while the serious packing was going on. This will depend a lot on the age of your kids, but pushing them into helping when they don’t want to will only cause more stress than it’s worth.
3. Media will buy some time.
Normally we are a very media-lite household, but during the move we relaxed the controls around media consumption. The girls spent more time than usual playing Starfall or Angry Birds on the new tablet we got for Christmas. We put on a movie once or twice to buy us some packing time, and the rest of the time they were listening to audiobooks. Since we weren’t spending as much time engaging with them and most of the art supplies were packed away I figured it was fair enough to let them spend their time playing video games. Weaning off the media took a little while, but it turns out that they would rather do an interesting project or go somewhere than play video games.
4. Reconnect regularly.
On days when everything was just too much, we left the packing and did something fun together. Went to the park, read stories, took a walk in the woods. This was easier once we were past the actual move, since we weren’t under the same time pressure to unpack as we were while packing up. But reconnecting regularly was key to making the move possible, and we spent a good amount of time reconnecting in the new house before I brought out any schooly stuff. In my experience of homeschooling, the attachment and connection always have to come first. We work at strengthening our connection before we reach out into projects, worksheets or practicing challenging skills, and this was especially true during the upheaval of moving house.
Getting back into a homeschooling rhythm after moving house isn’t like turning on the light switch. For us, it happened piece by piece. Every time we did something together that wasn’t purely about moving our worldly belongings, we added a piece to the puzzle. The first time we baked cookies in the new house. The first time we went exploring in the woods. The first time we had a craft-project morning. The first time we did a science experiment, or brought out the math book. There’s still a lot to be sorted out, especially around creating a comfortable, kid-oriented creative space, but we’re getting there. And it feels good.