When we’re busy moving, overwhelmed with boxes and the details of setting up a new home, it’s hard to find time with our children. Even if the move or relocation is for a positive reason, the transition to a new house and to a new school can be stressful for a child. Try these tips to make the process less stressful for everyone!
Before the Move
Try to give them as much information about the move as soon as possible. Answer questions completely and truthfully, while being receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Even if the move means an improvement in family life, kids don’t always understand that and may be focused on the frightening aspects of the change. Involve the kids as much as possible, make them feel like participants in the house-hunting process. This can make the change feel less like it’s being forced on them. If possible, try to take your kids to their new school and explore their new neighborhood ahead of time. Try and time the move to happen before the start of a new school year or term so children have an opportunity to meet new friends before school begins.
Moving With Toddlers and Preschoolers
Kids younger than 6 have a limited capacity to understand the changes involved in moving which can be a positive and a negative during this transition. Try holding off on getting rid of your child’s old bedroom furniture, which may provide a sense of comfort in the new house. For example, avoid advancing a toddler to a bed from a crib during this change. It might even be a good idea to arrange furniture in a similar way in the new bedroom.
Moving With Teens
It’s common for teens to actively rebel against a move. Your teen has probably invested considerable energy in a particular social group and might be involved in a romantic relationship. A move may mean that your teen will miss a long-awaited event, like a prom. It’s particularly important to let teens know that you want to hear their concerns and that you respect them. After the move, consider planning a visit back to the old neighborhood, if it’s feasible. Also, see if if the teen can return for events like prom or homecoming.
After Moving Day
After the move, try to get your child’s room in order before turning your attention to the rest of the house. Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give kids a sense of familiarity. Set realistic expectations about the transition. Generally, teachers expect new kids to feel somewhat comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Some kids need less time; others might need more. Encourage your child or teen to keep up with old friends through phone calls, video chats, and other ways to stay connected. While keeping in touch with old friends, give your children lots of opportunities to meet new friends. This might be the time to let you kid sign up for all the activities they have been wanting to do.
If you’re still concerned about your child’s transition, a family therapist might provide some helpful guidance. A move can present many challenges, but good things also come from this kind of change. Your family might grow closer and you may learn more about each other by going through it together.
Books to Share with Your Kids Before the Big Move
Big Ernie’s New Home, By Teresa and Whitney Martin
When Big Ernie the cat moves to Santa Fe, he misses the familiar comforts of home and learns that everyone needs time to adapt to a new place.
Age 6 and Up
Where I Live, By Eileen Spinelli
You and your kid can relate to the ups and downs of this story in verse.