Some of these ideas might apply to other disruptions in routines—illness, injury, bereavement, damage to the house, trips away from home, etc.

Ideas for dealing with moves, for unschooling families

#1, remember that changing houses is high on the list of stressors, and will affect everyone, even if it's a happy change.

#2, everything else below

My husband just changed jobs...

August 2018

My husband just changed jobs and we are in a hurry to sell our house, so we can relocate and stay with him. In the chaos of planning, packing, and cleaning, I haven’t been able to take my kids out on our usual “adventures.” They seem fine. They have been using the time to play outside and watch more tv. But I’m feeling guilty. Should I just get over it? Is there some way that we can connect while I do all of this work? (They are ages, 7, 5, & 3.)
-=-They have been using the time to play outside and watch more tv. But I’m feeling guilty. Should I just get over it? -=-



When you get resettled, there were be lots of new adventures.

If they seem fine, they probably ARE fine. Playing they're doing because they want to is likely to be as good and useful as the playing they would do if you took them to a park. Really. And watching more TV, when they can do other things if they want to, is nothing to worry about.

When you get resettled, there were be lots of new adventures—even the playing outside will be all very new and thought-provoking and idea-sparking, so don't feel guilty when you get there and need to unpack and arrange the house. 😊

Thank you. I’m starting to realize that the more we become a truly, radically, unschooling family the more this process is about me getting over my own issues.
Sandra Dodd:
Deschooling is that! 🙂

But sometimes new unschoolers can become attached to the idea of constant outings and explorations. Those are great! But in the case of an interruption like this house-sale and move, remember that kids in school might get two field trips a year. Maybe one.

Kids will learn from what they see of your activities to get the house ready to sell, and in the packing and planning. They don't need to see all of it to get some peripheral learning in.
(since you used the term issues... I'll throw that one out there)

Natalie Ann:
Yes! Get over it! This is life. If you get the chance, pick up some maps (free from aaa if you’re a member) and let them explore the new area you’re moving to! Even let them help plan the route and the road trip. Kids are always learning and don’t have to have special field trips to do so. Good luck with the move!!
Karen James:
We've moved a couple of times. I found the best thing I could do was to focus on having as smooth a move as possible.

Consider too, maybe your kids *are* having adventures playing outside and watching tv! 🙂

Jo Isaac:
We have moved multiple times, across states, across continents. I have found my son tends to cocoon both during the pre-move time, when I'm busy packing, cleaning, etc, and also post-move time, when we are in the new house/town.

In some ways I think it is his way of protecting himself from the moving process - I keep his computer and DVD player out until the last minute if I can, and they are the first things I put up at the new house, when I can.

Moving can be hugely disrupting for kids, especially since it's out of their control, so if they are finding ways to cope with that and keep things as normal as possible, help them do those things!

And expect them to maybe cocoon when you come out the other end, too - while they get used to their new house.

This was my theory too. We talked about how it’s hard to feel like this is happening to you. We’ve been making lists of things we want to do before we leave and when we get where we’re going. But they do seem to be avoiding what I’m doing by going deep into their virtual worlds. Thanks.

We are moving cross country for 3 months

July 2018

We are moving cross country for 3 months. Our plans after that will depend on things we cannot predict right now. My 10 year old is struggling. He cries whenever the subject is brought up; concern for missing his friends, making new friends and then having to leave those. We have offered to buy him a new laptop, which would make connecting with his friends online easier. He likes that idea.

How have you navigated something like this? I need words, actions or ideas to ease his pain and provide hope for him.

Sylvia Woodman:
Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person's life. Friendships are very important to a lot of tweens and teens. I think it is good that you are taking his feelings seriously. Is it possible for you to arrange for your son to come visit his friends at some point during the three months? Or have one fly out to see you? My kids are able to keep in touch with friends using Skype and Discord so they can game online together. There are some other resources as well like Rabbit so they can watch movies and shows together virtually. Maybe look into some of these options as well.
Sandra Dodd:
Instead of looking for friends when you get there for three months, you could treat it like a vacation—do all the touristy things. See all the interesting sites. Explore the town. Keep busy like tourists. If you're still there for a while, when the unpredictable parts settle out, then you'll also have some ideas about what's happening in that town as to hobbies, clubs, gaming shops, skate parks, martial arts or theatre... stuff like that might be a great way to make friends, later, when you settle.
Yes. There is so much to see and explore! My brain never brought me to this idea; When he started crying about going, I immediately started frantically searching for groups to join there, so he could meet friends, which has not gone well. He does spend a lot of his time preparing/playing D&D; discord is an option to maintain that for him. Maybe, once we are there, we can find a gaming store for D&D in person.
Sandra Dodd:
I think it's better to look at the hobbies and interested rather than at individuals. Let friendships develop gradually and naturally, and not be a sort of kid-blind-date or arranged-marriage thing. Too many homeschool / playgroups are that way. Parents want their kids to be friends with other kids their age in the group. it's too forced, and the subject of the group is "my parents didn't send me to school" (or at best, "I don't go to school"). That's not much basis for a real friendship!
Lesley Peebles Clark:
Sandra, this reminds me of our mutual friend Cathy Koetsier. Whenever they moved to a new place, they got a tourist book and went exploring 🙂 Once, when dad went on an overseas trip, Cathy loaded all five kids, and nanny, into the car, and took a car trip from East London to Cape Town, a distance of 1050 km. It took about two weeks to arrive at the international airport in Cape Town. In time to meet dad when he arrived back from America 🙂
I have found a Tong So Do studio close to the home we are renting. All three children like taking karate and this could be an option as well. But, I may just take a month off from scheduling anything so we can be free to explore together.
Sandra Dodd:
Also consider overnight trips to places that would have been a huge impossibility from where you are now, but are only one motel-stay and a couple of drives from the temporary new place. There might be theatre, sports, or concerts within a half-day drive. You could make a memory for all of them for life, with a concert.
Jo Isaac:
==How have you navigated something like this? I need words, actions or ideas to ease his pain and provide hope for him.==

Every two years, my son and I go to the UK for six or seven weeks to visit my family. It's not quite as long as you will be away, but it's significant time to be away from home AND away from his Dad (we can't all afford to go).

Words don't help. He, like your son, often doesn't want to talk about the trip beforehand - we've been doing this since he was little, and this year he's 12 - he now just has a resigned acceptance of the whole thing.

At ten, your son knows he's going, if he doesn't want to talk about it, there are probably no words right now that will help him, so I would respect his wish not to talk about it.

Remember that the trip is out of his control - that is scary for him, especially because he doesn't want to go.

For my son - things that help - taking his laptop and skyping/discord his friends while we are at Grandma's. Planning fun trips - last trip to the UK we went to Harry Potter Studio Tour, Natural History Museum, Cadburys Chocolate tour, and a bunch of other stuff - and for us, making sure he can always Skype his Dad (but you probably won't have that problem).

Keeping aware while you are away of his need for down time days, and balancing those with being busy and out and about.

You might find, with Discord, he has no real urge to meet new friends (also there is the real problem of having to also say goodbye to any new friends, too).

-=-At 10, your son knows he's going, if he doesn't want to talk about it, there are probably no words right now that will help him, so I would respect his wish not to talk about it.-=-

Yes. I need to bring it up less around him. My other two children are excited and looking forward to going. They often ask questions starting with..”When we go to...” and then the oldest gets sad. They are aware that he doesn’t want to leave his friends and maybe they are trying to get him excited as well by mentioning things they are excited about.

Jo Isaac:
My son has been very clear, the past two trips (he was 8 and 10) that he did NOT want it discussed, or even mentioned before we left.

If there are things your kid is into, try and incorporate day trips, visits that he will love - a gaming convention, or Comic Con, museums, performances, restaurants if they are into food, etc.



Just an update, an FYI...

I followed some of the advice here. We bought a gaming laptop for my oldest and he has been on Discord and Steam with friends and he is loving it! (Kinda wish I had done this months ago.)

Yesterday, when I told them it was time for parkday (we meet friends at the park weekly), my oldest said, “I have had enough friend time today online, I would like to make an escape room for you all to work through.”

He then spent two hours writing clues, setting up the house and then directing us through it with a “laser maze” he created with string.

We took our time enjoying all of that and then still had time to make it to parkday (other siblings still wanted to go, my oldest agreed to go for them). He had fun at the park. I bought a California tourist guide and left it in the backseat of the car, yesterday, on our way to parkday, he picked it up and read the section about Gold Rush Country and has started to talk on his own with some excitement this morning. This has made my heart happy and my soul relaxed.

The original, of Linda's question: here on facebook; it was still there in 2024, freely accessible

Building an Unschooling Nest



Title art by Devyn Dodd, 2024