Last week I had some tips about how to handle things when you are moving a parent into your home. However, sometimes, we have to help our parents move out, even if they aren't moving in with us! Parents may downsize and sell your childhood home or they may have a life changing circumstance that causes them to move. I have helped parents move and I have downsized and had help from my kids. So I have some tips to manage this situation in the best way you can!
Timing is Everything - Everyone sees things through different eyes. You may see how your parents need help with this or that, or the opposite-you may still see your parents as super heroes can't imagine anything changing in their lives! But, your parents KNOW when they need to make a change. They may begin to talk about changes for a long time before they are actually ready to make a change or a circumstance may make them seem to make a sudden decision (at least sudden to you). The truth is, it is up to your parents when they feel the time is right to make a move. Pushing your parents to make changes or not make changes isn't going to help them move any faster or slower and generally will just put tension between all of you. Let them judge when the time is right. When they have decided that the time is at hand, then offer to help them with what they need, even if you don't agree with their decision. When you were learning to be an adult, you wanted your parents support even if they didn't agree with your choices at times, so now is the time to pay that back--or forward, setting the example for your children.
Offer Your Help, but Don't Push - When I said offer to help, I mean on the level that they want your help. They may have certain ways they will want things done--and you may have different ideas, so listen to what they want and need. When I was moving out of the home I raised my kids in, my daughters were all helping me go through stuff. On one particular occasion, my youngest really pushed me on something and we had a not-so-good-moment. I wasn't ready for what she was telling me. On the flip side, I was helping my mother-in-law a year later move and I pushed a little to hard some times, but thankfully I didn't push too terribly hard and cause an issue. I hoped I had learned something from the year before! Giving your suggestions and ideas are good, just know when to limit them. In other words "read the room"!
Help Keep Things on Track - Helping them keep things on track is a really important. Moving is an overwhelming task and every so often it can take over and make whatever job you are doing seem to drag on and on. If you aren't the one moving, it's a bit easier to see what needs to happen next and keep that the focus. I can't tell you how wonderful this was for me when I was moving. My kids kept me going when I just wanted to give up at times! They helped me accomplish so much in so little time I couldn't believe it. I hope that my husband's mother felt the same way when we were helping her!
Be Ready to Lend a Shoulder - Lending a shoulder might be a bit tougher when your folks are moving out of your childhood home because you will need a shoulder possibly yourself! Your parents may feel the need to be strong so that you aren't upset, and honestly, all of you may need time to just let it all out. Our parents were there to make us feel better in hard moments of our lives, it's good to be there for them. You know that saying "you can't see the forest for all of the trees"? Well, sometimes with our family members, we don't really see them as we would if we were helping a stranger do something. Try to put yourself in their shoes and really empathize with them if necessary. Going through something together really can bond a family. It's one of the best benefits when times are tough.
Offer Your Talents - Are you good on the phone? Are you strong and able to move furniture and other big stuff? Are you good at organizing or sorting? Can you cook? We all have certain areas of "expertise" we can offer our parents while they are moving. Maybe you live far from your parents and you can't be there during the daily packing and sorting, what can you do to help? Can you come on moving day? Can you have a pizza delivered for your mom so she doesn't have to cook when she is exhausted? How about make some phone calls that your folks need made so that have one less thing to worry about. Everyone has something they can do. Make sure you offer that. Your parents may not know that you would be willing to use that talent for them and may never ask, so put it out there! Whether they need it or not, just offering can help ease your parents mind knowing someone has their back.
The Appreciation is Forever Remembered - Whether you come from a family that says all those wonderful things to each other all the time, or not, the truth is, your parents will ALWAYS remember when you were there for them in their time of need. It is an amazing feeling when your kids are there for you after you have been there for them and as you help your parents, you feel good being able to do something for them after they have cared for you. It is just a never forgotten blessing all around--no matter what is ever said out loud.