Some families move frequently from one location to another. While parents do their best to make the transition smooth, kids sometimes have a more difficult time adjusting. After getting used to their way of life, it can be tough to uproot them from the familiar surroundings of home. Here are some pointers to help make the transition a little bit more kid-friendly:
Treat the move like a big family adventure.
If your children are young, you can narrate it like you are telling a story, when you break the news. “Once upon a time…” Nobody knows your kids better than you do, so model your story after one of their favorites. Keep the story light-hearted and interesting, especially if they’re too young to understand details. If you are moving a long distance, make the idea of travel exciting. Talk to them about the scenery and any special sites you might see along the way.
Focus on the positive new things that will be available to your kids in the new location. Perhaps there is a park, swimming pool, or recreation center nearby. Plan a special day trip to celebrate the completion of your move. Schedule the event at least a week or two after your move-in date. This will give everyone something to look forward to, and a break from unpacking. Build a moderate level of anticipation, but never resort to lying or make a promise you may not be able to keep.
Relieve their anxieties about new friends and schools.
Encourage your kids to talk about the upcoming move. This will give you the opportunity to help them address any fears they may be having. Assure them that their concerns about meeting new friends are normal, and that all children experience similar feelings and anxieties about fitting in and attending new schools. Share memories about your own feelings as a child. Remember how you felt the first day you started a new school.
Sports and hobbies are a great way for older children to assimilate into the community. Gather information about recreational activities that will be available to your kids, before you break the news. Be prepared for potential objections. Try to locate appropriate peers and play groups for your kids prior to moving in. Check with your local church, community recreation leaders, public school system, or scout troops. Teachers can be helpful in introducing new students to other children with similar interests.
If possible, it’s always a good idea to meet your new neighbors prior to moving in.
Encourage your kids to pack their own personal belongings.
Let your kids participate in the packing if they can handle it. Start by giving them a box to write their name on. Let them pack some of their special unbreakable belongings in it. While doing this, ask them about any special requests or ideas they have for decorating their new rooms.
If there are things that you can’t bring, explain the concept of donating to charity. Hopefully they will appreciate the thought of making other people happy through giving. Use the opportunity to sort and rid yourselves of old toys and clothes.
These gestures will make kids feel that they are part of the adventure; not just an onlooker waiting in limbo for the big move.
Facilitate a farewell get-together for your kids and their friends.
No move is complete without the proper farewell. It may be tough leaving people behind, but sometimes it must be done. Give your kids the chance to part ways with people dear to them. Organize a fun party where the children can exchange keepsakes and say their goodbyes.
Given the extent of technology today, assure the kids that they can stay in touch with their friends through e-mails and video messages. Suggest the idea of writing letters to each other. This will give them something to look forward to, decrease their fear, and any feelings of loneliness.
It’s been said that moving can be one of the most stressful events in one’s life. As in all things, focusing on the positive aspects of your move, while working together as a family to make it happen, can transform the experience into a fun and kid-friendly occasion. Before you know it, it will be just another happy memory for the archives.