Moving With Kids
Moving can be a very exciting time, but for your kids, it can also be really scary. It may take them some time to process leaving their friends, their school, and their home behind. Even after the move, they may still struggle to adjust to their new home. While every child is different, there are some great general tips to help approach the topic of moving with your children before, during, and after the move. Regardless of which tips you follow, the most important thing is that you maintain open communication with your children and allow them to acknowledge the way they feel about this big life transition.
Before the Move
Talk to them about where you will be moving to and what they can expect during the move. Give them as much information as you can. Allow your kids to ask questions and express their concerns. Stay positive, but respond to their questions and concerns honestly. Purchase a few books about moving to help explain the process from other points of view.
Encourage open communication throughout the whole process. They may not be ready to bring their concerns to you, so give them ample opportunities to share how they are feeling. Check-in with them often to see how they are doing. Ask them what you can do to make the transition easier.
Keep moving as a daily topic in your household. When talking about the move, focus on the good parts. Even if you are stressed or sad about the move, try to keep things positive around your children. Kids look for cues on how to feel about things from their parents, and if you are upset, they will be too. But, if you’re excited, they’re more likely to adopt those feelings too.
Do some research on your new home to get your kids excited about the move. Get together and look up new restaurants to try, pictures of their new school, and other fun places in the area. Pick out a restaurant to go to on your first day in your new home to get them excited and keep them involved.
Often, the idea of a move can make children nervous, as they feel a loss of control. They didn’t choose to move homes, nor did they choose where you are headed. To make them feel more in control, allow them to make small choices like the paint color of their new bedroom or picking out new decorations. These little details will make them feel like they have more say in the move overall and may help ease anxieties about it.
No matter how crazy the process of packing and moving gets, it’s crucial to maintain a consistent schedule. Your children, especially if they are young, thrive on routine. Keep mealtimes and bedtimes the same and try not to shift from this.
During the Move
Create a moving day plan that everyone can refer to on the day of. This will keep you organized on the day of the move and will help provide structure. Share this plan with your children the day before the move to give them an idea of what they can expect.
Give your kids a special role during moving day to keep them occupied and make them part of the move. It could be something as simple as making sure everyone has water bottles or checking rooms once they are empty to make sure they are “approved.”
Keep important toys and other items of comfort in a separate tote bag that you can bring in the car. Since all other items will be packed away, this will give your child a sense of security during the drive to your new home.
Pack a travel bag of things to keep them occupied during the travel to your new home. Depending on how far away your new home is, it may be a long trip. Bring things like an iPad, coloring book, dolls/action figures, play-doh, and other time-consuming items to keep your child occupied. Make sure to also pack plenty of snacks and drinks.
To get your children excited about their new home, have a gift waiting for them there. If you are unable to be there ahead of time. Pack the gift separately and place it somewhere in the house when they get there. The knowledge that there is a gift waiting for them will make your child excited to get to the new place.
After the Move
Fill your new home with familiar objects as soon as possible. Start with your child’s room first to make sure they feel settled into their new space. If you can, bring their old furniture with you to your new home so they can transition with furniture that feels familiar. Set everything up similarly to how it was in the old house to make the transition easier. You can always move things around later once they are all settled in.
Explore your new neighborhood. If you have older kids, put them in charge of finding the best place in town to grab dinner. Once you feel more settled in, take the time to get to know your neighbors. See if there are any neighborhood kids around the same age as yours.
Look into extracurricular activities that you can sign your child up for. Activities are the fastest way for them to get back on a schedule. Depending on what season you move during, it may help them establish friendships before heading to their new school.
If you move during the school year, see if you can bring your kids in to meet their teachers and principal before their official start date. Take them around to make sure they know where their classes are and what their teachers look like.
The process of moving will be very stressful for your child. Try to avoid making any big changes within the first few months of being in your new home. This includes things like potty training or transitioning out of a crib to a bed. This may be too much change at once and will be very overwhelming for your child.
Most importantly, understand that it takes time to acclimate to a new environment. Allow for adjustments and be patient with tantrums, tears, and changes in mood. If this changed behavior lasts more than 3 months, you may want to contact your child’s pediatrician. You may also notice a change in appetite and sleep in your child. This is completely normal and should pass with time as they become more used to the new place.