We just finished our second move in as many years. I mean we just finished, as in I am sitting here with boxes still at my feet.
We sold our first house almost two years ago to move into a better school zone. Our daughter was getting close to kindergarten age and although the elementary school was fine, we wanted better options for middle and high schools.
We decided not to rush into our next purchase, instead renting a townhouse in a school zone we love. We thought of it as an adventure, being in an urban (for Tampa) neighborhood: walking distance from restaurants, the bay and even the preschool.
It was fun, but we decided we wanted back in a neighborhood.
So now we've moved again: a family-friendly neighborhood with a yard, school friends across the street, a park down the road and family around the corner.
And yet, she still talks about wanting to move back to our house, our first house. She still misses the pink room her daddy painted and decorated for her.
It's a lot for a 5-year-old, moving twice in two years. Kids crave stability, but I want her to feel that wherever we live is home.
So, this time we had a game plan to try to make her comfortable with the move.
We told her she could pick out a color to paint her room. We had to veto the red and black she initially chose, but she finally picked a pretty soft pink, reminiscent of her room in the first house.
One of our friends recommended setting up her room first, so she has a space amid the chaos on her first day in the house. I did this and also packed a suitcase with a couple of days worth of clothes and pajamas and favorite stuffed animals so we could easily find these things and bedtime would go smoothly.
I resisted the urge to buy her a new comforter and room decorations because I wanted to keep her room familiar and comfortable until she's settled. The room is smaller than the one we just moved from but sweet and cozy.
A couple of days before the move, my daughter and I stopped by the house to check out her newly painted room and bring over a few boxes. While we were there, the neighbor's cat came over and my daughter was so excited to spend some time petting her.
Even though I had my own worries about the move, I put on my game face on the drive back to the townhouse and said, "Aren't you so excited to move in a couple days? I am! I think we are going to be so happy living there."
And finally, my daughter says, "Me, too. I feel so much better about it." When I ask her why, the answer is simple, "because of the cat. I'm so happy to have a cat to play with."
Maybe we can all take some advice from the children in our lives. The answer to a happy home, is usually pretty simple.
Elizabeth Freid Vocke is a married mother of one who lives in South Tampa.