Child pulling wagon looks like moving house

Moving to another state, country or neighborhood can be very exciting for adults, especially if you are going there because of a career change or promotion, to start a new job or expand on a business opportunity. Most adults have experienced one or more moves, so it seems routine. However, moving can be hard for kids who may not understand the reason for the move or share your enthusiasm. Regardless of their age, kids can feel confused or nervous about a pending change of location. Children who have lived in one house can have a very strong connection to their home and everything that goes with it – their routine, their neighborhood, their friends.  So, it’s really important to prepare your kids emotionally and involve them wherever possible when planning a family move.

Don’t Ambush the Kids About the Move

Before the move, you will probably have to start making preparations. One of these may be to sell your old house. Before house viewings start, be sure to call a family meeting to explain what will happen. Do not ambush your kids by having strangers show up and start walking around their home. Kids figure things out pretty fast, so just be upfront and explain the what will be happening and why, including showing the house.

The same goes for the rest of the moving process. Share the move schedule with them and outline the major events that will affect them, such as move date, last day at school, what they will be packing and what may have to be left behind (like that old trampoline in the backyard?). This way, they can begin to prepare and feel in control of the process. Pay attention to their behavior and moods as time goes on. There are many ways to get kids ready for a move, but it’s good to take your cues from the kids on how much information and support they want.

Show Children Pictures of Their New Home

If they are old enough and it’s close by, include your children in the process of choosing a house. Remember only to ask your child’s opinion after you have talked to them about why you have to move. Observe and see how comfortable the child is to the idea of moving before involving him or her in more moving details. If you have chosen a house already and it’s too far to visit, show pictures to your kids. Emphasize more on the exciting features in order to make them long moving to the new place.  Talk about the new town and a few fun things to look forward to.

Help Toddlers Prepare Their Toys

When packing boxes, let your child pack all the toys they love. Do not be strict and harsh on them. Limiting or denying the child on which toy to carry can affect the child’s ability to cope once you move. The child is likely to go through tantrums calling you a bad parent. Some kids can’t sleep without a particular toy so make sure they carry it. This will help them sleep well and lower their anxiety when in the new neighborhood.

For older kids, enlist their help with packing duties as part of their regular chores routine.  Assign areas they enjoy,like their toy shelves books or closet, or have them work alongside mom or dad in the garage or kitchen as they are needed. Try to maintain a good attitude, organize and plan ahead, don’t overdo the workload and, after a hard job packing up, be sure to feed them a special treat like pizza or a trip to the frozen yoghurt shop as a reward for work well done.  If you make it a positive experience, the kids will remember “the move” fondly for many years to come.

Young father and son talking in their new flat or house surrounded by moving boxes

Books and Stories About Moving Can Help Kids Cope

Stories and picture books can help children relate and adapt to the idea of moving. They can show how other children coped with a move or life changing event, or even turn a move into a great adventure story and spark the imagination. Make sure that the book is age appropriate and calms the child. Perennial parent favorites for smaller children are The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Dayby Jan Berenstain or Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter book,  We Are Moving. With toddlers, you can also dramatize the move with toy moving trucks or build Lego or wooden block “old house” and “new house”.

Get Your Teens Involved

Moving is harder on teens who by now have close friendships and strong ties to their school and activities. Be prepared for some difficult moments. Give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them as adults rather than children for purposes of the move.

Teenagers invest a lot of time and effort to fit in a given group at school. Moving can make them feel like they are being torn from their normal life. Talk to them to see if there was a major event coming up soon; something like prom or homecoming that they wouldn’t want to miss. If possible, you could agree to leave your teen behind for a while to attend the event or finish up their exams. Perhaps they can live with a relative or a friend for few weeks or months, then join you later.

Use the move as a way to foster the teen’s independence and connections to the wider world of adults. For example, if you have a teen who drives a car, go through the process of investigating and taking care of changing the vehicle registration with them. Let them understand the requirements of the new state, or have them process a change of address if you are just moving to a new city in the same state. Whatever they work on, spend time with them as you explore the process together. A chance for increased communication can help you get to know exactly how they feel about moving and help them to make the adjustment to the changes happening in their life.

Arrange for Transfer of Medical Records

A few weeks before the move, identify the primary care doctors, dentists and hospital or urgent care facility that will provide care for your family at the new location. Select a pediatrician from your available list and, if possible, talk with them about taking on your children as patients to be sure it’s a good fit for everyone. Once you decide, be sure to have all family medical and dental records forwarded from your current pediatrician and other doctors to the new ones ahead of the move. This way, if anything happens soon after arrival (moves with excited children can be full of surprises!), you know exactly where to go, and all the records are already on file.

Finding a New School

Before you choose a new neighborhood, take time to find which local schools are the most desirable for your family. Finding the right school might be about test scores, or it might be about arts or science programs, after school sports or the right social atmosphere to make your children feel at home.  Whatever your criteria, once you’ve narrowed down the school zone you are interested in, focus your home search based on those target schools. Once you have a house locked up, let the kids get a look at their new school so that they have time to process the upcoming change and picture themselves at the school, with a new daily school routine and new friends. If they show anxiety about fitting in, let them know that is very normal, and give them a few tips on good ways to connect with their new schoolmates. Also give them a chance to write, call or Skype their old friends after the move to keep them going before they make new connections.

Family unpacking cardboard boxes at new home

Moving With Your Family Can Be A New Beginning

Some families may move due to a divorce, loss of a job or other family issue. These sad events can make moving more stressful. Families who look at a move as a chance to experience new places, new friends and new adventures do better than those who dwell on what was left behind. Focus your children on the fun, challenges and opportunities ahead and they will move forward and enjoy their new home faster.

Planning ahead and making moving a fun family experience will take the pressure off a family move. If you need help from affordable and experienced movers and packers who can help make your move even easier, give Move 4 Less a call for more information.