The decision to move is unarguably a big event! There are so many things to consider, and regardless of the reasoning, the anticipation of such a big change can be a source of stress. With all of the details to keep track of, it is sometimes easy to overlook how this big change can impact the kids in the family. They are facing the possibility of changing schools, friends and familiarity of their everyday routine, and venturing into the unknown. Although, moving with your kids will inevitably be challenging, the below steps might aid in increasing the chances of a smoother transition.
Experts agree that one of the very first steps is to inform your kids of the change as soon as you know it’s happening. When you share the news, organize a family meeting but focus on keeping things casual. For example, you can plan a family pizza night and discuss the changes over dinner. Or take a family hike over the weekend to keep things light and informal. Whatever you decide, focus on giving your kids a safe place to react to the news and express themselves freely. For this reason, public spaces with lots of people might not be the best option. After the news has been shared, offer ways for the kids to participate in the moving process. It will generate excitement and anticipation for them if they feel like they can be involved. Provide as much information as you can, suggest they create a wish list, and find ways to include them in the home search. They might even enjoy coming along to some of the showings so that they can share their input! In this phase, kids might still be adjusting to the news, so sticking to normal routines is extremely helpful in making them feel secure in this time of change.
After the initial steps have been finalized there are ways to help kids transition when it comes to planning and packing for the move. Once the house or neighborhood has been finalized, if possible, take a day trip and act as a tourist in your new area. Visit all the best routes to the movie theater or the mall and set up a tour of the new school that they will be attending. The more information you can provide of what to expect, the better it will be for them to process the change and adjust. If they know what their new room will look like, visit the hardware store and check-out some options for new paint colors. Older kids might enjoy mapping out their new space and diagramming where they would like their bedroom furniture to be placed. When it comes to packing, offer the option of creating a treasure box, where they can put all of their most favorite items. On moving day, they can bring this treasure box with them in the car to help them feel more secure.
Although it may be challenging, discuss the concept of purging certain items before beginning to pack. Involve them in the decision of getting rid of certain items or toys so that there are no surprises. Emphasize that things are not being thrown-away; just transported to another home where other boys and girls can enjoy them. Lastly, it is a great idea to have a, ‘see you soon’ party, where all friends and close neighbors can attend. Experts advise against labeling it as a ‘goodbye’ party, as this may seem too final for kids. You can make the event light and fun by having guests sign a memory book and discussing when you will be back to visit them.
Once the move has occurred, there are ways you can help your kids transition to their new environment as well. Remaining upbeat and positive is a great way to generate excitement about new friendships and possibilities. You can plan a welcome party or get involved in the community. If you have moved over summer, enroll your kids in summer programs so that they have the opportunity to get a head start on meeting friends before the school year begins. Above all, remember that patience is key as your kids are dealing with a lot of new experiences and emotions might be running high those first several weeks or even months. Moving is a big change and a challenge not just for your kids but for you as well! Hopefully the above suggestions help to ease some stress, and your new home becomes a place for many wonderful memories for the years to come!