Preparing Children for a Move
These 10 tips will help kids make a smooth transition to a new home.
Before leaving your old home behind, it’s important to help your children prepare to say goodbye to it. Here are some tips to help their relocation go as smoothly as possible:
Keep your child involved in the moving process.
Moving is difficult for everyone, but your relocation will go much more smoothly if your kids are kept in the loop about the details.
Write the date you're moving on the family calendar, so your child is well aware of when it's happening. Also, write the date that you'll need to start packing. If your children are older, have them pack up their own rooms or favorite items. Supply them with markers, crayons, stickers and labels so they can decorate their boxes.
Ask your children to draw a picture of how they will arrange and decorate their new room. You could even help make a floor plan.
Help your kids get familiar with their new surroundings.
Take pictures or video of the new home or town, so they become familiar with the new surroundings.
Leslie Levine, author of Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home?, suggests giving your children a camera to take pictures before leaving the old house. They can document their favorite parts of their old home, and they can take pictures of the new house to send to old friends. Levine says this "helps kids make sense of a move."
You can also get a large map of the new area. Locate and mark several of the places you have discussed as well as where the new house will be. They'll recognize these landmarks when you arrive.
Help them get involved in their new school and community.
Making friends and doing activities they enjoy will help ease the transition for your child, so give them a head start. Put together a folder for each child that includes brochures about the new city such as theaters, libraries, parks and sports teams. Be sure to include information on activities they enjoy.
Another tip from Lori Collins Burgan, author of Moving With Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family’s Transition to a New Home, is to explain to teachers, coaches and any other adults who are going to be part of the child’s life that the move is going to be tough on your son or daughter. You can recommend things that will help with the transition. Burgan says, "I’ve found adults to be very willing to help, they just sometimes don’t know how."
The last time Burgan’s family moved, her daughter was in the fifth grade. The author explained to her daughter’s new teacher that the girl was athletic and asked if the teacher could pair her with another girl with similar interests. Her daughter, now 16, became best friends with the girl her teacher paired her with that year.
If your children are too young for school, Burgan recommends spending time outside with them, even in bad weather, so that they are visible to other kids in the neighborhood. Leave toys on the front lawn and go on walks with your children through your neighborhood. "If I see a child go in a door, I’ll even go up and knock on it," Burgan says.
Have a going-away party.
A going-away party is a great way to create some lasting memories from the old home. Have your children help plan the event.
Be creative. Buy a T-shirt or stuffed animal for your child and ask their friends to sign it or write a special message on it. Be sure to have a special address book at the party where friends can write down their contact information.
Leslie Levine says she had a goodbye party for her daughter where she gave out bags with self-addressed, stamped cards for her friends to send her.
"She got mail (at the new address) for a long time," Levine says.
Make the new house seem familiar.
When Levine moved from Chicago to Rochester, N.Y., she wanted to do something special. So she enlisted the help of her real estate agent who planted some well-chosen toys for her daughter and son, then 8 and 3, to find in their empty closets.
"For my daughter, we had an American Girl doll and my son this Little Tykes garage thing," Levine says.
The surprise worked. "Who wouldn't want to find something wonderful in their empty closets after moving away from everything familiar?" she says.
Continue fun family rituals, and start new ones.
Is Tuesday always taco night? Try to stick to your fiesta schedule, even during the hectic unpacking process. Continuing family pastimes you enjoyed in your old home can help kids feel at home in the new place.
"You can also come up with some new rituals, like pizza in the living room," Levine says.
Keep it positive.
Even if you're less than thrilled about the move, Burgan says it's important to have a positive outlook about your situation.
"Don’t always be comparing the old community to the new community in a negative way," she says.
Your attitude about your new surroundings will rub off, so it will be easier for your kids to adjust if you're adjusting well, too.
Portions of this article were written by Allison Bisbey Colter, a contributor to Relocation.com, a leading provider of moving quotes and information on moving companies.