Moving With Kids: How to Help Them Adjust
Moving can be a challenging and emotional experience for kids, especially if they leave familiar surroundings and routines behind. Most kids have created memories in their current town, and it can be tough to leave behind friends, sports programs, and schools. Disrupted routines, fear of the unknown, environmental change, and losing their social support can make kids think that moving is a devastating process. Here are some tips for to make moving with kids easier:
Talk to them
Talk to your kids about the move and how they feel about it. Let them express their thoughts and emotions and validate their feelings. They may not always be happy and excited about a move, which is okay. It is common for kids to feel sadness, grief, and fear about moving to a new town or home. Let your kids feel whatever emotions come over them. They may feel like they are on a roller coaster of emotions. There will be days of curiosity. Other days may feel overwhelming. Some days are filled with complete sadness. It’s common for people to dismiss the grief and try to push only happy thoughts with, “Oh, this will be exciting. You have so many wonderful things to look forward to doing.” But allow them to sit in their emotions and process them, no matter what. Pushing the feelings away won’t dissolve them, but rather stuff them down to come up at another time.
Involve your kids in the moving process by asking them to help with packing, choosing new furniture or décor, or planning the layout of their new room. This depends on the age of your child. Here is a little breakdown of how you can get kids involved based on age.
These littles will be less helpful, but you can give them a box to color or put stickers on. They can play with packing paper and boxes before and after moving day.
Create a countdown calendar where they get to move the marker. Read books about moving that help them process the change. Engage in pretend play acting out the moving process. For example, act like you are movers and need to pick up boxes. Or imagine you are packers, and you need to pack up your belongings and put them on a “moving truck.”
Read books about moving that they can relate to. Teach them how to label the boxes for their room and then let them pack up things that need to go on the moving truck. Have a Q+A session about the move and explain things to them straight-forward. Plan a going away party for them and their friends. Let them exchange phone numbers, emails, or addresses with friends to keep in touch.
Let them tour the new school so they know what to anticipate in the coming school year. Recruit their help to plan the road trip to your new home if driving. Help them research new activities, sports, + clubs to join in your new area. Let them design their new room. Encourage them to collect contact info from their friends to keep in touch.
Ask them to participate in moving tasks like boxing up items, taking donations to a site, and painting. Help them research + find social groups and activities to connect with in your new area. Recruit them to help on moving day, whether directing movers, cleaning out the old space, or preparing the new space.
Make it fun
Turn the moving process into a fun and exciting adventure by planning activities around the process. We like doing a calendar countdown to big events. A paper chain or a wall calendar that lets your kids mark the days until moving day. Putting together a bucket list of things to do in your current town before moving and a list of things to do in your new town can help kids with the moving process. You could start a new moving day tradition, like taking a family photo in front of your old house, wearing matching shirts, or ordering a meal from your favorite restaurant.
Keep a routine
Try to maintain a familiar routine for your kids before and after the move. This can help provide a sense of stability and comfort during the transition. Morning and bedtime routines can give kids enough control and familiarity to make the move easier. For us, bedtime usually goes like this: bath time, pjs, brushing teeth, and reading. When we travel, we do this same thing, and it helps our kids adjust when away from home.
Stay positive and optimistic about the move, even if you are stressed or anxious. Kids can pick up on their parent’s emotions, so it’s important to model a positive attitude. When I am anxious or upset about something, my kids can sense it immediately, impacting how they perceive that specific event. If you need to vent or deal with difficult aspects of the move, do so away from the kids if possible. Now, I am not saying to shield them from every negative experience about the move because they need to see that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. But present those tough parts about the move to them in a more controlled environment where they can ask questions, and you can talk through how you are working through them.
Connect with the new community
Help your kids connect with the new community by enrolling them in local activities or clubs or by volunteering together as a family. Go to the park and local festivals to connect with others in your area. Take walks in your neighborhood and spend time in your front yard if you have one. Introduce yourself when it feels appropriate. Your new friends may be only a block away. Check out this article on making mom friends in a new town. Sometimes, connecting with other adults with kids opens up the door for your kids to make friends too
Stay in touch
Finally, plan to stay in touch with your kids’ friends and family members from the old neighborhood. This can help maintain their relationships and ease the transition. Ask your kids’ friends from your old town to be pen pals with your kids. It’s a great way to stay connected. Let your friends make phone calls to their old friends to catch up. Plan trips back to visit your old town and reconnect with friends. We’ve also planned family vacations with friends from places we’ve lived. It was a great way to reconnect with our friends while also on vacation.
By following these tips, you can help your kids navigate the moving process with confidence and resilience and help them feel excited about the new adventures and opportunities that await them. It won’t be easy, and there will be hiccups along the way, but remember that you are setting an example of adjusting to this big change.
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