be the change


How to make moving schools an adventure

Moving schools as a kid can be daunting and scary. It can also be daunting as a parent, watching your child walk away into a new place.

My daughter and I are moving across town and she will be starting a new school in a week. It is going to be a tough transition from school to school, but I have a few ideas on how to make the change smoother. The number one priority for me is making sure my daughter feels that moving is an adventure rather than a terrifying reality. I’ve been really positive about the move every time we talk about it (though as we all know, moving can be VERY stressful), and I tell her the fun and new recreational activities and school events she will be a part of in our new neighbourhood.

In a sense I feel like a real estate agent who is selling the neighbourhood to a five-year old. She’s had the official tour of the street, seen the school, and I’m taking her along with us through all the steps so that she feels involved. Oftentimes, I think what scares children is feeling out of control of their own lives. As parents, we take our children from place to place without considering their choices. Though I can’t let my kindergartener make our life decisions, I can make her feel like she is a part of the change. When it comes to my daughter’s new recreation activities, it is her choice.  She gets to feel like she is in control.

Another way to help children move is to listen to how they feel about it. I like to get down on my daughter’s level (my little three-footer) and ask her how she is doing. Sharing feelings is empowering and often helps more than faking it. I’ve always asked my daughter how she feels, and it helps her feel better. She has admitted she is sad about leaving her friends at school, for example, and I responded by saying that is okay. I let her know it is perfectly acceptable to express tough emotions and responding to them is the best way to show empathy for her feelings. After discovering she is sad about leaving, I asked her if visiting her friends at her old school would make her feel better. She decided that was a good idea, and felt better after we talked and made a plan.

If kids can’t visit their old school, another method is to give your child a picture of their old school, or to make sure that your child can stay in touch with friends after you part ways. This helps the transition and makes kids feel they aren’t losing their whole lives. I have a pretty social child, but if you have a shy kid then sometimes drawing a picture also helps to communicate the feelings surrounding the move.

Even if all of these steps are taken, the reality is that the first few weeks of school will still be difficult. Change is hard, and being surrounded with new children is a transition. I plan on being very patient with my daughter in the first couple weeks of school, and if she is more testy than usual, it will be easy to see why. With social children, I hope she will make friends. If she is struggling though, planning a playdate with another child or joining activities with other kids from the school might help her along in her adjustment.

At the end of the day, change is a part of life, and all of us big and small have to figure out how to adjust to it. Even though I can still take every step possible to make sure my daughter is protected from feeling the negative side effects of moving, she has to experience it for herself. The best I can do as a mom is to love her and support her however she needs. I know I’ll tell her on the way to school that she is a great little girl and doesn’t need to worry. If she struggles to make friends at first, I’ll sit down and play dolls with her more often than usual to make her feel better. No matter what, she has me and everything else will fall into place naturally if she has support and love by her side.

What do you think is the most important step to take when moving kids from school to school? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

What we can learn from 18-year-old Instagram Star, Essena O’Neill

We’ve all been known to exaggerate on social media once in awhile, especially as a millennial. With the use of an Instagram filter and the right caption, we now have the ability to make a slice of cheesecake look glamorous. The question is; why do we do it? Is it for the likes or the affirmation? Or is it, in fact, to have a life beyond our 9-5 jobs and textbooks?

Eighteen-year-old Instagram star (apparently that’s a thing) Essena O’Neill may not have found the answer to this question, but what she did realize was that social media is not worth it. The realization went so far as to provoke the Australian teen to delete her Instagram account. In turn, she launched a website called Let’s Be Game Changers where she now posts videos – on Vimeo – ranting about the problems with social media and the beauty of becoming vegan. Cute. O’Neill then went on to challenge her followers to go without social media for one week. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other website ”where you can see others online”.

She has since created a so-called “social revolution,” which has gone viral. Obviously, O’Neill’s project has garnered positive feedback, but the question arises as to whether or not her and her followers have responded to this realization too dramatically. With millions of accounts on Instagram today, it is unfair to come to the conclusion that everyone on the social media site is unauthentic.

Despite her intention of creating ”social change”, O’Neill was criticized as a fame-grabber: for deleting her account for reasons other than sending an important message—but to get more attention. The accusations don’t seem like they are too far from reality. The fact of the matter is, if your Instagram account is making you feel miserable, you are not using it properly. As an 18 year old with over the half a million followers, O’Neill was bound to get a little overwhelmed trying to impress her fans.

So instead of deeming her a social media queen or a hoax in the making, it’s best just to commend her for her efforts in taking control of her mental health. However, we hope that O’Neill takes this opportunity to learn not to get too involved with virtual reality. Of course, it’s not for us to judge whether deleting her social media account is the right solution. In fact, all we can do is yearn for a time where Generation Y can find a balance when it comes to using social media platforms.

It’s a fun challenge to take on—to stay off of social media for a few days. In a world where we get our daily news from our Twitter feeds and lust over actors and actresses while we scroll down on Instagram, cleansing ourselves from social media can make us see the beauty of the outdoors. Remember what grass feels like? Bottom line; don’t dismiss O’Neill because she’s 18. Celebrate her because she is.

She may be a special cause—not every 18 year old has 500 000+ followers — but it is a good indication of the challenges Generation Y faces in terms of distinguishing social media from just being social. We hope O’Neill finds happiness and contentment in her new project. Good luck to everyone!