Moving homes is never easy. Moving homes with kids is even more of an undertaking. Whether you are relocating for work, moving to be closer to family, or simply changing locations for a change of pace, a big move can be hugely exciting- and also extremely stressful.
For very young children or for your teenaged kids, the process of moving requires extra open communication, plenty of understanding, and a lot of patience to navigate all that emotional turmoil. Moving can be a hugely exciting adventure, or an overwhelming project- even in the course of one day.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the big move in advance. Let’s take a look at four ways to ensure that that big home transition is as smooth as it can be.
1. Give Yourselves Plenty of Time
Once you know you are going to relocate, it may be tempting to put off sharing the big news. If at all possible, avoid falling into the trap of procrastinating. Kids are smart- they will be able to sense that something is going on. And in the midst of a major transition (like relocating to new town or state) you want to focus on building trust within the family.
Take the “rip the bandaid off” approach so that you all have as much time as possible to process and prepare. Besides just the emotional upheaval your kids may experience, there will be a lot of practical logistics to attend to as well. So the more time you can work together as a family, the better. Call a family meeting, sit every one down, and let them know what’s going on.
2. Get To Know The New Town Together
As you all prepare for the big move, you can involve your kids in some basic research to help get them excited about your new town. Print out some pictures of the new house you will be moving into and let them brainstorm about how they would like to decorate their space. Encourage them to draw or make an inspiration collage of their new room décor. That way their designs can give them something to look forward to right off the bat, as you work together to decorate and assemble a new room that they will love.
Pin up a map of your new town and work together to find highlights and fun activities you’d like to do together. Is there a great-looking local ice cream shop you can visit? What about a nearby river or lake where you can try rafting or kayaking? Emphasizing the fun to be had in the town you will move to will create a feeling of excited anticipation that can help mitigate any feelings of anxiety or dread your kids might feel. Then, once you arrive in your new town, take some time to visit a few of the places on the list as a fun reward for finally arriving.
3. Create Lasting Connections
One of the hardest parts about moving with kids is the fact that they will be leaving their friends behind. Today, however, it is much easier to stay in touch. Make sure your kids know that they can maintain their current friendships, even after they start to make new ones.
Gather up phone numbers and email addresses for your kids’ friends into an attractive address book that they can flip through if they are feeling lonely in your new place. You can even encourage them to take up a pen pal- writing and receiving letters and postcards can be an exciting activity and a sweet reminder of the long lasting connections your kids will have, even across long distances.
Plus, you can make a plan for a visit to the old home before you even leave. That way your kid will rest comfortably knowing that they will see their friends again before too long. Planning in this kind of visit can go a long way towards easing anxieties over the big move- with a visit scheduled on the calendar, your kids will know that they are not leaving forever. Because forever can certainly seem like a very long time.
4. Pack Together
Your youngest children might find the idea of packing up all of your furniture and belongings into boxes and sending them off into the great unknown somewhat mystifying. It can be scary to think that all of your beloved objects are somewhere out there in the world, traveling in places you have never been, in ways you don’t fully comprehend.
So you can make the move less frightening by involving your kids in the packing process. Read them a story that depicts a family going on a big move, or introduce them to the friendly movers. Explain that your boxes will be traveling safely, going on a journey in a big truck across the land. Shaping the narrative of the big move can help your kids follow along with what is happening.
Then, as you pack, set aside a special suitcase or backpack full of precious objects. This can be their special traveling backpack full of objects that bring them comfort during difficult times. You can include special stuffed animals, a favorite book or two, or their precious blanket. Throw in some snacks and juice boxes for good measure, and a comfy change of clothes if your journey is long. Sticker books, coloring books, or activity books are also a great thing to include. Then they will be all ready for the day of the big move.
Moving As A Family
As you navigate the ups and downs that a big move can bring, be sure to emphasize that the channels of communication are open. Your kids will most likely feel a confusing contradictory blend of feelings: happy and sad, excited and nervous.
Let them know that you are open to hear about what they are going through and that even for you, as an adult, the big move can cause some of the same worries and concerns. The most important thing is that you will be moving all together. Reassure your kids that they will never be left behind, and then you can get excited about embarking upon this new adventure together as a family.
This article was written by Teresa Bennett. She is a passionate writer and reader. She is fascinated by all things real estate, travel, and health. She lives with her two cats and a dog in a small menagerie.