Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Guest Post: Emotional Bubble-Wrap for Young People Changing Homes - Julie Etter

I was 14 or 15 when my parents decided to sell our home. Our relatively quiet, 2 lane street was being expanded to 4 lanes, and we were losing our sidewalk. They wanted to move to a quieter street. I wanted to move nowhere. And I was a real pill about it. I didn't want to leave my home, my bedroom, my playground. Change, in my mind, was bad.

Skip forward many years, to when Jim and I decided it was time to move out of our rental townhouse and buy a place of our own. My step-son, aged 8, was really upset when we told him. On questioning, we realised he thought he'd have to leave his things behind - his bed and toys. Once we explained that would all come with us, and that we'd be sure to get him a big yard to play in, he was on board. He just didn't understand what it meant to move.

And now I am selling again and making a major move across the country, to be closer to my family. Michael, aged 12, is a little worried about leaving his friends behind and having to make new ones. I reminded him that he changed schools last year and made new friends there pretty quickly. Although he will still miss his buddies here, that helped him see this move would be ok. He was worried about the unknown.

Moves are stressful for everyone, and as parents we need to be attuned to how our kids are feeling about the big changes coming. And even the big changes during the process - keeping the house spotless for showings, disrupting regular schedules with needing to leave for open houses and viewings, etc. This piece from author and realtor, Julie Etter, arrived in my inbox last week, and it is so timely, I decided to share it with you. Keep these points in mind to help your kids make it successfully through your next move.


Moving can be hectic. It’s a contact sport. It’s physically and emotionally demanding at a time when you are supposed to still carry on the rest of life . . . jobs, dinner, rides to soccer. It’s a full-time job on top of a schedule that doesn’t have room for “another” job. So, in all of that, it’s easy to make mistakes with the kids and their involvement (or often lack-thereof) in the move.  As if there weren’t enough to think about, dealing with temper tantrums, outbursts, and sometimes intangible ways of fearful expressions, by kids in the middle of a move only adds to parental stress.  Below are some straightforward suggestions that parents can follow while moving children from one home to another. It all comes down to one fundamental component: involvement.
  • Let their wish-list be heard. Have kids identify what they love most about their current home and what they most want to see in a new home. Although this won’t erase all anxiety, there are often simple things that can be created to help with the child’s transition (e.g., a room color, a swing set, furniture you are moving with you anyway).
  • Bring the kids to see the new property. Often, and understandably so, children are left with babysitters while parents view homes. Although this is logical for the hunt, once a property is under agreement, and you know where specifically you are moving, set a time to go to the house. Between inspections, measurements, etc., there should be ample times when it’s appropriate for them to come to check it out.  At a minimum, this will allow their anxiety to be focused and hopefully more specifically identified than that of the unknown. This is also a good idea in respect to visiting a new school, if applicable.
  • Let them pack. Putting all the kids’ stuff in a box and telling them it will be at the next mysterious place creates uneasiness over what’s happening with their stuff.  In Lily and Andrew are Moving, a children’s book designed to identify and work with kids’ moving anxieties, each family member gets a colour. The colour-coded stickers are then placed on that member’s belongings/boxes for easy identification for moving location. That same colour is placed on that family members’ bedroom door for ease of identification.
  • Prepare yourself for extra emotional outbursts and use them as a foundation for conversation. One of the biggest complaints I get from parents is that the kids’ behaviour is very poor ,and it’s yet another stressor during a hectic time. Try to remember that everything going on and the stress you are feeling is undoubtedly affecting them. They may not know how to articulate why. Use these attention grabbers to, well, grab your attention and talk about the move with your child.
Most of all, just understand that the kids are moving, too. So, regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative move for the family, work through their reactions just as you do in your role as parent in any other life event. Trust, though, once everything is in motion, they are far more resilient than their adult counterparts.

Julie Etter is a professional, national award-winning realtor and former middle-school teacher based in Wrentham, MA. She is the author of Lily and Andrew Are Moving (Hardcover, $14.95; Kindle, $11.99), published by JT Publications, LLC. For more information, visit

Friday, February 09, 2018

Playing Hooky

Michael and I played hooky on Wednesday. Well, I guess, technically, I did work for a couple of hours while he slept in, and then ran around like a crazy person trying to get myself ready/presentable enough to leave the house, and the house ready/presentable enough for the viewing appointments scheduled for the day. But, from then on things started looking up.

It all started because he needed a doctor's appointment, and the only one available was smack dab in the middle of the day, making getting to school before or after pretty much pointless. Needless to say, Michael did not complain about the opportunity to sleep in. After the doctor ,we ran an errand that helped with my purging, so I got a little burst of accomplishment. And then we headed to the mall.

Our plan was lunch in the food court (honestly, I hardly ever cook since the house went on the market), then shopping for jeans that would actually cover his ankles. (24 inch waist, 28 inch inseam. Shoot me!) But we walked in through the cinemas and saw that "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" was playing at 3:30. Tempting! Michael got to choose lunch (A&W because he loves their BLT Chicken Burger & root beer), and then he got to choose movie over shopping.

Love this boy!

Honestly, it was an excellent decision. The movie was great, and I can't believe it took us this long to get to it. But even more than that, sitting in an almost empty theatre on a weekday afternoon, with my boy and a big bag of popcorn did me a world of good. Two and a half hours of not thinking about selling my house. Not thinking about all the little things that need to get done. Not worrying about what happens if I don't sell this place by the deadline in my offer on our new home. It was just what I needed.

And after that we did have a little look at a couple of stores, and we managed to find men's jeans in size 26x30 at Bluenotes. Add a belt, a little roll at the bottom, and they work! Actually, Michael said they were no good because they were too long. I had to laugh. He's never had that problem before, and it never occurred to him that pants could be hemmed. What a concept!

Bottom line, I highly recommend allowing yourself to take a day, or even just a few hours, off from your regular routine. Especially if you've got a ton going on and are feeling the stress. You'll come back refreshed and better able to tackle whatever it is on your plate. Honest. It worked for me :)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Alzheimer Society of Toronto's #WalkForMemories #ad

Aren't these ladies lovely? This is my maternal grandmother (top right) and her three sisters. (There was another sister, the youngest, but she passed away from influenza as a toddler.) I adore this picture, and I am so happy that someone thought to pose them and take it. And that it has survived and made it into my hands.

The picture makes me a little sad as well. Every one of these beautiful, vibrant, loving, smiling women developed Alzheimer's Disease or another form of dementia in their later years. So did their mother, my great-grandmother. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease, and it can affect different people in different ways. It steals your memories and impairs your ability to think, make decisions, and even to access the right words. It can bring about personality changes and cause the individual to behave in truly uncharacteristic ways, including sometimes violent outbursts. Individuals with Alzheimer's can become withdrawn, apathetic and lose the ability to control their moods and emotions. They may develop odd habits, like repeating the same action over and over again. Eventually, Alzheimer's takes away a person's independence when they can no longer perform the most basic everyday tasks. It steals the whole of your being.

Over time, my grandmother went from being a little forgetful, and no longer caring about her garden and houseplants, through being constantly afraid, to no longer knowing who any of us were. I remember going home to visit, and telling her I was pregnant. She was so happy for me, but only as she would be for any young mother. There was no connection. The next summer, when I brought my son with me, we visited her in the nursing home. It was wonderful to see how happy she was to hold and play with a baby. But he wasn't her baby. She couldn't grasp that this was her great-grandson. She wasn't even truly aware that the man at her bedside was her husband of 60 years. She just knew him as the good man who looked after her. Looking back, my mother says she should have known something was wrong when Nan started neglecting her plants and her housework. That wasn't her. That was the beginning of the disease taking her from us. We lost her a long time before her death in 2006.

I can only image how isolating and terrifying Alzheimer's must be for the person experiencing it. I do know that for those who love them, it is incredibly difficult to watch, and absolutely heart-breaking to be a spectator as your loved one slowly disappears. It is also quite frightening for me to have such a strong family history of the disease. According to the Alzheimer Society, there is a familial form of the disease, passed on through generations, but this only accounts for 7% of all cases. Still, for my mother, myself, my son, I worry. For us and for all the others this disease touches, I keep the Alzheimer Society of Toronto on the list of charities I regularly support. My support helps them to support and educate families living with this disease and to fund research into treatments and maybe even, one day, a cure.

This year, for the first time, I will be participating in the Alzheimer Society of Toronto's Walk for Memories. This is Canada's largest walk for Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, and sees thousands of walkers come out each year to raise vital funds. This year's Toronto walk takes place on Saturday, February 3, from 8:30 am - 12:00 noon. I was initially hesitant, because I am not such a huge fan of winter and cold weather. But, guess what! This one is an indoor walk!

The Walk for Memories is a 2.2km indoor walk that takes place in the underground PATH downtown. It begins and ends at the Sheraton Centre Hotel, so participants will stay warm throughout. The walk will include some great music and entertainment, and an expected 1,500 or more individuals who have been touched by Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias.

It's an early start, so I'll be taking advantage of the chance to stay overnight Friday at the Sheraton. And I won't be alone. Ahead of the walk, the Alzheimer Society of Toronto is hosting a Family Slumber Party Friday night, February 2. Michael will be coming with me, for the slumber party and the walk itself. Friday night will a fun chance to spend some time with other families participating. There'll be a pizza party with games and arts & crafts at 6:00pm, followed by storytime at 7:30pm. We'll want an early night to rest up, I am sure.

I'm looking forward to sharing this event with Michael, and taking the opportunity to talk to him more about this important cause and the importance to giving back where we can. He has participated with me on other fundraising walks in the past, and we always enjoy the time to together, doing something that benefits others.

What are you doing on February 3? Why not join us! You can register yourself, your spouse, your parents, your kids, and maybe start a family tradition of charitable involvement. Registration is free, and there are no fundraising minimums, but of course the more money (and awareness!) we raise, the better.

I'd love to see you at the Walk, but if you aren't able to make it, perhaps you could consider making a donation. You can do this online at my personal sponsorship page. Every dollar helps!!

In the meantime, wish us luck with our fundraising efforts and with the walk itself! As a suburbanite, I have to admit the PATH scares me a little - I get so turned around down there. It will be fun to be there with a group, and a defined path to follow. I'll be getting to know a part of Toronto that is still quite a mystery to me!

Get Social

You can connect with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For updates on the Walk, follow the hashtag #WalkForMemories.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Alzheimer Society of Toronto. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own or those of my family.


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