Before the move, let the kids see the new home, either with pictures online or in person, so that they aren’t surprised by their new surroundings on the day of the move. Have them tell you what they like and dislike about the home as this may ease some anxiety about moving. Include the children in discussions about where things should go; even if you don’t take their advice, this will make them feel included.
During the move, let the children help you pack. This is a great time for “out with the old and in with the new.” Assign the kids a “job” so they feel included. This can be as easy as labeling boxes or packing their own toys.
Once you have moved, don’t start doing everything at once. Take the time to enjoy your new home. Introduce the kids and pets to the neighborhood and their new surroundings. Plant a tree or a flower when you move so that they understand this is your new home now.
Allow the kids some say in setting up their new bedrooms. This is their new space, so let them claim it. Some children have problems sleeping in their new bedroom. Take time to talk about what is similar and what is different in the new bedrooms. Pay attention to the things that are the same to give a sense of familiarity. Continuation of family routines is comforting and offers a sense of security.
Remember to “Make new friends but always keep the old.” Be active in helping your children make friends in the new area, but remind them they still have old friends. Set up play dates for younger children to get to know each other. Find activities for school-aged children, such as sports, clubs, lessons and classes. Take the initiative to meet the new neighbors. Encourage phone or email to keep in touch with the old friends.
Generally, the rule of thumb is that the younger the child, the easier it is for them to accept the move. Their family is the center of their lives. Answering questions and reassuring them that all of the important things will stay the same will help to ease their anxiety. Emotions that children may experience include:
- Excitement: Give them age-appropriate move tasks to sustain it.
- Curiosity: Share children’s books on moving to give them an idea of what to expect.
- Sadness: Help them say goodbye to the old house and reassure them they will stay in touch with important people.
- Anger: Monitor their expectations to help keep them in line with reality.
YOUNG TEENS AND TEENS
Some young teens and teens will be thrilled for the adventure of moving, and the new home will be met with delight. However, a move is often hardest on young adolescents and teenage children. At this age their friends are vitally important. A move for them means giving up friendships and having to make new ones. Also, since fitting in is a large concern, they worry about what other kids are like. Be sure to be aware of those concerns. Emotions that teens may experience include:
- Excitement: Give them responsible tasks and show your appreciation for their enthusiasm and help.
- Anxiety: Finding out about the new school, community, and teams or clubs will help.
- Sadness: Be understanding and patient.
- Anger: Give them space and time. Acknowledge their feelings and work to keep lines of communication open