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Even Happy Family Change Requires Adjustment Time

Wow – that’s about all I can say after moving the family into our new house last week.  Even with all of my careful preparation for this highly anticipated event, I learned the limits of my brain capacity.  It simply cannot get around the vastness of this task and process.

My oldest daughter and I looked wistfully at our old house as we stood in the driveway.  The new owners we about to sign papers and we were about to be homeless for a few hours (until we signed our own closing papers).  She and I were at once feeling the sentimental tug of our only family home and the buzzing excitement of all that was possible in our new home.

The mixed emotions, the sheer number of objects being gathered and moved, the difficulty maneuvering some large pieces to the new property, the uncertainty of how it will all magically line up on time, the pressure to get things complete and not spend too much money doing it.  And once you get to the new house, the adjustment goes on and on.

I made a really interesting observation about the girls last week.  If we had tried to make this move just two or three years ago, we would have had one interested helpful girl, one semi-interested preschooler, and an unhelpful toddler.  I had been wishing so hard for this for so long, but really this was just coming at the right age for them.  They were such troopers, all three of them.  If we had somehow needed to move earlier, we could have found a way to keep them busy.  But I’m grateful and pleased that they were so personally involved in the move.

Granted, the pace has slowed since the urgency level is a lot lower.  We all have toothpaste, finally.  We all have beds up, the kitchen is pretty much put together, and so on.  The kids have let their remaining boxes sit and we’ve been pretty liberal with the free play in the neighborhood.  My husband and I have backed off, too.  I even left town and went to a great football game at my alma mater over the weekend.  As much as I wanted to hang around my new house, it felt so good to let the stress go.

You can only do so much before the excitement of a big family change wears on you and turns you into a stressed out angry person.  We’ll have time on the weekends and I can pick at the pile in the garage in the next few weeks.  After all, life does go on.  And that’s the big message I’ve been getting.  People can do amazing things when they all pull together for the good of the cause.  But even excitement has to wane in exchange for some good down time.

I have to keep my perfectionism in check so I can enjoy the process.  I want it all together right now, but I know what can happen when perfectionism gets to be in charge.  Stress, pressure, then the crash.  Not saying I’d fall into a desperate depression right off the bat, but I know I’d start being a lot grumpier and negative when I should be joyful.  A person who is really vulnerable to repeated episodes could push themselves into depression because they underestimated their needs.

Ample adjustment time is like the newspaper around the dishes, the styrofoam protecting the computer monitor, the cardboard protectors on the table legs.  It’s the buffer between the roughness of the world and the precious stuff inside you.  Plan for it and use it when you have big family transitions.  Don’t count on family joy to be enough to get you through.

Even Happy Family Change Requires Adjustment Time

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Even Happy Family Change Requires Adjustment Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Sep 2009
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