When it comes to telling people what to do with their children, we understand that there can be some sensitivity involved.
But hey! If you’re here, that means you would probably like some concrete advice.
This article will give you the solid guidance that you seek.
We may be the moving experts but you are your own child’s expert.
You know them better than anyone.
That being said, the suggestions we make are based on what child psychologists have said and what we know has worked for other parents that have made a cross country move.
Let’s get into it.
Let’s face it. No one likes last-minute changes, especially ones that disrupt daily life. Your children feel the same way. To help them cope with moving anxiety, there are several steps you should take well before moving day.
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Give them enough notice
Here’s a tip for moving with kids: tell them ahead of time that the family’s moving.
Dr. Jamie Howard, director of the Stress and Resilience Program at Child Mind, states that “it’s much easier to deal with something that’s expected than it is to be shocked and unprepared for a stressor.”
Once you know that you’re moving, sit down with the kids and tell them. This will help them process and prepare for the future.
Answer their questions
As your children learn when and where the family is moving, they’re bound to have questions. Even if some of them seem silly, listen intently and answer all of them to the best of your abilities.
For local moves, remind them that they can still see their old friends and visit their favorite parks.
If you’re moving out of state, be honest with the kids and tell them if you plan to visit. Thankfully, teenagers can still keep up with and interact with their friends via social media. Your honesty, though perhaps difficult to hear at first, will aid in their preparation.
Focus on the positives
It’s easy to look at all the aspects of life that moving takes away. Kids will miss their neighborhood friends, extended family members, and school. These are all familiar to them, and the unknown is frightening. However, you can make moving with children a beneficial growing experience when you focus on the positives.
Instead of dwelling on what they’ll miss out on, tell them about all the good that will come from it!
For example, tell them if their new house will be bigger, they get their own bedroom, or they’ll be closer to other family members. It may also help to find books about moving for kids and tell them your own experiences. It’ll make the process clearer and less foreign to them, which means they likely won’t be as scared.
Take a trip to your new community
If you can, take the kids to the family’s new home and community. Let them see the house, nearby parks, and the school they’ll attend. Point out all the aspects that they’ll like and remind them of all the good that will come from moving.
If you can’t visit the area, use the internet to your advantage! Show your kids the pictures on the house listing so they know what their new home will look like. Show them pictures of parks, sports centers, museums, and other places in the new town so they see how much fun it will be. Don’t forget to let them see what the school looks like too!
Providing a visual is a great way to dispel uncertainty. Your kids will have an easier time adapting when they know what to expect.
Transfer important records
Knowing how to plan a move with kids involves aspects that the children never even see.
Moving to a new area with school-age kids means you’ll need to send their records to their new school. Remember to notify administrators of any special needs or circumstances that will affect your children’s learning progress.
You’ll also need to find new doctors and other health professionals in the area. Make sure they have all the necessary medical documents so you and your family can stay on top of prescriptions and other health essentials.
Let them help pack
Are you wondering how to help your child cope with moving anxiety? Get them involved in the process!
When you let them help, Ryan and Rachel Ehmke from Child Mind state that it can make “them feel in control at a time when events in their lives can seem out of their hands.” For example, give the kids some boxes and let them pack up their room. Let them be in charge of labeling boxes or adding colorful stickers to them.
You can also let them weigh in on what color to paint their new room and other rooms in your house after you move in.
These responsibilities, no matter how small, will give your children a sense of belonging and authority that connects them to the move in a positive way.
Leave out cherished belongings
Packing for a move is a long process, and the house is going to look messy and disorganized. It’s easiest to pack up one room at a time, but it isn’t that easy when you’re moving with children. The little ones will have their favorite toys, blankets, clothes, and etc. that they feel they can’t live without.
Instead of fighting with them on it, let them choose which items to pack and which ones to leave out. Kids need familiarity, and those few items will make it seem less like their world is falling apart.
Throw a goodbye party
Goodbyes are always difficult, but a goodbye party is a great way to have fun before moving. You can invite the family, neighbors, and kids’ friends over to socialize and interact before you move away.
This will give everyone pleasant memories to look back on long after the fact. Kids tend to like tangible objects, so encourage those in attendance to bring a small memento for them.
It could be something that represents an inside joke, a souvenir of their hometown, or even a letter. They’ll love looking back at them and remembering the good times they had with their friends.
One of the other nitty-gritty details of moving with children is arranging a babysitter. It’s not easy to work with the moving company on moving day when you have young children that also need supervision, so it’s crucial that you set this up in the weeks prior.
Some moving companies partner with or provide childcare services as part of the package, but others may require you to look at other options. Be sure to consider friends or family as well since the kids will be comfortable with someone familiar. If the kids are old enough to look after themselves, consider providing activities for them in a room away from the movers.
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If you go through each of the previous tips for moving with kids, there isn’t much else to do on moving day. You’ll make sure they’re ready for the day, and then the work begins to ensure they adjust well to their new home.
Assemble fun activities
Amid all the details of your move, children need something to occupy their time. This is especially true if you’re moving out of state or a long distance. Put the kids’ favorite toys, reading books, coloring books, games, and other items in the car so they can entertain themselves for part of the drive. Give them a pen and paper for games like Hangman, Tic Tac Toe, and the like.
You can even create a moving music playlist and let the kids decide on some of the songs included for a jamming drive that everyone enjoys!
Pack a separate bag for essentials
Moving day is always full of last-minute packing, so make sure you have a separate bag of the essentials for you and the kids. This includes clothing, medications, toiletries, diapers and wipes, blankets, food, and other items you’re sure you’ll need through the first night.
Doing this will make it so you don’t have to dig through boxes as soon as you arrive to find everything you need.
You’ll be able to care for yours and the kids’ needs without feeling scrambled and stressed. And the kids will appreciate your calmness!
Once you’re in your new home, it can be easy to throw all semblance of a schedule out the window. You’ll want to unpack boxes and set up each room, and you may feel so busy that you forget to stop and each lunch!
While you may be okay with this, children need familiarity to best cope with moving. Dr. Howard states that “younger kids, in general, thrive with routine and predictability,” and parents should “get a routine established ASAP.”
The easiest way to do this is to maintain your usual mealtimes, bathtimes, and bedtimes. You should also continue other family traditions, like Saturday movie nights, Sunday bike rides, and etc.
Offer them some control
Because moving takes away many aspects of a child’s feeling of control, letting them make decisions in your new house will help them cope with change.
Show them around the house, and if they haven’t decided already, let them choose which room is theirs. It’s a good idea to unpack the children’s rooms first so they have more familiar items around them. Let them pick where to place their furniture and toys so they can feel in charge. It may even give them some motivation to keep their belongings organized!
Establish new rules
As much as the kids will want everything to stay the same after moving, there will still be differences in daily activities.
Depending on where you live, you’ll want to establish new rules to keep your children safe. For example, you may ask the kids to stay away from certain areas without supervision, such as a body of water, train tracks, and even certain streets. Make sure you cover biking safety, interactions with strangers, and curfews as well.
As long as you set these rules by showing your kids that you love and care for them, they shouldn’t have an issue abiding by them.
You may have anxiety about moving with children because you aren’t sure how they’ll respond. However, it doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. If you prepare the kids ahead of time and give them opportunities to make decisions, you’ll find that they take it much better than anticipated! Then, you can get busy having fun, learning about the community, and making new friends! What tip are you most eager to use to prepare your kids to move? Tell us in the comments!