A move is disruptive for the entire family, but it can be more traumatic for kids. Kids need time to adjust to the idea of moving to a new home, whether it’s across town or across the country. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make this time of change a little easier for them.
CONSIDER YOUR TIMING
If possible, postpone a move if your family has recently dealt with a major life change, such as a divorce or death. Most kids thrive on familiarity and routine and will need time to adjust to these big life changes before enduring the disruption of a move.
KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Your mood will have a big impact on how your kids feel about moving. They are looking to you to take their cues when it comes to their own feelings about this big change. Even if the move is out of your hands and you’re not happy about it, try to maintain a positive attitude to help your kids with their own feelings.
TALK ABOUT IT
It is vital that you talk to your kids immediately when you’ve decided to move. Give them as much information about it as soon as possible. Take time to answer their questions. Even if the move is an improvement to your family, they may not be able to easily understand that.
When you involve your kids in the planning process, they are less likely to feel stressed out. They will be participants instead of being dragged along. Allow them to join you in the house hunt and the visit to the new school. Let them pick a paint color for their new bedroom, even if it’s not your favorite color.
When moving with toddlers and preschoolers, use a story to explain the move by using toy trucks and furniture to act it out. Maintain familiarity as much as possible by packing their room last, then setting up their new room first. Avoid changing their bedroom furniture and décor so they can feel comfortable faster. Avoid potty training or advancing to a bigger bed until they are settled into their new home and feeling comfortable again.
If you have school-age kids, consider when the “right time to move” will be for them. Some experts assert that big moves should be made during the summer to avoid disrupting the school year. Others think it’s better to move midyear so they can meet new friends right away. Decide what you think will be best for your own kids.
It’s not unusual for a teen to actively rebel against a move. They have invested themselves in their social groups and perhaps romantic relationships. Make the effort to let them know that you hear their concerns. Planning a visit back to their old neighborhood after the move can be helpful, as well as bringing a couple of friends out to visit the new place where you live.
Once your kids start their new school, teachers generally expect them to feel comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Be patient and provide the emotional support they need until they feel good about school.
Moving is always a challenge on numerous fronts, but it can be a time when your family draws closer together and learns to be more flexible and adjusted when changes come.