Whether moving across town or across the country, leaving one community for another is difficult at best for adults and can sometimes be almost devastating to children. Moving with children can make relocation extra stressful, but it can also add value to the adventure factor involved with moving as you help them conquer the obstacles of change.
Preparing children for a move automatically makes the task more thoughtful for the adults. In the course of preparing for the large change that is involved with moving to a new home and putting a positive spin on the situation, parents may find that the move goes more smoothly and feels exciting instead of stressful.
By doing some research about the new neighborhood you're moving to, planning for ways to connect with the new community, and considering how you will help your children maintain their connections to their present relationships, you can make the adjustment to a new home go more smoothly for the whole family.
Talking with Your Children About the Move
The first step for preparing your kids for relocation is to discuss the plans to move with them. Give them as much information as you can about the decision to move and listen to their questions and concerns in an open and accepting manner. Even a move that will improve the family's quality of life may not be met with a positive reaction from a child. Change is difficult for everyone, even if it is a positive change, and in the initial discussion the parent needs to be supportive and respectful of their child's feelings.
One of the best ways to get kids on board with moving is to allow them to be involved with as many decisions as is practical. House hunting, selecting their room, researching fun things to do in the new neighborhood or picking out rug or paint colors will help them get involved. Being part of a team feels empowering and exciting, being included gives kids a sense of control and confidence.
For local or short-distance moves, take the kids to visit the new house and listen to their ideas for things they might like to change or improve, explore the neighborhood surrounding the home. If you are moving a longer distance, try to obtain as many photos as possible of the new home and the neighborhood, go on the internet and find exciting new things and also familiar things that are nearby. In both instances try to locate favorite activities to do with your children such as museums, theaters, parks, sports or youth group activities.
Obviously, a teenager will have a different set of concerns and challenges when faced with a move than a toddler will. Knowing what some of the typical needs for support are during a relocation can help you best support your child.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Younger children are usually the most willing age group to accept moving to a new home. As with any new transition, they may experience some difficulty, but usually due to the upheaval of packing and relocating the house and the disruption of their schedule. There are several things a parent can do to reduce the stress of moving for their small child, as well as themselves.
• a simple explanation of the move • Keep favorite toys unpacked and available • When packing the child's belongings be sure they understand you are bringing them along. • consider buying children’s books that talk about moving • visit the new home if it is nearby • Do not begin toilet training or transitioning from crib to toddler bed during move • Purchase a toy moving truck and furniture 2 offer pretend moving experience • try to take at least some of the child old bedroom furniture in the move, and upgrade later • Hire a sitter for moving day when you will be too busy to give the extra support your child may need.
Elementary and Tweens
This age group usually has a relatively easy time adapting to a move. They will still face some challenges. they will be concerned about being the new kid and making new friends. They will also feel the sense of loss and leaving the friendships they have built in their present home.
School-age children will need a parent’s support in making this transition. There are many things you can do to make it go more smoothly for your child. These things differ depending upon the time of year you are moving. A summer move poses different challenges then a move that is made in the middle of the school year.
A summer move can mean many weeks with little opportunity to meet other children in their peer group, while moving at midterm means that they are immediately thrust into a new school environment as well as a new neighborhood. Both scenarios have their own challenges, and it is often difficult to determine which is the hardest to handle, the level of difficulty will vary in individual children.
The things you can do to ease the transition into a new community for a school-age child should allow for them to meet potential new friends. • Talk with them about how to strike up a conversation • Discuss handling different social situations they may encounter • Get out to meet the neighbors • Have a housewarming party-- rent a bounce house for the kids offer snacks and drinks for the adults • Enroll your child in activities that he enjoys • Spend extra time with them exploring Community amenities • Be sure you have all documentation required for school enrollment ready • Allow them to decorate their new room in their own style • Find an information resource for local age appropriate activities
Moving with Teens, Handle with Care
Teenagers are the age group that usually suffer most in the face of moving to a new location. Most of them have strong bonds to their friends and activities, and they are often facing additional losses like missing the homecoming game or prom. The problem is compounded if they are involved in a romantic relationship. These are young people are not yet adults, but their feelings and emotions are real and valid, and there are several considerations to make when the family is relocating.
Be prepared for your teenager to be very unhappy about the prospect of moving, listen to them and let them know that you respect them and their feelings. Really hear what they are saying and avoid appearing dismissive by constantly interjecting with reassurances.
If it is feasible there are several options to consider that could be consider for assisting your teenager in accepting the move. If possible, they should be allowed to return for important events. Schedule visits to the old neighborhood, or if you have an older teenager figure out if it is possible to allow them to stay with a friend or a relative.
If there are no acceptable options for visiting or staying, you can encourage and assist your teenager to keep in touch by way of phone and parent approved social media.
You should discuss with your teen that they are entering a phase of life where most people experience major changes such as relocation for college or employment, and that they will be better prepared to handle these things because they will have already experienced a difficult move.
Home Sweet Home
Set up the bedrooms first when you move in. Try to stay with your normal family routine in regard to bedtimes, meals and family activities. Daily rituals offer a sense of continuity and comfort to your children and reduce stress for yourself. Take breaks from unpacking and explorer your new community, take the kids for a casual shopping trip and let them pick out a new item for the room or other parts of the house.
Visit the school your child will be attending and introduce them to the principal and their teacher. Set aside time in the evening to give your child the opportunity to talk about his day, and any difficulties or concerns he may have. Focus on the positive events that he discusses with you and build on those. Remember to allow them time to communicate with their friends by way of phone calls or social media to help them ease the initial loneliness of being the new kid in school.
Teachers say on average most students will have fully adapted to their new school in about 6 weeks. If your child is taking longer and you were concerned about the transition, you may consider going to visit with a family therapist for support in assisting your child with her adjustment.
Moving poses many challenges to a family, being prepared for those challenges especially with children, can bring everyone closer together and make moving a family adventure. Take many pictures during the move to look back on in the years to come and remember the good and the bad times. These memories will help everyone recognize the growth that came from facing challenges together.