10 Tips to Prepare Young Children for a Move
Let’s face it… probably the least fun part of buying or selling a home is moving, and it’s certainly the most stressful. In fact, it may come as no surprise to you that moving is considered one of the top ten most stressful events in life!
And for you parents out there, you already know that when you through children into the mix, it just makes the whole process all the more difficult as the stress level quickly increases. To help you prepare, I’ve created a list of the following tips to help you prepare your youngsters for a move and adjust to their new home and community as they get settled in.
Tip #1) Tell Them About the Move Far Ahead of Time
The sooner your children know about the upcoming move, the better. If you wait until the For Sale sign suddenly appears on your front lawn, it will be a huge, and quite unpleasant, surprise.
Tip #2) Discuss the Pros and Cons of Moving
Children respond really well to expressing their feelings, and sometimes just simply being heard by the people most important to them (that’s you!) they will calm down and feel more comfortable with making the move. While they may be sad or angry for a moment, the feeling will pass, and soon will come excitement that outmatches your own!
Tip #3) Encourage Your Kids to Engage with Their New Community
Take a look online to see what kinds of local amenities and community gatherings regularly take place in your new neighborhood. Places such as schools, recreation centers, community sports associations, park and places of worship all offer an outlet for your kids to plug into and meet some of their neighbors. The sooner your kids make friends, the better they’ll feel about the move.
Tip #4) When Packing, Resist the Urge to Throw Away All the Old Toys
Instead, ask your children to separate their toys into three piles. Pile #1 is for keepers that they will take with them to the new house. Pile #2 is for older toys that they can donate to the local shelter to give less-fortunate kids something to play with. And Pile #3 is for broken toys that are beyond repair and need to be thrown away or recycled.
By allowing your children to make these decisions instead of making it for them, they will feel like they are more in control of the moving process and be more willing to cooperate with all the other steps that come with moving to a new home.
Tip #5) Pack Young Children's Possessions Last
While you may be tempted to do this step earlier because it’s an easier one you can quickly get out of the way, by allowing your children access to their prized possessions you will give them a means of comfort to deal with all the anxiety stemming from the move.
When you finally get around to it, be sure to clearly explain to them that all the stuff they put into the boxes is going to be unpacked at the new house, and make it extra fun by giving them some colored markers to draw on the boxes and write their name with. Stickers work well too!
Tip #6) Visit the New House Before the Final Move
By taking the children to visit the new house before the final move, you’ll allow them to get more comfortable with the idea and excited about the possibilities. Be sure to keep it short and sweet, and if there are fun local amenities like a park or community pool, drive them by to show them that making the move to a new area won’t be so bad after all.
Tip #7) Throw Your Kids a Moving Party!
Another fun idea is to turn the move into a reason to celebrate! Invite other kids from the neighborhood over for movies and pizza. Take pictures of each guest posing with your child, and give them each a copy and one of each for your own child.
Tip #8) Help Your Kids Make Friends Quickly
If you’re moving in the middle of the school year, your child should have no problem making new friends at school fairly quick. But if it’s in the summer, you may want to plan some extra summer activities so they can meet other children in the neighborhood to play with.
If they are of age, encourage them to get out and explore the local neighborhood, and if they make friends offer to take them to the local park so they can have playing on the grounds together. Summer sports are another good option as it gets your kids outdoors exercising with plenty of other kids to make friends with.
Tip #9) Have a "Family Exploring Day" After Moving
After you’ve settled and got most of the boxes emptied, arrange a day for your family to set out and explore the neighborhood. Take a stroll in the late afternoon or early evening once it cools down and take in the sights. If you live somewhere more remote, take a scenic drive to see more of your surroundings together. It will help your child feel more comfortable with the neighborhood, and give you both some early memories to share that are associated with your new home.
Tip #10) Let Your Children Decorate Their New Rooms
While you don’t have to give them full control, at least let them have some major participation in the process. Even the youngest of children will have some ideas of how they want their room decorated, and even they are a little funky, they will make the child feel more comfortable and in control of the process.
Whether it’s a big decision like the color of the walls (you can limit the options), or a small one like finding the perfect place to keep their favorite toy, by giving your children a say it will help them embrace their new space and make it feel like it’s theirs.
Above all, keep the lines of communication open. Before, during, and after the move, your children need to feel like they can share their feelings with you and like they’re being heard. Depending on the child, it may take some time for them to adjust to their new surroundings, so be sure to regularly act as a sounding board for them during the first year so they feel more at ease.