Advice about Moving with Kids

Parent Q&A

Hate our house. Should we move? Feb 3, 2021 (13 responses below)
Telling 4 year old we are moving apartments Jan 17, 2021 (2 responses below)
Advice for moving with 9 year old Dec 25, 2019 (8 responses below)
Moving cross country with a 2 year old and 4month old May 14, 2018 (8 responses below)
Helping a 5th grader through a move Nov 26, 2017 (2 responses below)
Moving w/ 2nd grader to Sacramento mid-school year Nov 2, 2017 (2 responses below)
  • Hate our house. Should we move?

    (13 replies)

    We are hoping to hear wisdom from community.

    We have never liked our house. The minute we bought the house, we had a huge buyer’s remorse. The things we dislike are difficult or impossible to change — size and shape of the lot, the internal layout, direction of the house, surrounding buildings, the particular street where the house is, easement, etc. We made a mistake... a terribly expensive mistake.

    We have been here for 3.5 years, and we really tried to like the house. We added a bathroom and remodeled kitchen. We landscaped, painted, and decorated. I still dislike the house. It needs a bit more space and light and I really want a house that faces Southeast and not northwest. 

    I would love to move from Oakland to Pleasant Hill or Concord where we can get a bigger house with trees,  a nice flat yard and a pool at the same price point. Spouse desires the same. 

    Even before the pandemic, our family outings and hang-outs were to drive to Walnut Creek or Concord.  

    the problem is kids love this house. They want to stay. We asked them if they wanted to stay even if the new house was twice as big with a big play room, swimming pool, hot tub, and swing set. They say they still want to stay here in this cozy house and close to friends. With the pandemic, we wonder if the familiarity and stability are more important for kids than daily comfort for us adults. 

    Parent in me thinks we should stay here and weather the pandemic to provide as much stability to kids as possible. But, I desire a bigger space and my own office instead of a make shift office in the hallway next to kids bathroom. It would be nice for kids to be able to bike around the house instead of us having to drive kids to a place where they can bike and run around. 

    We feel our neighborhood is too urban, and we thought we were urban people but are learning that we are really suburban people who like the option of being able to get to the city within 30-40 min. like to live in a quiet house with a lot of trees and flat grassy lawn and not next to a bunch of boxy apartment buildings where new people are constantly moving in and out.

    Sometimes I wonder if we stay here long enough, kids will grow up and they will think this house is cool  because it’s in an area that seems popular to young people (lakeshore/grand lake). 

    The parent in me is sympathetic to the idea of doing what your kids prefer, but even though I'm pretty mushy about stuff like this I would say follow your and your husband's heart and just move to where you want to be. You don't say how old your kids are, but they will adjust -- and you have given it a real shot to try to stay. For a little context, my third grader is in a new school this year, which has especially sucked for making new friends with remote learning, but they will survive. I think any moving around, at least before middle school years, ends up being no big deal for most kids.

    You should move, no doubt about it.  This is about your happiness and mental health!

    The kids will get over it.  They never want to leave what they know.  If you go house hunting with them and they can see the pool/outdoor space/etc for themselves, they will get plenty excited.  Seriously, this is about you and your needs, and they will be happy in the end.

    Well, it is definitely "cooler" to live in Lake Shore over Concord or Pleasant Hill! ;) That said, you are the head of your family and your happiness matters. It doesn't sound like you are happy where you are and that may continue to chip away at your well being over time. Factor in your kids preferences but ultimately make the decision that makes the most sense for you and your family long term. You can keep working on your kids to get them more on board. It might help to explore the new neighborhoods with your kids and include them in looking at open houses. They might start warming up to the idea.

  • We plan to move to a bigger apartment in about 3 weeks—a sorely needed change since we’ve been squeezing into a one-bedroom with a 4 year old and a 6 month old. I’m wondering when and how to tell our 4 year old about the move. Is it best to tell him as soon as possible, so as to give him more time to get used to the idea? Or better to delay, so that he spends fewer days anxiously anticipating a leap into the unknown? 

    I also wonder whether it would be a good idea to start by just saying we’re looking for a new place...then a few days later announce that we found one. But maybe this would just give him time to go on the record as opposing any move (he tends to resist change rather fiercely, even smaller things like moving furniture around). Any insights appreciated!

    At that age, he'll take a lot of his cues from you and your attitude. If it were me, I'd present it as a done deal right away, and an exciting one - "We're going to be moving to a new place! It's going to be fantastic! Life is a dashing and bold adventure!" Maybe he'll have his own room at the new place, or be close to a park, or something else happy you can promote that he can get excited about? When my family moved when I was that age (and we moved roughly every year during my childhood, so I speak from experience), my mom let me choose a new bedspread for my bed in my new room, and it totally sold me on the change - sometimes it doesn't take much! Make space for him to voice concerns and ask questions - there are bound to be things he's unhappy about, but focusing on the positive can help a lot. You might also see if you can find a library book or Sesame Street episode or whatever his way of absorbing things is that deals with moving - my own kids liked to process things through stories and pretend play when they were that age. It can also help to have him help pack some of his own things in a box or suitcase before the move so he feels invested and part of things - the move where my parents sent me to a friend's house and I came back to find everything in boxes was the worst of all of them.

    We've moved twice with our daughter. The first time when she was 3, then again when she was 4.5. Both times we talked openly about it, explained to her what's happening and why we're doing it and pointed out the highlights, e.g. having a backyard she can play in, a better room, neighborhood playground,.... I also read some kids' books with her about moving.

    She had a few, minor moments where she didn't like the change. Whenever that happened, a good strategy (as with all disagreements or tantrums) is to acknowledge and re-direct. Then after some time we'd come back to point out the highlights.

    Overall she managed very well and it was a non-issue, as she always discovered new and interesting things about the new house.

    Kids are highly adaptable. Don't be too concerned about sharing the logical process behind it (first looking, then finding), that's likely over their head. Just tell him it's happening and what to look forward to.

    Good luck!

  • Advice for moving with 9 year old

    (8 replies)

    After a few years of considering a move to the northeast, we have finally decided to do it for a variety of reasons - job opportunity, closer to family, better schools, etc.  My husband and I are very sad, though, about all that we will be leaving behind, and I'm dreading telling our older child who is 9 and will be in between 3rd and 4th grade when we move this summer.  He is an extroverted kid who makes friends pretty easily, but also is very engaged and happy with his school, friends, and extracurricular activities here.  He also tends to have intense emotions, and I want to make sure we make the transition as easy as possible for him.  I'd love advice or experiences of people who went through this.  How far in advance did you tell your kid the news, how did they work through the sadness of leaving, how did you help them make friends and get settled in the new location?  We won't move until mid-summer so we have a full 6-7 months to prepare.  I never moved as a kid so this is new territory for me.  Thank you!

    I suggest that you involve your child as much as possible in the moving process. Look at possible places to live together. Discuss the pros and cons together of each place together. Pack his stuff with him and ask him what he wants to keep and what he wants to leave behind. Talk together about how to arrange furniture in his new room. Unpack together. 

    In the new place, go to neighborhood parks, libraries, etc and make friends with the people you meet. Work on the front yard and be friendly with those who walk by. Get him a bike or skateboard and let him use it on your block. Have a housewarming and invite all your neighbors. 

    Good luck!

    hi!   I guess I think differently from the other responder.   I don't think you need to tell your 9 y/o early in the year.   And I don't think they should be a major part of the decision-making process for a house or a neighborhood since you need to think about a lot of factors some of which are way beyond what a 9 y/o can fathom.   He should definitely be involved in packing and in figuring out his room lay-out but only if that interests him.   I agree with the rest about checking out the parks, library, shops, etc., once you move there.  As for a bike, it will depend upon your street and neighborhood.  Good luck! 

    We just moved last summer from Hayward to Maine. We had mixed emotions about leaving, but we are SO glad we did! We own a great home on a river with a yard in a nationally ranked school district where it's so safe people leave their cars unlocked in the driveway with the keys in them- for less than half of what we were paying in rent in a not so good district- my commute has gone from 1.5 hours each way to 8 minutes (literally... in rush hour traffic), etc., etc. There are lots of people and things we miss (the food!), but we don't regret the decision one bit.

    Our child was 10 when we left California, between 5th and 6th grade. We actually started talking about the possibility of moving two years before we moved. We started talking about why we would move and when. We took a sheet of poster paper and taped it to the wall behind our dining table, and had a family discussion about what's important to our family in where we live (home we can afford, close to church, jobs for both of us, time to spend with family, good schools, weather, activities we enjoy, etc.). Everyone contributed, including our then 8 year old. At this point, he was NOT wanting to move, but I took the things he said and added them to the list in a constructive way that kept the heart of what was important for him- "I don't want to leave my friends"=good friends, "but I could be on the basketball team next year"=school with basketball team. Later, once we had picked where we were going, we brought out the paper and talked about how we had come up with this list as a family, and how the place we found met most/all of what was important to us, including him. We did NOT involve him in the choice of what state to move to or what house we were going to buy- he contributed to what was important to our family, but the final decisions are for the adults.

    As we made decisions, we let him know right away- what state/area we were moving to, what date we were leaving, what city we were moving to, what house we were buying, what school he'd go to, etc. He did not know when I interviewed for jobs, but once I accepted, he was informed when we started looking at things and when we made a decision. 

    Things we did to work though sadness of leaving:

    • Told his teachers, friends, and therapist we were moving as soon as we knew
    • Collected contact information for friends (and we've videochatted with friends after moving)
    • Had a goodbye party he could invite all of his friends to, a sleepover at our house. We bought margarita glasses at Dollar Tree and he decorated one for each of his friends, which we all used as ice cream bowls at his party, and his friends worked together to make him one that we kept and brought with us
    • Lots of pictures and videos of his friends, church family, etc.- we made a goodbye California photo book
    • A "goodbye tour" of where he was born, the house he lived in as a baby, other important places from his entire life where he could formally say goodbye and he could get pictures
    • On his last day in the house, he went and said goodbye to each of the rooms in the house.

    Once arriving at our new home, basically just got started with activities and exploring the area right away, and kept in touch with friends back in California. Major bonus- he now says he LOVES school (in middle school, no joke!) and how much better it is here than in California, but he does miss his California friends and wants to visit.

  • We may be moving from Oakland to Ohio in a couple months and I'm trying to plan out the best way to tackle this with a 2 y/o and 4 m/o in tow. I think flying with the two kids (and with my mother) while my husband drives the car out, would be the easiest way to tackle this, but he thinks us all driving together would be a better option. Anyone have an personal experience with a big move like this? Would love to hear experiences/advice on what worked and what to avoid. We will most likely be paying for a moving company to do a full pack for us to avoid that major hassle. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!

    I think trying to drive all that way with kids in restraints will be a nightmare.  You'd have to stop every hour at least to let them out.  And the little one will have to be fed frequently too, so that's a stop as well.  Flying with the children and letting Daddy drive, maybe with a companion so he doesn't get lonely?  Much wiser option.  Take it from one who knows.....

    When we moved x-c with young kids I got one piece of advice that was helpful. It doesn't involve the physical moving but the 'what happens when you get there' part. We had a box marked for the things we needed the very first night and then the first couple of days - mostly getting the kids stuff up and running immediately. Ours were 3 and 5 so they had more needs in terms of toys, routines, etc but I think it still applies. A box with paper towels, a few dishes, sip cups, toys, stuffed animas, sheets, trash bags, anything you can use to make their room (especially the two year old) feel as close to "normal" and the same routine and comfortable as possible was a huge help. We were prepared to live with take-out and clothes in boxes and disarray for awhile but it was easier for the kids to have routine. And, be prepared to go slow. We couldn't just do power days of major unpacking and organizing but had  to create a semblance of a regular day for the kids and work unpacking in around their schedules. One of the nicest gifts we received was from friends who scooped up the kids and took them away for the day and came back with pizza and kids at the end of the day. Can't do that with a 4 month old but if someone can watch them leaving you to unpack (and nurse when needed) it would be super helpful. Happy moving! 

    Hi Gina,

    We just moved from Pennsylvania to Albany with our son who was 9 months old. My husband drove our car with the dog and my son and I flew later. It was great because he could take the things we didn't want to put in the moving truck in the car with him. Flying was quick and avoided constantly pulling over to feed, change diapers, or give our little one a break from the car seat. I think the advice is to pull over every 2 hours for infants and give them a break from the seat. 

    Good luck!

  • Helping a 5th grader through a move

    (2 replies)

     We recently moved from the east bay to Marin for a number of reasons.  My 5th grade boy is having a harder time w/the transition than I thought.  He loves his new school and teacher and has never been more interested in school than ever before.  However, he terribly misses his old buddies and says they are “his forever friends” and the kids here are nice but are different.  He has a few boys he has made friends w/at schools but he’s not interested in having any “play dates” w/them outside of school and does not want to do any of the extracurriculars they do.  I don’t want to push him too much but I am very sad for him and want to help him through this transition as best I can.  He was quite liked at his old school and our house was the hangout house and now it’s not.  He talks to some of his old friends online everyday and that cheers him up but I am not sure if it’s making worse for him.  Academically, he’s doing better in school than he has ever done.  Any advice?  I am worried how this will all go in middle school next year (which fortunately is a small middle w/only his school and 1 other feeding into it).  I am all ears!  Thanks!

    Moves are hard when you're a kid (or adult). (I've moved countless times.) He's mourning the loss of the closeness he enjoyed.  Truthfully, around this age kids do develop new interests and go in different directions as they explore. Even if you lived there he'd be experience a version of this over the next few years. (But probably it won't help if you say that to him, just bear it in mind.)

     But rather than curtail his interactions with old friends, I suggest you look into some non-academic activities or programs where he can keep busy and interact with new kids to allow time for bonds to build. Rather than one-on-one playdates, look for activities through the school or outside.  Some ideas: Boy Scouts, a swim or baseball or soccer club, band, 4-H (yep, we have 4-H), a martial arts class, parkour.  That's just off the top of my head.

    There are lots of groups that work with animals : Wildcare, the Humane Society, the Marine Mammal center are just a few.  Maybe some of them have children's programs.

    I don't know which town you are in but lots of cities have Parks and Recs programs. 

    And here is a link to the Marin Mommies website:

    My heart goes out to him.  Maybe he will keep his old friends forever ... but he could make some new ones he'll keep forever, too!

    I don't have any advice for now, but I would expect middle school to help. With two elementary schools feeding into one middle school, it will be natural for relationships and social dynamics to shift. All the kids will be on unsure footing navigating the larger student body, which will level the playing field for him (instead of him being "the new kid" among kids who have been together for 5 years). I went to a small middle school with 3 feeder elementaries, and by high school I had an entirely different circle of friends than I had in elementary school. I think that was true of most kids.

  • I am currently interviewing for jobs in Sacramento and will hopefully get something by this winter. The idea is to eventually move our whole family to Sacramento to improve our overall work/life balance. My husband's job is based in Berkeley but he plans to work remotely and just come in to the Berkeley office occasionally. My biggest concern is that I currently have a 3 year old (preschool) and 7 year old (2nd grader in Berkeley USD), and I am starting to panic about the idea of moving during the middle of a school year, particularly about the impact it would have on the 2nd grader. I started to talk to the schools in Sacramento and it is not 100% certain whether my 2nd grader would be able to go to her neighborhood school if we started mid-year. I would rather commute from Berkeley to Sacramento for six months than make her transition to TWO different schools within a year, so we would likely only move during this school year if she could start at the same neighborhood school that she would be at next year. I'm optimistic that we will be able to get her a space and move mid-year, but now I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't just commute for six months regardless, and make the transition during the summer. I'm just afraid that doing that commute for six months will be miserable and will defeat the purpose of moving for a better quality of life and to have more time with my kids. But is it really hard on kids to move mid-school year? Either academically or socially? I am actually less concerned about her ability to adjust socially. She makes a new friend every time we go to a restaurant or park, but I'm more concerned about her academic success, because she has had a lot of difficulty with reading and is just now (after a lot of outside tutoring) getting to the point where she can keep up with her peers. She likes her BUSD class, school and teacher and is learning a lot. Though I have talked to her about moving to Sacramento to be closer to her grandparents and she is really excited about the prospect, so that's a plus. If anyone has advice or experience regarding moving mid-school year, please let me know.

    Having moved my then preschool and third grade kids to Hong Kong mid-school year several years ago, I can assure kids can handle mid-year moves. Anywhere. I worried about so many things, not least of all this very thing, but as my therapist at the time said, "You and your husband are the faces of this move. If you embrace it, they will too."  She was right. 

    We moved 3 times -- twice in between years, and once during the year. In my experience, if you move mid-year, you're "the new kid," and that spotlight can be a little intense but also fun. If you move in between years, then you're just the random person who doesn't know anyone, which feels a bit more lonely. Also, if you move mid-summer, then on the "pro" side, she has the summer to adjust to the house and neighborhood, but on the "con" side, she won't have her friends to play with so it could be really boring.

    Whether commuting is sustainable will really depend on what your employer will allow and whether you want to drive or take the train. The train is very comfortable and a nice way to commute. But because it comes once an hour, it depends on whether it works for your schedule. Most likely, taking the train means leaving the house around 6:25 AM and getting back around 7:45 PM (if you take a lunch break) or 6:45 PM (if you don't, or if you can make up your lunch by working on the train). Driving gives you some flexibility and shortens the day a bit further, but it is more dangerous and takes away a huge number of hours that you could spend on the train working, doing your taxes, writing your holiday cards, etc. etc. If you can work from home a few days / week, then commuting for six months really starts to be viable. Good luck! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Moving and Preschool - stay and finish the year?

Jan 2006

My family is moving to Denver in February, which I'm fast learning is a terrible time to move if your kids are in school. My daughter is 3 1/2 and LOVES LOVES LOVES school. She adores everything about it -- especially the stimulation, the friends, and the routine. I'm convinced that the best way to ease her transition to Denver is to get her into a school right away so she can start establishing a new routine and new friendships, but I've discovered that many preschools do not like taking kids so late in the year. In fact, I cannot find a single opening for her. This means she would have to wait until summer programs start (in June -- four months after the move) before she could have a school-like experience again. I'm wondering if my husband and I should be willing to have me and my kids stay here so she can complete the year (with my husband flying back and forth from Denver on the weekends). Or is it okay for her to have such a gap, considering that she is so young? I hate the thought of being separated from my husband for several months, but I also want to do what is best for my daughter. Help! And thanks so much. Amy

I think you should re-read your message, because it sounds like you would turn your life topsy-turvy so your child could stay in the same preschool. It sounds like she would probably make an OK adjustment to something else, and when you get there, something will surely pop up. I think the separation from DAD is more of a concern than the separation from preschool. Anon
I think the most important message you can send your child is that you and your husband and she are FAMILY and that is the most important thing... more important than preschool, or playdates, or almost anything. The strain on your family from being separated -- and from traveling back and forth -- is much too much to pay for the fear of disrupting your little child. Jump in and deal with your new home -- together. Heather
Hi. We were in a similar situation - moved to a totally new state in December 2 years ago with our 3.5 yr old and did not find a preschool slot for him for 3 months. He also loved preschool, and REALLY loved his friends (both in and out of preschool). We finally found something in March that took him until the end of the school year, but then we would have had to start him in a summer program with new kids, before starting him in yet another (much better, in our minds, but different) program in September. (They had no openings until then.) So we opted to keep him out of anything for the summer. A lot of transition - I felt no lack of guilt - but he was totally and completely fine with all of it. Once we moved he got lots of one-on-one time with me (and his little sister), which he loved. We did lots of exploring together, arts and crafts, libraries, etc. And we made (and received) cards for/from his old friends and his old preschool class - that helped a lot. I did decide to enroll him in the one place in March, when they had an opening, because it was clear he'd benefit from more time with other kids - but he wasn't unhappy in the meantime. It took a bit of time to adjust to the new preschool, but he ended up liking it and having fun C and it was great for all of us in that we met new families through the preschool. It was worth it.

Kids adjust very quickly at that age, and seem to find the fun in just about any situation. Moving can be sad, but also exciting. For us it would have been a lot harder to suddenly lose daddy during the week than to go all together to a new place and start exploring, making friends, etc. In one year's time he was in three different preschools, with two ''breaks'' of several months each where he was strictly with family. A lot of change and yet I don't think he was scarred in any way - he's perfectly well-adjusted and happy, and still loves school. The only rather funny aftereffect - he recently asked me what school he was going to next year, because ''I'll have been here (kindergarten) a whole year, and that's enough - don't I get to try another school after that?'' Good luck.

Hello. We are currently in a similar situation. My husband accepted a new job in Connecticut in November. Since our son had just started preschool in September, we decided to stay in the Bay Area until the end of February (coinciding with his 4th birthday). Our son LOVES his school and we hated to move him so soon after the start of the year. He has great little friends, fabulous teachers, and we were concerned about disrupting his ''routine''. My husband left a week ago and the separation has been unbearable for my son. He is crying every day asking when we can ''go on the plane and be with daddy''. We had the best of intentions in staying behind, but he is too young to understand our reasons and only knows that we are here and Daddy is not. I, too, worry about the lapse in time that he will be out of school (4 months) but feel that it is better to be together as a family and miss out on a few months of preschool than to stay here and miss daddy/dh so much. Not to mention, it is exhausting to be home alone with two little ones and get ready for a household move. I say, stick together as a family. There will be plenty of preschool friends and experiences after the move. My .02
We moved to the Bay Area from So Cal when our daughter was 18 months and was in the same school situation as yours. Our daughter was in a Montessori program that she adored and when we moved here we could not find an opening for her in a school for 6 months. It was a horrible disaster. Moving was hard enough on her but my daughter is not good at transitions to begin with. To make matters more complicated, I was 7 months pregnant with her little sister. However, I really think that leaving her school, her friends and her trusted routine was what really made her miserable. Almost 2 years later, she still hasn't really recovered. She is much more angry and mistrustful than she was. When we finally got her into a school she loves again she became much happier. The thing is that I don't know that waiting until the end of the semester would've helped. It was the taking her out of the comfortable, trusted and familiar environment that was the issue for her and that would've happened had we waited or not. She was out of school for 6 months when we moved but I think it was actually better for her to be at home with me because she felt safe with me. Angry maybe but safe. Anyway, I don't know the answer but if you want to hear more aout our experience, feel free to e-mail me off list. Good luck. lynn
This was also an issue for us when my husband & I decided to move from Berkeley to the Sierra Foothills last year. Our daughter was also 3 1/2 when we moved last year. We stressed out over the impact it might have on her and now looking back at it, it was more our anxiety over the move. We talked with several friends who had also moved when their children were at the same age, and the response was the same. The kids make friends fairly easily and the transition can be a very positive thing if present that way. We pulled her out of her preschool, which she loved & had many friends, in April. We were not able to start her in her new preschool until June. During that time she was able to spend alot of quality time with her grandparents & my husband during the weekdays. On the weekends we did a lot of exploring as a family. And it brought us all closer together. Although she would ask if she was ever going back to school. She made friends at her new school within a week and wanted to have playdates and was invited to birthday parties within a month. Through her friends at school, we have now made very good friends with some of the parents. Its my feeling that it might be more stressful for everyone to have your husband move first just to keep her in school. Take the time off from school to explore your area, teach her how to ski, join some classes you can do together, once you start school again its harder to find the time to do all of the fun gymastic/swimming/sports classes. Good luck, A

Books for kids about moving

March 2003

Hi - we're going to be moving in the next month or two and would love to get recommendations for books that may be appropriate to help a 4.5-year-old prepare for the change. We're just moving within the same town and her school will not change. She seems excited about the new house, but I'm not sure if reality will match her excited anticipation once we move simply because she is not great with transitions. Thanks! Lori

We have one about kids moving into a new castle (''We're Moving''), but can't remember the author. Frank Asch (''Goodbye House'')and the Berenstain's have good books too for the preschool set. Happy Moving! anon
When we moved, our real estate agent gave us ''Make Way For Ducklings''. It's a classic - perfect for your child's age. I'm sure you can find it in the library. ellen
One of the best books about moving is: ''Alexander, who's not (do you hear me? I mean it!) going to move'' by Judith Viorst. Good and funny, it will most likely jump-stat some interesting talks. good luck

Helping a toddler adjust to a move

December 1996

We will be moving soon (from Daly City to Novato). We have had the same home day care provider for 4 years. Our youngest son, 27 months old, gets very distraught when he is left alone with someone other than our day care person, my husband or myself. It is better if his older brother (5 years old) is around. When we move, our 5 year old will have to adjust to a new preschool and day care. Our younger son, for the first time, will be in group day care. Any helpful hints for helping them adjust to a new home, new daycare, and new school? Thanks, Janis

We moved when our daughter was about 22 months old. Unfortunately, our daughter was being taken care of elsewhere while we did most of the moving. Because of time constraints we ended up dumping everything into the new place so we could rush over to San Francisco, have dinner and pick up our daughter. By the time we got back to the new place, it was dark and late, and our daughter had fallen asleep in the car. She woke up as we carried her into the house and she was completely disoriented and traumatized by the disorder. She literally cried hysterically for hours. We even got up at 3 in the morning to drive around in the car hoping she'd calm down and fall back asleep--which she did. Only she awoke as soon as we returned and continued crying hysterically for several more hours. Finally, in a state of exhaustion she fell asleep. The next day she was a bit better but when we went out for a walk, on our return to the new house she lay down on the sidewalk and cried about wanting to go to the other house. By the second day she was fine, and shortly after she seemed to have no recall of the former house. We even drove by it a few times but she didn't seem to recognize it. So, to make a long story short, young kids can be very sensitive to change, much more than we ever realized. If possible, you might try to move gradually. Perhaps you could get your child's room unpacked early so she could get accustomed to the new room. Perhaps having your child present when the actual moving is done will help her see what is happening as words alone won't make any sense if she has never moved before. Minimizing the chaos might also help. But on the bright side, it would seem as if the trauma is shortlived as kids are very adaptable. Our daughter quickly liked her new home and the novelty of a new place. Having her parents and toys and routine remain the same meant that only one part of her life had changed. That also helped. Good luck. Maria
Well, I guess I oughta come clean: I am a hanger-on, now living in Austin after moving away from Berkeley in the fall, after my husband's visiting professorship ended. I like participating in this group because 1) a lot of what we talk about are issues common to parents in general, not just parents in Berkeley; 2) we hope to return to Berkeley ASAP, but of course that depends on the availability of academic jobs; and 3) I like the group! In any case, I save all the info that I hope will come in handy some day, like stuff about public schools. And we do visit Berkeley often (just returned from a 3-week holiday visit, where we took your advice re: haircuts and Xmas lights and Fairyland Santa), as my husband's family and all our graduate-school buddies are there.

That said, the rest of this message won't sound quite so odd. I responded in the last digest with some tips on moving; there are a few more below. When we moved in August, Danny (2.5 yo) changed to a much bigger daycare (4 classes of 10-12, instead of one group of 6-12), moved to a new house in a new state, no longer saw the friends that he was just learning to socialize with, and no longer saw his grandparents, to whom he is very close. I was very anxious about how he would adjust. But I think he did amazingly well. Maybe he did so well because he is gregarious, maybe because he had some vague memories of Texas (he lived here until he was 13 months old) and saw pictures of our house and friends while we were visiting in Berkeley.

Plan to spend *a lot* of time with your youngster to help him/her adjust. I was surprised to find that I had to spend two weeks of attending my son's new day care with him, from 2 to 6 hours at a stretch. Also, the first time we stayed through nap time, I lay down beside him 'til he fell asleep, then read in the next room until the kids got up; the next day I told him that I would run an errand while he slept but that I'd come back when he woke up. We kept his days there short until we felt like he was comfortable with the place, but we were careful to take him for at least a part of each day. I suppose I could've spent less time with him, but I just could not bear the thought of him feeling abandoned among strangers. After we started leaving him there by himself, he did occasionally cry when it was time for us to go (the caregivers say he stops quickly), but he never cries when we take the time to make sure he's involved in some activity. Now, he loves the place and won't leave when I come to pick him up early (although he's happy for me to stay with him all afternoon).

You also have to be really clear with yourself that you are happy (and not ambivalent) about the arrangements. I was sad to leave California, and uneasy (at first) about putting Danny in such a big day care, and I think that these uneasy feelings were clear to him and prolonged his adjustment.

In the new neighborhood, we made an effort to go to each new park or pool or special place (museum, zoo, etc.) a few times in a row, and tell him their names, so that he would feel secure in the new places. We also have a regular playdate every Saturday, with the same group of kids. This may be the hardest part to set up, if you are new to a town, but I think it's worth the effort to try to make friends for your child quickly.

And don't be surprised if s/he backslides on toilet learning, sleeping independently, or any of those other milestones! With time, your child will settle in.

We are lucky that the Berkeley grandparents give us a good reason to go back to Berkeley often, so we are able to take him back to see his favorite places and friends. A few weeks ago we visited the house where we rented last year, and he told the 3 yo who lives there now: You know what, Sarah? I used to live in this house, and when this house got old, I moved to Texas! It seemed to us then that he was doing just fine.

Good luck with your move. Andrea