“Remembering what’s important.”
Moving can often be difficult for children. Often, they're starting over, trying to meet new friends while getting used to a new home, neighborhood, and school. Think about your children's specific needs before, during, and after the transition, and you'll make a big difference in how your children feel about the move and how they adjust afterwards.
Before The Move: Preparing
- Give your children a chance to express their feelings, and try to be honest about your own feelings. Children who have a chance to express them will work through their doubts more easily.
- Help older children compile a list of phone numbers, emails and physical addresses of friends, relatives, and other important people in their lives. Knowing they can stay in touch with these important people will be reassuring.
- Take your children to your new home before you move and explore the new neighborhood and town or city together.
- Try to line up some activities in which your child can participate after the move; a sports team, music lessons, or a scouting troop. Not only will activities like these keep your children involved, but they'll also help them feel like part of the group.
During The Move: Remembering What's Important
- Throughout the move, stay as upbeat and calm as you can. Your own mood will impact your children's moods.
- Involve your children in the packing. Older children can put their own belongings in boxes, and children of all ages will enjoy decorating the boxes containing their things.
- Try to stick to your routines. Have meals at the same times as always.
- Don't pack things that your children treasure. Take special blankets, favorite books, and other prized items in the car or on the plane when you go to your new home.
- Help your children say goodbye to the important people in their lives. For their friends, a party is a fun way to celebrate the friendship.
- For many families moving day means a long car trip or a cross-country flight. Prevent backseat blues and airline angst by adding travel fun and games to your plans.
- Allow your child to bring an album with pictures of their old home and friends. This will allow them to express their feelings and allow you to reassure them that it is natural to feel loss and initial discomfort with such a big change.
After The Move: Getting Settled
- To make your new home seem more like home, hang your child's or family portrait in a prominent location or create a tabletop display of family photographs.
- Take pictures of the new home, new neighborhood playmates, family members and school, etc. Start a new family album to show there is fun and family togetherness available at the new home.
- Don't spend too much time unpacking—at least not right away! In the first few days, take time to enjoy your new home with your family. Take walks and check out local restaurants.
- Above all, listen. Try to be there when your children get home after the first day at their new schools, even if it means having to leave work early that day. Continue to ask how things are going even after the move, and take time to listen.