Moving long distance as an adult can be stressful, staggering and scary -- so imagine dealing with it as a child! Leaving behind friends, a familiar school and the comfort of home can be difficult for any child whether they are toddlers or teens. If you are wondering how to ease the transition of moving cross country, read on for some helpful tips for moving long distance with kids.
Move long distance during the summer, between school years
If you can plan your move during the summer months, the transition will be much easier on your child. Being pulled from school mid-semester and having to start somewhere new can be scary and nerve-wracking, especially if they are introverted. Plus, they will miss work and fall behind. While moving companies often charge higher premiums during the summer because it is the peak season for relocation, it is certainly the best time to move with children.
Moving before the new school year starts will also allow children to meet classmates and teachers before the first day!
Break the news early that you are moving long distance
As soon as you can make the decision to move, talk it over with your child.
- If you are moving with toddlers, they may not understand exactly what will happen, but give them ample time to ask questions and adjust to the idea.
- Older children will likely be very curious about your upcoming move. What will your new home be like? Will they still see their friends? Do they have to start a new school? Be patient and empathetic when speaking to your children about the move, and let them know you share many of the same concerns about relocating.
- If you are moving with teens, expect resentment -- especially with a move this far. Give them to process their emotions.
Did you know...?
According to a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the worst age is to move is between the ages of 12 and 14. A child who moves during these years is more likely to engage in violent crime, abuse drugs and attempt suicide.
Get the kids involved in the upcoming move
Helping adults with important tasks makes children feel useful and grown-up. Giving them a role in moving-related tasks will help them stay excited about the move while also keeping them busy. Let them help you pack boxes, plan their new bedroom's decorating theme or assist you in donating unwanted items.
Teens may refuse to have anything to do with the moving process if they are unhappy with the decision to relocate. Try your best to be understanding of their feelings during this difficult time. Don't push!
Visit the new home and new school to get children excited
Depending on how far you are moving, bringing your child on a pre-move trip to see your new home can beneficial. Highlight exciting aspects of the home that weren't in your previous house -- such as a bigger bedroom or a swimming pool. You can also use this opportunity to tour the new school and meet their teachers. Becoming familiar with the layout of the school and locations of the classrooms will make that first day much less frightening.
If you have older children or teens, use this trip as an opportunity to check out your new city and any points of interest they might enjoy. This will give them something to look forward to about the move, rather than just feeling melancholy about leaving behind their friends and other familiarities.
Host a goodbye party for your kid's friends before you move
Your children likely have friends they will miss after you move. Planning a going-away party for your child will give them a chance to bid farewell to their playmates, close friends and loved ones. It will also give them something to anticipate in the midst of all the stressful moving chaos.
Let them pick invitations, craft a menu and decorate the house. While throwing a party might not fit well into your schedule (or budget), even a small, no-frills gathering will give your child a chance for closure.
Pack children a survival kit and play road trip games on the way
Once it's time to hit the road, you want to ensure you have a comfortable and occupied child during your long distance journey. Pack a bag with your child's essential items, such as several changes of clothes, favorite toys, snacks, handheld video games or tablet, toothbrush and other necessary items. If you are flying to your destination, include these items in your carry-on.
Being cramped in the backseat of the car for hours can make even the most well-behaved child antsy -- especially if their electronic device loses power! Keep the whole family entertained by playing traditional car games together to pass the time. You can play most of these games on a plane, too!
Some suggestions include:
- I Spy
- A scavenger hunt
- License Plate Game
- I'm Going on a Picnic
- 21 Questions
- Road Sign Alphabet Game
- Word association
- Cows on My Side