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.
Talk to Them About It
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.
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.
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.
Let Them 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.
Help Them Adjust by Exploring Together
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.
Keep Them 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.
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.