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Saying Goodbye To Friends

Our next door neighbors are preparing to move in a couple of months.  It is a fabulous opportunity for them, but it is a very sad prospect for us.  We couldn’t have chosen better neighbors.  Their children are right around the same age as ours, and we spend the majority of our afternoons in our front yards, watching the kids ride bikes or scooters back and forth, playing make believe games and trading off houses fo sleepovers with the older ones.  When they leave, it will be a huge adjustment.

Our children are aware their dear friends are moving, but I do not think they fully understand the concept.  With our three year old, that is to be expected.  He will probably ask for a playdate with them for about a week before moving on to something else to hold his interest.  My eight year old will understand the ramifications to our built-in playmates no longer being around.  That will be quite a change for him.  So, we are starting now with a good way to bring closure to their relationship as it is now.  It is important that my children understand what is going on and that their feelings are okay, no matter what they may be.

Our older child has already expressed some anxiety over the situation.  What if someone new moves in and doesn’t have children?  Why won’t we be able to visit our friends all the time?  When will we see our dear friends again?

Our neighborhood is comprised of an amazing blend of ages and stages, from young couples to families to retired and widowed.  So, to alleviate the concern over the new people that will move in, we have already made a point to meet them.  Their children are grown, but their grandchildren will visit from time to time, and we will enjoy meeting them when they are here.  We will need to be careful not to pick “flowers” in their yard anymore or rearrange the stones or draw with sidewalk chalk on their driveway, but I am sure it will be a good relationship with them.  We have also made a huge effort to connect with a few more people in our neighborhood of varying ages, simply to show the children that age does not define a friendship.  This will help make the transition to the new neighbors a more comfortable experience for my children.

The distance our neighbors are moving isn’t cross-country, but it is significant enough to realize any visiting will be an effort.  Fortunately, our neighbors are moving to a location that is along the route to my in-laws’ house, so we can plan to stop in for lunch or a visit when we are making a trip to see the grandparents.  Understanding that we will be able to see them again is helping ease some of the stress of losing a friend.

Since our children are so close, we have started a couple of projects to make the transition and move smoother for everyone.  In the next couple of weeks, each child will be given a disposable camera.  We will take pictures of each other doing some of our favorite activities: playing in the yard, picnics on the porch, a trip to the Children’s Museum or local park, playing board games and even sitting on the back porch with a pile of books.  Each child will create a memory book to keep of the fun times they have together.

We have also arranged for a “goodbye party” for our friends.  We are inviting a few pals from school as well as a couple of neighbors from our block to a cookout.  Our cookout will be during the week that our neighbors will be moving.  The last thing they want to have to worry about is cooking and cleaning, and it gives the children an opportunity to spend some time with their friends.  In addition to this, my children will be writing letters to their friends prior to their move and mailing the letters to our friends’ new home.  Our friends will be excited to get mail at their new house, and hopefully this will help ease some of their issues with the move. 

While losing such a close set of friends will be a new experience for my children, I think that they will adjust well.  As a parent, it is my responsibility to recognize the feelings and emotions related with such a loss and help my children work through it.  With good communication and recognition of my children’s feelings, they will both find the experience to be healthy and positive.

Finding Rest For The Weary

Once again, our calendar for the fall overfloweth.  And, that’s just with my older son.  Cub Scouts, our mid-week ministry at our church, piano lessons, baseball practice and games…and that’s not even touching homework and chores.  Throw into the mix my husband’s frequent business trips, my younger son’s preschool and gymnastics schedule, and my insane world of three jobs, a bunko group, church choir, and teaching a parenting class at our church, and you have the makings for a bit of stress.

While there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it now, there is something we can do in the future.  That is, we can plan our rest.  Now, that might seem silly, but being the overplanner I am, it is necessary.  And, it is VERY easy to do. 

Our schedule is posted on the refrigerator.  I have a monthly calendar that puts each person on their own column, and at a glance I can see who needs to be where and when.  I know of others who use different colored pens on their calendars to denote each person’s events.  There are tons of ways to organize your family’s busy schedule.

To plan a “rest” for my family, I take a dark pencil (and always in pencil because, while I don’t like to eliminate our rest time, sometimes things happen and you have to make changes) and I shade in whatever day will be our rest days.  This fall, our “rest” is on Fridays after school. That’s our family time, our down time.  Last Spring, our “rest” was on Tuesdays.  It can vary, you can take more than one day, but the important thing is to take it.  Make it a point not to schedule meetings or playdates or anything on those days.

That doesn’t mean you don’t do ANYTHING.  Sometimes, we go to our nearby zoo.  Other times, we piddle around the house or head to a local park.  The point is to spend time together and not running back and forth to one event or another.

I hope your family finds lots of time to rest when things get crazy, whether you have to schedule it or not.  If you can’t enjoy each other, then what is all of it for?

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