Moving house is one of the most stressful things we can do as adults. But we often forget how difficult it is for kids too. They may not have to plan all that much and deal with the hassle of the physical move, but there is still confusion and physical and emotional upheaval. Here are some tips to help.
1) Talk About What Is Happening
The worst thing that we can do as parents is to keep kids out of the conversation because the move is too “grown-up” for them. Think of it this way. Remember what it was like as a kid to know that something strange was going on and how frustrating it was to be in the dark. The sooner they know about the family move and why it is happening, the easier it will be for them to adjust and deal with the situation. Have open conversations as best you can and let them express concerns and ask questions.
2) Give It Time
The sooner you can have this conversation about moving, the better. No good will come from springing it on them with a couple of weeks to spare unless it is a sudden upheaval for work. They need time to go through the process of accepting that they will be leaving their home before they can walk out that door. Let’s them be upset and angry for a bit if they need to. It helps to see the loss of a house the same way as any other bereavement. It is more than just bricks and mortar after all.
3) Prepare For the Continuation of Friendships
A big fear that kids will have been that a massive door will close on their life, and they will lose people they love. This doesn’t have to be the case with Facetime, Portal, online gaming, and other systems. Always recommend you monitor your kids’ online activities in the new internet age.
Another great idea is to get them stationary and an address book for a pen pal scheme. It may be old-fashioned, but it is also a great way for kids to say as much as they want and get creative. Also, throw a going-away party where cousins can plan their summer vacations and friends can plan weekends together in the future.
4) Take A Trip to The New Home in Advance
Just as scary as leaving the home they love is the idea of starting life in one they have never seen before. A road trip of discovery before a family move is a great idea. Visit the house, take a tour of the neighborhood, and find out why this new place is so cool. Figure out where they can go and carry out their favorite activities and live life as normal. Remind them that every town has a lot of similarities and all the same brands, and it won’t be hard to pick up where they left off.
5) Go And Visit the New School
Granted, this one is less fun for a child, but it will help a lot. We can sometimes forget that the school is their new safe place away from the new home. They will spend so much time here. A tour lets them familiarize themselves with their learning environment and meet their new teacher. This means some guaranteed friendly faces after the move and more trusted adults to turn to. You can also learn about the extracurricular opportunities there are to look forward to.
6) Establish Connections with People in the New City
This one all depends on who you already know in the area. If you are conducting a family move for work, it might be a good idea to schedule a play date alongside a social meeting to discuss the new job. Your kids may make some new friends that they will enjoy reconnecting with once the move is complete. Even a few online interactions can help.
7) Let Them Plan Their Room
This is a great way to keep kids’ minds off the negatives of a big move. Their current bedroom is their sanctuary right now and you are taking that away from them. But you can also give them the grown-up task of planning their new room – from the colors of the walls to the furniture and other details. This isn’t just a positive distraction. It is also a way to enhance the idea of bringing kids into the conversation about the move.
8) Pack Their Bedroom Last and Unpack It First
Packing up a child’s room last in a family move means they don’t have so long to sit with everything boxed up and just waiting to go. It is a weird limbo situation where they don’t quite have a place to call home. Shorten that timeframe as best you can. Then, ignore the temptation to focus on the kitchen or living area first at the other end. The best thing to do is set up everything they need to feel comfortable and safe for the night. Then just get takeout and eat with disposable knives and forks for a night.
9) Don’t Rush Them to Settle In
Finally, just because you were able to set up their room first doesn’t mean that they will be settled any quicker. They are going to feel disoriented when they wake up and the room is different. They will hear weird noises and lose their way to the bathroom. It is going to feel weird and sad for a while and that’s OK. Feel that as a family and be sad about the losses and plan for good days ahead. It all goes back to that first point of involving them in the conversation.
There is a common theme here for any parent that wants to make a family move easier for a child. The more you involve them and engage with them about it all, the better it is for everyone. Have the difficult conversations, let them ask questions, and make plans together. Help them turn this stressful situation into something as positive as possible where they can hopefully create some good memories.
We hope you found this blog post: 9 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for A Long-Distance Move useful. For additional tips and advice, check out also: 8 Tips on Helping your Kids Adjust after Moving blog post article. Additionally, we put together this newsletter to share with your friends and family.