There are many stressful things about a move, and having young children involved can only make it all the more complicated. However, just like packing lists, boxes and timelines can make your move less stressful, a little planning and preparation with your little ones can make it easier on your children, too.
We put together this guide to preparing kids for a big move (complete with advice from psychologists and counselors) so you can get from point A to point B as easily as possible.
Preparing Kids for a Big Move: 3 Tips
Many facets of parenthood require preparation. So believe it or not: moving does, too. Starting early and preparing your children in advance can ease the burden when the big day comes.
- Keep Them Informed: Leaving your kids in the dark about moving timelines, your new house, or other details about the move can make them more stressed overall. Share with them any relevant moving details as soon as you know them can help keep them calm and get them ready.
- Talk About Their Emotions: Children may experience a range of emotions during the moving process: fear, confusion, sadness, anger and excitement, to name a few. Encouraging them during the highs and supporting them through the lows can make them feel supported and heard during your move.
- Show Them What to Expect: Your moving day shouldn’t be the first time your little one sees your new home or neighborhood. Show them their new house and any fun landmarks in your new neighborhood like their new school, a park, a library or a restaurant. This can help make them excited about their new house.
How to Tell a Child Your Moving
Lead with positivity. Your child can sense your thoughts, feelings and attitudes. So if you remain calm, positive and excited about your move, that may rub off on them when they hear the news. Explain to them what moving means, but then explain the positives that are coming along with it: a new room to decorate, more space, a fun new neighborhood, etc.
If you’re moving close-by or have plans to visit home again, explain that your kids won’t be leaving their old friends and old house behind completely.
5 Tips for Moving with Kids
We’ve put together some must-know tips for preparing for and executing a move with your kids.
1. Maintain Your Routine
Every psychologist or counselor we interviewed for this article agreed: maintaining normalcy and your usual routine is hugely important during a move. So if your kid is used to car rides to school, after-school drawing time or even Taco Tuesday, do your best to maintain this for as long as you can.
Tip: During your routine in the weeks leading up to your move, start discussing what the routine will look like after you move. How will it change? What will stay the same?
2. Create Excitement About the Move
Making your kid feel happy and excited about the move can help reduce their negative feelings during the process. Show them how much fun moving can be, get them excited to see their new home and play games with them to show them that something scary like a move can actually be fun.
Tip: “ Involving your kids in the packing process, setting up their new room, or exploring the area together are all great ways of creating excitement about the move.” — Dr. Ketan Parmar
3. Take Care Of Yourself, Too
A burnt-out parent is only going to create more stress during the move. So while you might feel that you need to do as much as you can to make sure your family is taken care of while moving, child psychologist Dr. Christina Villarreal said it’s important to practice self-care as well and to ask for help when you need it.
Tip: Don’t always pack your down time with packing and planning. Take some time to practice emotional, physical and mental self care in the ways that benefit you the most.
4. Involve Your Child Where You Can
If you involve your child in every single decision, you might end up with a bright pink living room or a dinosaur-shaped dining room rug. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that your child can be involved in the move. Let them make decisions or help pack whenever you can.
Tip: Thriveworks suggests letting your little one decide how to paint, decorate and set up their own room — like where decorations or furniture will go, etc.
5. Make Your Kid’s Room Last Out, First In
Pack your kid’s room last and unpack it first. This can help them have a space where they feel comfortable and confident for the majority of the move while also giving them a place they can go while you take care of the rest of the moving tasks.
Tip: Parents.com suggests packing your kid’s sheets and essentials in a separate bag or suitcase so they don’t get lost while you’re unpacking. This will help you get your kids set up as quickly as possible.
How to Help Your Child Cope With Moving Anxiety
Moving anxiety may trigger tantrums, sadness or resignation from your kiddo. Quelling these feelings can help them remain positive and excited throughout your move.
Dr. Villarreal said providing stability and predictability can help comfort your child during the move. She said, "This can involve maintaining routines as much as possible, involving your child in the moving process, and providing opportunities for them to express their feelings and concerns. It's also important to be patient and understanding, and to offer reassurance and support throughout the transition."
What is the Best Age to Move with Kids?
According to Dr. Parmar, moves are harder on elementary school-aged kids than they are on teenagers. However each age group will react differently to a move. For example, younger kids might have a harder time understanding what is going on and may experience more anger or sadness. Older kids, however, might have a harder time making new friends or fitting in post-move.
What Are the Effects of Moving On Kids?
According to Dr. Parmar and Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, some physical and mental health effects of moving with kids may include:
- Disruption of social connections
However, Dr. Hartstein also noted that moving may have positive effects on kids, like opening them to new experiences, building their resilience and helping them grow.
How Long Does it Take a Child to Adjust After Moving?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it’ll take your little one to adjust to their new digs. However, kids who are better prepared may take less time to adjust, so preparing kids for a big move can go a long way.
Make Your Move As Easy As Possible
We’ll say it: moving sucks. And big changes can be hard for any family to cope with. However, you don’t have to make it harder on yourself than it needs to be when kids are involved. Communicating, planning and preparing for the big move with your kids can help make the experience more enjoyable for all of you.
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