Moving with Children – Ease the Transition
Moving with children can be particularly stressful and time-consuming; however, there are ways to make the move a smooth transition for parents and children alike. Having been a part of a move as a child myself, I’m happy to be able to share what needs to be done before the move, after the move, and during the move to make it a positive experience for the little ones in your life.
Things to think about before moving with children.
Discuss the move with your kids. This move will change their lives and they will probably have questions about where, why, and how. Try to give your kids as much information about the move as possible. When answering questions, be truthful and be responsive to their feelings about the move whether they are negative or positive. Letting kids know what to expect makes them feel like they had some say in the decision-making process.
Research the local daycares and school districts.
This is extremely important when moving with children. You don’t want to move to a new location just to find out that the county offers no affordable or reliable places for your children to learn. Make sure you talk to other local parents and get their recommendations as well as doing some research on the elementary, middle, and high schools in the area. Take your children for a visit and walk through of their new campuses so they don’t feel so blind-sided on the first day of school.
Buy or rent your house accordingly.
We all want our kids to feel comfortable and safe. Making them aware of where they will be staying after the move is the first step. I remember moving as a middle schooler myself and one of the best decisions my mom made was to let me see the house we were moving into and which room would be mine. This made the move a little less foreign and it showed that the decision to move was made with me in mind!
Look at things to do in the area with children in mind.
Looking at the surrounding area of your new home and finding fun things your kids could be involved in could make the transition easier. Local parks, child-friendly activities, and other hobbies the children enjoy could get them in a mindset to be delighted about the upcoming changes. This way they have something to look forward to, but don’t set it up as a reward but merely a perk that the move comes with. For instance, mentioning that a park is right around the corner from the house and within walking distance could be the little upcoming perk that the child would look forward to.
Moving with children – during the move.
Let the kids help out.
A good way to take the frightening aspect out of moving to a new location is to let the children be a part of the actual moving process. You can make the packing process a little more fun and exciting by giving your child a box or two to pack away their favorite things. Help them label and decorate the box with crayons in order to help the box stand out when you get to the new location. Having those bedroom items close when you first arrive at a new place will give the child a sense of familiarity and could make the child feel more at home.
Don’t let the children get bored.
Kids usually have a lot of energy and usually, they need something to occupy their mind and time when their parents are dealing with different aspects of a move. One way of doing this is to decide which rooms need to be moved first. For instance, if the living room and the child’s bedroom must be moved maybe keep the playroom intact till the end of the move, that way the children have activities and things they can do while the parents are occupied. If you are unable to keep the room intact, then put board games, coloring books, and other activities aside to help keep them busy during downtime.
Electronics are your friend. Usually, we may not want our kids planted in front of a screen for long periods of time, but on moving day, this isn’t likely the case. Tablets, iPods, and portable DVD players can be very beneficial with kids (especially younger ones) during your move. Not only does this keep them occupied but it gives them something to do during the trip to your new destination. Also, a favorite movie or song could create a sense of peace for them that they might appreciate during such a life-changing event.
Let children pack the things they want during the transition.
This is different then letting them simply pack a box. First, supply them with a tote bag of their choice. This will be the bag they keep with them throughout the move and drive. Let them pick out 5 or 10 small items that they would like to keep close to them while everything else is packed up. Maybe this is their favorite stuffed animal or toy. Maybe this is a prized possession that is important to them. Either way, having their own things close by will create a sense of security while other things aren’t as easily accessible.
After moving with children.
Give them a big decision.
Once you make your way into your house and get familiarized, let the child pick the color they would like to paint their room. The independence of such a big decision could add to the excitement of living in a new location. If age permits it, your kids could even help with the painting process, which gives them a sense of accomplishment and also leaves space for some child/parent bonding moments.
Explore the area in between unpacking.
Now that you have gotten the children excited about “the park around the corner”, this is the perfect time to explore the neighborhood! Whether it’s discovering a new pizza place or ice cream shop or coming across a great mini golf course, exploring these places as a family can make for new traditions and could quickly become a staple for future family outings. Local fun places like these, that you discover together, could make the transition easier and actually make experiencing new places exciting instead of frightening.
Get to know the neighbors.
A lot of the time, moving with children is most traumatic when they think about everything they are leaving behind. While important people and things cannot be replaced it is a good idea to introduce yourself and the kids to people around the neighborhood quickly. Kids often need an opening in order to make new friends and finding a neighbor who has a child similar in age could make all the difference. On the other hand, it’s also a good idea for children to become familiar with grown-ups around the neighborhood that they can trust.
Keep things familiar.
A move brings a lot of change to a kid’s dynamic and can cause a lot of tension, anxiety, and fear. One thing that doesn’t have to change is your original routine. Keep eating your family meals as usual and schedule family movie nights for the same night you used in your old location. You can also keep things familiar in the child’s bedroom, like furniture, bedding, and wall decorations. Being surrounded by recognizable things helps to put a child at ease during a big move. If they want to have a new bed or want to redecorate be open to those options and opinions but don’t just assume that they will not have some attachment to belongings they possessed in their old room. Let the child decide if they want to change up their everyday surroundings on their own time.
Just give those lil’ ones some time!
Moving is never an easy process – not for grown-ups – but more so not for children. Don’t let your kids feel uprooted with no say and don’t assume that everything is okay because your child acts excited. Most experts report that it takes at least six months for children to acclimate to their new surroundings and life. Hopefully, these tips and tools can make the moving with children easier and more positive for all involved.