Many families end up relocating to a new city or home at some point. Although moving can be taxing for adults, it is often much more daunting for kids who may feel like it’s the end of their world. They may feel saddened at the prospect of leaving everything behind or resentful because they weren’t involved in the decision. No matter what emotions they experience, there are a few steps you can take as a parent to make the transition easier for your children.
Many children thrive on a routine, so moving to a new city can be overwhelming. They will say goodbye to their school, teachers, friends and the community they are familiar with. After the move, kids are challenged with acclimating to new surroundings and people, which can take time. We know parents want the best for their children, so we’ve compiled our top tips to help set your kids up for success before, during and after relocation.
Before Moving with Children
Discuss the move ahead of time. Be transparent about your decision to move and speak positively about the opportunity for your family. Discussing the move ahead of time, on multiple occasions, will allow your child to become more comfortable with the idea.
Moving can be a very difficult experience for children and breaking the news is the part many parents worry about most. It is helpful to openly discuss the move with them. If you’re excited about the move (for instance, if you’re moving to a bigger house or have a new job), tell them about the happy news. It also helps to involve them in the process as much as possible, whether it’s taking them on visits to the new house or research the parks and activities in the new city together. This makes the move feel more like a family experience than something being forced upon them.
Involve your kids in the process. Keep your children involved in the moving process as much as possible. Have a “pizza and packing” party to make them feel included and a sense of control, then praise them for their contributions.
Moving to a new city of strangers can certainly be a scary idea to a child, especially if it is his or her first move. Share the story of your first move and what you did to make friends. Also let them know that you’ll be there to help them settle in and feel comfortable in their new home. Open these lines of communication so they can come to you with their feelings or concerns about the move. Allow them to be upset or sad, and then look for solutions together.
Keep an open dialogue. Let your children know you are always available to talk about the different emotions they are feeling about the move, good or bad. Reassurance and positivity will help them feel more at ease.
Keep your routine. Things may get hectic in the weeks leading up to the move, but it’s important to stick to your family’s routines as best you can. Make sure your children are getting proper sleep and nutrition, too.
Host a “see you soon” party. It’s likely your children are feeling sad about leaving friends behind. Organize a “see you soon” party so they can enjoy some stress-free playtime before you leave. Get email or mailing addresses for friends, too, so they can send letters later.
Get the paperwork out of the way. When relocating, all the little things can start to add up. It can help to make a checklist of all the documents you’ll need for the kids. For instance, make sure you know where any birth certificates and/or passports are located and keep them in a safe place so you don’t lose them amidst the commotion.
You may also need to have certain papers transferred, like school transcripts, medical and vaccination records. This is a good opportunity to scope out pediatricians in the area so that you’ll know where to go before an issues comes up.
During the Move
Pack a special moving bag. Make move day fun by packing a special moving bag for your children. Include some essentials, like a change of clothes and activities for the road, and add a few surprises like a new toy and fun snacks.
Keep children informed. Do your best to eliminate surprises on moving day and on the trip to your new city. Tell your children your travel plans and set realistic expectations for the journey.
Create moving day activities. Try to keep your children occupied during the furniture shuffle. This may be a good opportunity for them to spend extra time with friends and family.
Make the trip an adventure. Spark joy during the trip by making scenic stops, exploring new cities or doing a scavenger hunt. Not only will this act as a good distraction, your family will be making priceless memories along the way.
Explore, tour your children’s schools and meet the teachers. Try to plan a few fun things for the first few days and weekends you’re in the new town. Hit up a local museum, park, library, swimming pool, or any other attractions your kids may enjoy. Show your kids all the great things your new town has to offer. Although you’re probably stressed about getting all your affairs in order after relocating, take some time to help your kids feel at ease in their new surroundings. It can also benefit you and/or your partner to step away from your to-do list for a weekend to reconnect as a family.
Help your children get familiar with their new school by taking a tour and meeting their teachers. This will help put them at ease before they’ve had a chance to make new friends.
Meet the neighbors. Make it a point to introduce your family to your new neighbors. This helps break the ice and can be an opportunity to arrange play dates with other children in your neighborhood.
Let children create their own space. For young people, one of the more difficult aspects of relocating is losing the place they called home, especially if they’ve grown up there. They miss the house they’ve known forever, the room that felt like “their place,” and the familiarity of their environment. To get your kids more excited about the move (and more accustomed to the new house), let them decorate their own rooms. They can pick out paint colors, curtains, throw rugs, or even just a few new pictures to hang up. This makes the new house a little more fun for them and it allows them to create a space that’s their own.
Take your time unpacking. Things will feel new for your children for a while and will take getting used to. It’s good to get settled in, but take your time unpacking to ease the transition.
Get to know your new city. Once you’re settled, research to see what your new city has to offer. Involve your children in learning the history of their new community and see what interests them. This knowledge may offer comfort and begin to establish familiarity.
Seek guidance, if needed. In some cases, a child may not acclimate positively, and may need support outside your family to cope with the change. If needed, seek help with a family counselor or other professional.
Keep your children connected. Lastly, as beneficial as it is for your children to acclimate to their new home, it’s okay for them to stay connected to their “roots,” so to speak. School age kids, especially preteens and teenagers, usually feel distraught about leaving behind friendships. Before the move, make sure they exchange addresses, emails, phone numbers or other ways of staying in touch with their old friends. With all the technology available today, kids shouldn’t have too hard a time staying in touch. If feasible, you and a friend’s parents could even discuss the possibility of arranging a visit or meet-up between your child and their friends. Staying connected to old friends can give your kids a support system to turn to as they explore their new school and make new friends.
Write a letter. Chances are, your child will be homesick for a few weeks following the move. Help them write letters or emails to their friends in their old town, or arrange a facetime session. This is a fun activity that will help them stay connected to those meaningful relationships.
Have a family day. Plan a fun day for the entire family to show, no matter where you live, home is where your family is!
Remember, every child is different and will take a different amount of time to adjust. But don’t fret too much–once they’re involved at school and their community, it’s very likely that they will warm up to their new home! Until then, stay connected as a family and explore all your new city has to offer together.
We understand relocating with children can be tough, so we’re here to help! Contact Us today to see how we can help make your relocation seamless and stress-free.