Moving can be a stressful time for families, and it can be especially so for children. Julianne Idelman, author of the Hand In Hand Parenting blog offers these tips to help you prepare your kids for what can be a major life transition.
- Share your own feelings about moving to set an open and positive tone for the experience. While you don't have to go into great detail about any feelings of nervousness or stress you may be experiencing, letting your children know that these are normal reactions to changing homes (and potentially schools) can help them cope. Additionally, talk about the excitement of having a new home; how fun it will be to decorate their rooms and plans for the future in your new location.
- Spend extra time with your kids before and after the move. Moving and all of the related tasks can take up a lot of time, and kids can begin to feel neglected or frustrated due to the amount of time needed to accomplish them. Try to schedule a few special breaks leading up to moving day such as a park picnic or an outing to pick out supplies for decorating your child's new room. The same goes for after the move, take a break from all of the unpacking to explore your new neighborhood and help get your children comfortable in their new environment.
- Organize a positive introduction. If possible, before you move, take your children to visit your new home, their new daycare or school, the local playground, the neighborhood grocery store, and other places close by to where you will be living. If you belong to a church, ask if the pastor or another member of the congregation can introduce you to another family with children of the same age.
- Create special moving boxes. It's important for children to feel involved in the moving process, not something that is happening to them. Having your children create packing boxes that they can use to carry their own special items is one way to do this. Give each child a packing box to decorate that they can carry by themselves. Then have them pack their favorite items in it such as toys, a blanket or pillow, a picture of their family, or drawings of the new house. Then, on moving day have each child carry their boxes out of the old house and into the new one.
- Help them say “good-bye.” Leaving people and places behind is a natural part of life, but it can take its toll on adults and kids alike. Let them know that you think it's OK to feel sad about moving, that grownups sometimes feel sad about moving too, and that you are there to listen. If they are saying good bye to friends, encourage them to draw a picture or write a note to each one to help express their feelings. Remind them that with all of the technologies available today they can still “see” their friends through Facebook, Facetime, Skype or other video conferencing platforms and keep in touch via email and texts (with a parent's help depending on their ages).
Moving homes is exciting, but it can also be anxiety-producing. Try the tips above to help your children make a smooth and positive transition to their new home. Happy moving!