Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: In two weeks, I’ll be moving with my 4-year-old daughter. It’s just across town, but my kiddo is soooo attached to our current home and I’m worried about how to help her adjust to the new place. I’m planning on painting and decorating her room the same way it is now so it’ll feel familiar when she gets there ... but at the same time, maybe she’d like it better if she got to pick new things? But new things and transitions are hard for her. Super awesome kid with really, really big emotions. Am I overthinking this?
No Place Like Home
No, you’re smart to at least try to get in front of it.
New things and transitions are hard in general, but they’re at their hardest for kids when they involve either too much responsibility or too little control. You want to hit the sweet spot in between, where you give your daughter some choices, so she feels empowered, but not so many that she feels overwhelmed (or that you get overwhelmed by demands). So, let her choose a few new things for her room, pack a box of her treasures, stage a ritual to say goodbye to the house — offering suggestions along the way so she’s not staring at the proverbial blank sheet of paper.
Meantime, keep life as normal as possible to pre-empt anxiety, and keep as much of the work of moving out of her daily path.
Piece of cake, right?!
It’s hard to pull off when you’re already stressed by moving, obviously, but 4 is mercifully young. She will adapt. Involving her thoughtfully is just about taking the edge off for you both.
Dear Carolyn: At what point can you ask people not to bring food into your home? In my family we keep kosher, I’m vegan, kids are vegetarian (their choice), husband eats poultry and fish. Within the family we have severe allergies and celiac disease. I am VERY conscious of labels, cross-contamination and allergens. We also don’t have alcohol around much for addiction issues.
I always make sure when we have a party that there are options for everyone, and check with guests for any unknown dietary issues. Yet, we have one friend who insists on bringing his own food.
Can I just tell him no? Stop inviting him? Suck it up and hope for the best (which I am very uncomfortable with)? My kids are used to home being the only place they can eat whatever is around, and they’ve chowed down on a guest’s food before I had a chance to even ask what was in it.
Wow. At least your food needs aren’t subtle!
You can tell anyone who gets pushy about it that you’ve got food restrictions that run from religious to humanitarian to life-or-death, which means any outside food has to be quarantined and detonated like the child’s sock in “Monsters, Inc.” Then you can say you’re kidding but not by much, so “please don’t bring any food.” Be that clear — none of this “Just bring yourself, we’ve got everything covered,” stuff.
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