Moving involves a lot of change for everyone in the household, and it can be a stressful process no matter your age. While, as a parent, you may be worried about packing, scheduling movers, and setting up utilities, children can have concerns of their own.
- Will I like my new house and my new school?
- Will there be other kids around like me?
- Will all of my stuff be in my new home after we move?
- Will I ever see my friends again?
While taking care of yourself should be a priority, we parents know that our kids have to come first. If you’re preparing to move with your children, use these tips below to help remove some of the stress for both of you so that you can look forward to good times in your new home.
1. Talk to your child about the move in advance.
No one likes to be blindsided, kids or adults. Sit down in a comfortable place and talk with them about moving to a new home well ahead of time so that they have some time to start wrapping their head around it. If your child is a toddler, you may need to use a story or pictures to illustrate how the move will go, since this will likely be a new concept for them.
It can be helpful to explain the following to your child in a slow, calm way:
- How their daily routine is going to be the same and how it will be different
- Reassuring them that all their stuff will be in your new home once you unpack everything from the boxes
- Anything fun or exciting about your new home or new town that your child can have to look forward to
2. Visit the new community with your child before the move.
Time and money permitting, it’s always best to introduce your child to your new home ahead of time. This not only builds up their familiarity with it but can also ramp up their excitement about this significant life change.
Have some fun taking your child on a little motor tour of their school and the fun places around town that they’ll enjoy, like local parks, pools, malls, arcades, and more. While you’re out, this will also give you a chance to scope out a little fun for yourself—as well as the nearest coffee shop.
3. Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible.
This is a tough one when there’s packing to do, but that sense of normalcy really helps everyone feel better. Try to keep to your usual morning and evening routines and normal mealtimes. You can simplify dinner prep and meal cleanup close to your move by buying frozen family size dinners, making one-pot meals, and using disposable plates, cups and silverware.
4. Be prepared for some backlash; empathy is your best friend.
Change isn’t easy for anyone. As an adult, you have the benefit of many years of life experience, so you can put something like a move into perspective. For kids, even older teenagers, moving can be a big deal—maybe the biggest change they’ve had to experience yet.
Most kids don’t possess the emotional maturity to handle major life changes gracefully, especially if they feel like the change is unfair to them and that they have no say and no control. Ironically, you may experience more tears and acting out from older school age kids and teenagers than toddlers. Even if what they say comes across as hurtful or ungrateful, count to 10, and remind yourself what they’re going through.
When you’re feeling hurt or frustrated, remember:
- Your child may be sad and worried about losing friends and scared about being happy and accepted in their new town.
- They may need time and space to accept this life change.
- They might need your help to say goodbye and stay connected to the people they’ve formed relationships with.
We’ve all had to say goodbye to people we care about, and when you dig deep, you can empathize with your child and explain to them (kindly) that you understand how that feels and that you will do what you can to help them.
5. Involve your child with small aspects of the move.
Everyone feels better when they have some kind of control over what’s happening in their lives. Depending on your child’s age, you can involve them in different ways that help them feel more like part of the move and less helpless.
- Toddlers may like to choose what outfit they wear on moving day and what toy they bring in the car with them.
- Older kids may like sorting their belongings into categories like what to keep, what to give away to friends and family, what to donate to charity, and what to throw out.
- Tweens and teens might like the opportunity to arrange their new room how they like, so involving them in that can help your new house feel more like home to them.