Moving With Kids

Moving can be difficult for children. Their identities are largely defined by friends, classmates and familiar surroundings. While some children may look forward to moving and new experiences, others might express feelings of resentment and anxiety.

Here are some tips which will help you

  • Be positive about the move!
    Even if you're not moving for totally positive reasons, put the best possible face on it. It will help your children to deal with the move more constructively. And if you don't, the kids' attitudes will really take a nosedive.
  • Communicate with them.
    • Children often feel "out of the loop", and they may have had no say in this important decision. So, hold family meetings, beginning as soon as possible after announcing the impending move. Explain why you're moving, and describe where you're moving to. If possible, have photos and literature for them to look at.
    • Most important: Give them the opportunity to express their feeling about the move, especially their negative feelings. It may not be comfortable for you, but it's far better to let them get their anger and fears off their chests. This is especially important if they've moved before and the experience wasn't a happy one. If that's the case, be sure to explain why this move won't be like the last one.
  • Involve them in the process.
    • If they can be given important tasks having to do with the relocation, they'll feel more involved in the transition, which will almost certainly improve their attitude.
    • What can you give them to do? It depends on their ages and maturity levels. Even the very youngest children can sort through their toys, deciding which they've outgrown and want to give away. Don't pressure them to give or throw anything away, though. That will just intensify the fear of change.
    • Older children can be given the responsibility of packing their own things, with a little guidance from you. If they're old enough to have decent penmanship, charge them with preparing the inventories that should go in each box, and marking the outsides of the boxes.
  • If finances permit, take teenagers on house hunting trips to the new location.
    While there, visit shopping malls, take in a movie; maybe even visit the schools they'd be attending. The idea is to get them familiar with the new surroundings, as well as meet some of what will become their new peers.
  • Make them your researchers on the new location.
    Most teenagers are adept at surfing the internet. Put that to use by asking them to find out all they can about the new city and state, and compile a report on it. This may be the first homework they really enjoyed doing!
  • Encourage ties with old friends
    Encourage your children to keep their ties with friends they're leaving behind by exchanging addresses and, if practical, planning visits to each other. A lot of these ties will eventually loosen as new friends are made, but it's important to minimize the break as much as possible during the moving process.
  • Let them prepare things they would like to have on arrival.
    Young or old, they should be allowed to prepare a small box containing the things they'd like to have with them on arrival. If you're driving to your new destination, take it with you. If not, ship it by an express package service so that it will be there when you arrive.

The more you involve your children in the moving process, the smoother the move will be, and the quicker they'll adjust to their new surroundings.