Moving is a notoriously stressful process that’s hard for both you and the whole family. It’s easy to get swept up in the planning, packing, and other details involved in a move, but if you have children, chances are they might be stressed out, too. It’s important to do what you can to make moving easy for the kids, and if you follow this quick guide, you can ease any anxiety and even help them get excited along the way.
Be a Good Listener
Don’t put off telling your children about the move. It’s tempting to think you’re protecting them from the news, and we know it comes from a good place, but tell them as soon as possible and be ready for all the questions under the sun.
When they absorb the news, make sure you listen to their concerns. Give your kid some time to process his or her feelings, and understand there may be some anger along with their frustration. This is a great point to begin reassuring your kid that yes, despite the big change, moving can actually be fun!
Try these active listening skills to really understand your child:
- Look directly at your child when they are speaking to you.
- Don’t allow other things going on to distract you.
- Lean toward your child when he or she is speaking.
- Listen with the intent to understand, not just to reply.
- Take a moment to reflect on what your child has said.
- Avoid jumping to conclusions or passing judgment.
Is your kid experiencing some hard emotions as he or she processes the upcoming move? Try to reframe problems they perceive as adventures. Encourage them to reimagine a new school and new friends as a brand-new start. Emphasize the positives about your new area. Will your child finally have a new room to herself? Will your new home be located near a park or movie theater?
Excitement is contagious! When your kids see your enthusiasm, they’ll get a bit more comfortable with the idea. Don’t oversell and over-promise. Remain optimistic and relaxed. Remember — this is a process, so don’t get frustrated if it takes a while for your kids to get on board.
Give Them a Voice and a Job
One great way to get your child invested in the move is to let them do their own packing. Give them a box and tell them to sort their things according to what goes together. Then give them another box for things they want to donate, and explain how another less fortunate child somewhere else might really appreciate it. Children will enjoy having control over their things and will likely find the process rewarding.
At the new place, let them make some decisions, or you can make them together, whether it’s where to put the furniture or what color to paint the walls. Older kids could help you navigate on the way to your new place, too.
The most important thing is to make this journey exciting and inclusive. Any way they can help and be involved, they’ll feel better for it.
Keep Schedules the Same Leading Up to the Move
Regardless of all the things that need to be done, make a concerted effort to keep mealtimes, bedtimes, and other regularly scheduled activities on the same routine as always. This helps lower stress levels and provides a sense of normalcy.
Family moments are also a good opportunity to discuss the move. Paint a picture of the new neighborhood and give your children the opportunity to fill in the blanks.
Keep Up with Old Acquaintances
It’s hard for anyone to leave lifelong friends, not just adults. These days, keeping in touch is as easy as sending a message on social media. Make sure your kids are connected with their friends, and if they don’t have social media accounts, help them collect Skype or email addresses. If you're embarking on a local move, plan frequent playdates or sleepovers. Also, if they see you staying connected with your friends, they’ll feel encouraged that they, too, can keep in touch with theirs!
If you’re moving locally, trade contact information with their friends’ parents to arrange weekend play dates. Arrange for your kids to attend a summer camp together or keep up with other activities after school or on the weekend. This could be joining the same youth soccer league, girl scout troop, or even a baseball team.
They’re Going to Do Great
During this stressful time, remind yourself as well as your child that moving is a normal part of life and often leads to new adventures and better opportunities. Remember to stay positive, listen intently, involve your children as much as possible, and know your kids are going to do great. The adventure awaits — for you both!