When our family moved from Florida to Tennessee, my kids were just two and three. Overall, the adjustment was easy and they had no complaints. But fast forward five years to when we moved a few house down the street, and emotions ran high. Now that they were older, they were much more attached to their home environment and felt anxious about the change. The anticipation of living in a new place can be difficult for children as well as their parents. Fortunately, there are effective ways to make moving easier on kids.
Chances are, if your family is planning a move, there are tons of questions and feelings running through your child’s mind. With the stress of everything that has to be taken care of before the move, it might be easy for parents to overlook how much guidance and attention a child needs through this process. But guiding your child through their worries doesn’t have to be another stressor. Having intentional and meaningful conversations as a family can help to ease everyone into the newness. If you are looking for ways to make a smooth transition, keep these points in mind when preparing for your next family move.
1. Encourage Closure
There are a myriad of things your child may miss about their current home and community. Leaving behind friends, teachers, and teammates can cause lots of tears and heartache. To make saying goodbye (or see ya later, as some prefer) have less of a sting, give your child a blank book for gathering memories, such as pictures of them with their friends and well wishes from loved ones. You should consider taking yoru child on special visits to say goodbye to their favorite places and people. Activities like these will help children develop a sense of closure for that chapter of their life, and prevent the feeling that they missed out on letting go of their old home.
2. Give Them Ownership
Moving into a new house and sleeping in a new bedroom will seem a lot more exciting if you hand over the decorating reins to the kids. I’m not saying they get to arrange the living room furniture and paint the kitchen neon yellow, but putting them in charge of their new room’s design can make the transition more appealing.
3. Pump Up The Excitement
When my boys expressed their hesitation in moving, my husband and I decided to turn their trepidation into excitement. We brought them to the new house to have a look around. As we walked through the house, we encouraged them to claim a bedroom, find some good hiding spots for hide-and-seek, and make a wish list for what we could buy for the backyard. Once they were able to visualize where we would be moving, they quickly became excited about the possibilities of a new home.
4. Be Honest
Although kids may not always understand the reasons why they have to move, parents should do their best to respect the tough emotions their child may be experiencing. Children may have many questions as the move approaches. What will my new school be like? How will we find the grocery store? No matter what questions pop up, Kids Health encourages parents to be as truthful and understanding as possible. Keeping an open, honest dialogue may help to ease some of the anxieties provoked by moving.
5. Be Supportive
“When parents support each other and work hard to make the move as easy for the themselves and their kids as possible, negative effects are minimized,” psychologist Nancy Darling told Psychology Today. As with most things, it’s important for parents to present a united front to help their children to trust that everything is going to work out.
Through every move, I have always reminded myself that the hard stuff is only temporary. Once the boxes are unpacked and everyone settles in, life will go back to how it was before the moving truck pulled into our driveway. Making it through a move as a family can be hard, but keeping these ideas for easing the stress in mind will give any parent the confidence to lead the way to a new life.