Moving isn’t just about relocating to a new location or managing countless logistical challenges. Uprooting your family and moving to a new house or a new city packs its own boxes of emotional upheaval, and for children (and sometimes parents), those emotions can get lost or overlooked along the way.
Moving is never easy for anyone…plus, you may be dealing with your own anxiety and emotions over, especially if it’s a forced relocation due to a job transfer or layoff. Here are 10 tips to help you and your kids survive the move and ease your family’s transition into your new surroundings.
Have a Prep Talk — Properly preparing your kids for the move can help alleviate some of their anxiety and stress and have a big impact on how they adapt to the new home. For toddlers and preschoolers, begin talking about your move a month in advance. For older kids, you may want to consider including them in the early stages of the decision and planning process. For all children, don’t just talk about what will be different with the move, be sure to focus on the things that will stay the same. A young child may need to be reassured that his favorite toy and his bed will be making the move, too.
Ask for Help — If a family member or friend offers to keep the kids for a day so you can pack boxes, take them up on it. Not only will you get a lot more done without your little ones begging for your attention, but having the kids away from the house while you’re packing their belongings may help prevent an emotional breakdown upon seeing their favorite toys land in boxes.
Give Them Something to Do — Allowing your child to take some ownership in the process can help them deal with their emotions. Older children should be able to handle boxing up their belongings, so give them a few boxes and let your child have a go at packing up his or her room. (You’ll probably want to inspect the boxes prior to taping them shut.) Even small children may enjoy the opportunity to pack their own box. When you get to your new place, let your children help arrange their room. You may even want to let them choose a new paint color or have a say in picking out new furniture.
Purge Before Packing — This is a helpful tip for anyone moving — kids or no kids. No need to take everything with you. Cut through the clutter before you move. Have your kids help you go room to room in the house and identify what should go with you and what to get rid of. Items that are no longer used — toys, clothes, electronics, etc. — should be added to a “sell” or “toss” pile. Have the kids help you plan a moving sale and let them earn a little cash for their help. Most children will be happy to help and more invested in the sale if there’s something in it for them.
Research Your New Place — If you’re relocating to a new town, take some time to learn as much as you can about the neighborhood and community and share your findings with your kids. Just be sure not to oversell to raise their expectations. Be honest with the information you share. Encourage your older kids to do their own research and try to find a new activity or place they’d like to explore after you move. It’s also essential to take your children to visit the new place before you move, if at all possible. Spend at least a day touring the new home, walking the neighborhood and exploring the town. Allowing your children to lay eyes on their soon-to-be new home and surroundings prior to the move can help ease their angst and increase their excitement.
Pack with Purpose — Label everything. Clearly mark all boxes not only with what’s in them, but in what room they belong in the new house. This will help keep you organized and reduce the stress that comes with unpacking. To help prevent any frantic searches for your child’s most prized possessions, allow your child to keep those items close on moving day. Consider purchasing a special tote specifically for moving day that can be used to keep special toys, books, snacks and comfort items by your child’s side during the move.
Stick to a Schedule — One of the keys to easing your child’s transition is to keep as much as you can the same. While your surroundings may change, maintain rituals like eating family meals together or game nights to create consistency that is reassuring to kids. For infants and toddlers, stick to the same bedtime routine and as much as possible, be sure the child’s bed and bedding stay the same. Pack a special box with your little one’s bedtime essentials like books, stuffed animals and bedsheets and be sure it’s clearly marked so you’re able to pull it out on night one in your new home.
Make Room for Their Emotions — Keep in mind that tantrums and bouts of tears may are a normal response to a big change for a child, such as moving. These emotions can be even bigger if the relocation is taking them away from friends, loved ones and caregivers, like grandparents and favorite babysitters. Allow your children to express their feelings about the transition and know that it’s normal for these emotions to last weeks or even months. Modern technology can help alleviate some of the pain. Schedule regular video chats with friends and loved ones left behind to help your child understand that those relationships don’t have to be over now, they’re just different.
Expect Regression — Temporary regression in behaviors — such as a potty-trained child suddenly having accidents; appetite changes, sleep disruption or an increase in temper tantrums — is completely common when children are dealing with change or stress. Don’t punish your child for these regressions, just go with the flow and keep your cool. If the changes last more than a couple of months, or interfere with daily activities, talk to your child’s pediatrician.
Get to Know Your New Surroundings — You may be neck-deep in unpacking boxes, setting up utilities, and transitioning to a new job but be sure to take time for you and your children to get to know your new surroundings and new neighbors. Provide ample opportunities for your kids to make new friends. This may mean signing them up for multiple activities they’re interested in and letting them try new experiences. Get plugged in at a local community center or church. Volunteer to be a room parent at your child’s new school and take an extra five minutes to chat with other parents at school pick-up and drop-off. Making new friends right off the bat can help ease the transition for you and your children.
Handling a move with kids isn’t impossible, it just requires a little extra TLC to help ease the transition for everyone involved. If you’re planning a move, let PrimeLending help ease the stress of finding the perfect home loan and simplifying the process. Contact a lending professional near you to learn more.