Rafts and Routines: How We are Surviving This Transition

You guys, moving is not for the faint of heart.

This part of January always drags for me anyway; Christmas is solidly over, but there’s still very little sunshine and lots of cold (although this year has been pretty mild on that front–thanks, Missouri!). But combine those winter blahs with grief over upcoming goodbyes, most of our school materials still being in storage, and an unfamiliar bed, and it’s kind of a perfect storm of motivation killers.

Dishes pile up in the sink, and it’s hard to care enough to wash them when they aren’t even mine.

I stay up way later than I should for “just one more?” episode because I know that tomorrow doesn’t have much in the way of  plans or structure.

And anytime getting Andy’s frozen custard comes up, I’m all “why not? It’s probably our last chance….”

Suffice it to say that I understand why people say they don’t want to move ever again.

To anyone who has ever been in any transitional housing for any length of time, my heart goes out to you. It is just plain hard to keep my chin up and keep pressing forward in the midst of the chaos that is our life right now.

I knew in my head, from the time I spent right after college working with missionary families, that transition is rough and it’s important for the well-being of your family to handle it carefully.

But I didn’t really know what that meant until now. So I revisited some of the strategies we used to share with missionary families, and I’ve found a couple things that are really making a difference for our family right now.

  1. R.A.F.T. transition model

    While I won’t go into all the details here, RAFT is model that was designed by third-culture kid expert David C Pollack to help families in transition. (You can read more about how it works here and here.) The letters stand for Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewell, and Think Destination.

    For us, this means we are making lots of time right now for the special people and places we will miss when we leave the Springfield area. It means we are not shying away from the pain of goodbyes, but giving ourselves space to grieve.

    It also means we are talking a bunch with the boys about what we think Nashville will be like, and what we are looking forward to about living there. We even brought them along on a whirlwind weekend trip out to Tennessee so they could be with us when we walked through the house we are trying to buy. It will be their home, too, and to us, including them in the process was worth two full days together in the car.

  2. Basic family routines

    And when I say basic, I mean basic. Please don’t imagine this means we are rising before dawn and accomplishing some long list of chores every day, because that is so not what our life is like right now at all. (Case in point: It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, the boys and I are still in pajamas, and the Chex Mix we’re snacking on will probably end up counting as lunch.)

    But I am trying, as best as I can, to mostly keep doing a handful of normal things that mark our days and weeks when life is more stable. I’m making my bed every morning, we are eating our normal, go-to breakfasts most days (oatmeal or scrambled eggs), we are reading Bible stories every night before bed, and we eat pizza and watch movies together at least one night over the weekend, preferably Friday.

If you have any type of transition coming up for your family, I hope these simple suggestions are helpful for you. They are sure helping me right now.

Of course, now that I’m looking at what I’ve written, it’s occurring to me that a made bed and a Friday pizza is all that stands between me and complete anarchy, so maybe pray for our family if you think about it? I know lots of you have been, and I can’t tell you enough how much that means to me and Jason.

We are blessed to have so many wonderful friends surrounding us during this season, and if you’re reading this blog, that includes you. I love you all!