Moving can be overwhelming for children. The way that kids think about moving may be different from how adults consider relocation. Identifying the aspects of the move that could be most difficult for your children can help their relocation experience be more positive. Here are the top tips for moving with kids of all ages.
Before you decide to move, make sure to connect with your kids about the relocation details. This way, they will feel like part of the decision-making process. You can keep your children involved in the following ways:
- Take the time to answer questions. Once you discuss the possibility of moving, your child may have many questions. Make sure you take the time to answer them and explain the reasons why you need to move. You may also want to explain long distance moves with children in hours rather than miles. Children may assume that they will still be able to visit their old home if they think it is close.
- Acknowledge relationships they will leave behind. Make sure that your child is aware that the distance between a new home and their current home may prevent them from seeing their friends as much.
- Make house-hunting fun. If you haven't already determined where you will live, make finding a home a fun activity for your kids. Create a "home hunting" calendar and include colorful stickers on the dates that you choose to see homes. Use maps and other colorful illustrations to get them excited about the new location. For each place you visit, be sure to find a local park beforehand where your children can play. If your kids feel comfortable enough to play in a new area, then it can make a possible relocation feel less stressful.
- Plan the new bedroom. Tell your children that they will have the opportunity to help decorate their new room. You can give them a floor plan before you move in, so that they can decide where they want their belongings to go.
Prepare well in advance if you are moving with a baby or toddler
Moving with a baby makes everything twice as complicated! The best way to combat the added responsibilities and concerns when relocating with a little one is to make sure you start planning ahead of time.
- Plan a route that will enable you to make frequent stops to feed and change your baby. You should also ensure that you have access to hospitals or clinics along the way -- in case your baby needs unexpected medical attention. In case of long car rides, it's imperative to book a hotel stay; your baby needs a good night's sleep.
- Get a babysitter on moving day. There will be a great deal of commotion as your packed boxes and furniture are being hauled from your home, so having your baby away from the stress may make the transition a bit smoother. Plus, it will free you up to focus on a successful move.
- Find a new pediatrician and transfer medical records prior to your move. This way, you can continue with your baby's regular doctor visits and check-ups right away.
- Pack baby's room last. You want to extend the normalcy in your baby's routine as long as possible. Letting your baby sleep in the nursery until moving day will limit the upset in their schedule, making the move much smoother and comfortable.
- Hire professional movers. A full-service moving company can assist you with every aspect of your move -- even unpacking your boxes and putting every last item where it belongs! If you don't have to bother with the logistics of your move, you will have more time to focus on tending to your fussy little one.
TIP: If hiring professional movers isn't in your budget, enlist the aid of your family, friends and loved ones. Whether they pitch in with the moving-related chores, or they take the baby off of your hands, having their support and assistance will make the move much easier.
If you are traveling a significant distance to your new home with a baby, there are a number of things you should make sure are packed in your vehicle:
- Safe car seat
- Changing mat
- Baby wipes
- Diaper rash cream
- Formula or milk
- Baby food
- Extra clothing
- Hat and sunscreen
- Favorite toy
- First-aid kit
- Soothing music/sounds
Not only will these things be needed on your trip, but when you arrive in your new home, they will be easily accessible for immediate use.
TIP: When you arrive at your new room, set up your baby's nursery or sleeping area first. Keep the set-up as similar as possible to make the transition smooth and easy.
Help teenagers with the transition when you move
This may or may not come as a surprise but moving often hits teenagers the hardest. Adolescence is already a harrowing time. Unlike younger children who define themselves by their relationship to the family, teenagers are developing their own identities and defining themselves based on their friends and social lives. Losing that identity may leave your teen feeling scared, depressed and insecure.
Additionally, teenagers are in that transition period between child and adult. They are beginning to crave independence and resent parental control. Moving might make a teen feel helpless and reinforce the feelings of oppression and dependence they are so desperately fighting against.
- Give them plenty of time to adjust to the idea of moving. The sooner you break the news of the move, the better. This will allow your teen adequate time to come to terms with saying goodbye to friends and the familiarities of home. Your teen will have a lot to mull over, react to and accept.
- Listen to their concerns. No matter how selfish or insensitive you feel your teen is behaving, keep an open ear and remain nonjudgmental. Validate your teen's feelings by expressing empathy. You may want to share some of your concerns as well, so your teen knows they're not alone.
- Explain the benefits of the move. Keep in mind what's important to your teen and emphasize positive points about your new home, neighborhood or school. If your teen loves sports, bring up the athletic programs at the new school. If they love to shop, talk about the huge mall in your new neighborhood or the spacious closets in your new house.
TIP: Before moving day, take a trip to the new area with your teen to make the surroundings more familiar. Check out the popular attractions and teenage points of interest like shopping malls, arcades, parks and burger joints. Visit the new home and walk around the surrounding blocks. Make an appointment to take a tour of the new school, drop off official school records, and perhaps, meet with some of the teachers.
- Make plans to return for a visit. Before you even leave your old town, confirm plans to return for a visit. You may also want to make advance arrangements for some of their friends to visit the new house.
- Host a going-away party. Inviting all of their friends to a going away party is a great way to say goodbye. Let them choose decorations and put together gift bags for guests. This will give them something exciting to look forward to, and hopefully, feel less overwhelmed by the move.
- Wait for the summer to move. Moving during the summer will be much easier on your teen than mid-year. It will give him time to adjust to his new home and neighborhood before facing the terrifying pressure of starting a new school.
TIP: Consider letting them stay behind. Some families allow their teen to stay with trusted friends or relatives temporarily while they finish high school. If this is a possible circumstance for you, discuss it with your teen. Many would still prefer to be with their family rather than stay behind and finish school.
If all else fails, allow your teen the time to mourn their loss and reflect on the upcoming changes without a lot of pushing and prodding. Keep a watchful eye on them to be sure they don't exhibit any signs of severe depression. Don't be alarmed if they spend more time alone than usual, because it is common to be a bit sad or withdrawn. Resist the urge to be pushy as it will only further alienate your teen and cause them to be more reclusive.