Four and a half years ago, we moved our little family across our state. It was a good move for us – good job, great place to live, close to our siblings – but it still took a toll on our little guy who had just turned 4. After several months of adjustment, we finally clicked into a routine, but the first weeks in our new place were an upheaval for us. Here are some tips to keep in mind when moving with little ones:
- Be upfront and honest with your child. Do not try to “hide” an upcoming move. The more time a child has to adjust to the idea, the better off they will be. Allow them time to get used to the idea. Telling your child about a move should be a positive experience, no matter what the circumstances behind the move. Be excited and tell of all the positive things that will happen with the move (new friends, new and fun places to visit, a new room, etc).
- Allow your child to ask questions and voice concerns. Make them a part of the discussion. This allows them to have a say in the overall decision and to take ownership in the move.
- Present a united front. If both parents are making the move, make sure both parents are excited and “on board” with the decision. If the child senses any regret and anxiety on your part about the move, they will take it on as their own.
- Expose your child to as much information about the new community as possible. Go for a visit if feasible, visiting grocery stores, schools, parks, churches and other areas of interest to your child. Or, research it together online. Call the Chamber of Commerce for the area and request information about the area (your child will love getting mail!).
- The older the child, the more difficult the move, so keep that in mind as the date approaches. Your child might act out more or do things they don’t normally do, simply because they are frustrated, anxious and/or scared. Talk about your child’s feelings and that it is okay to feel this way.
- If your child has a special friend or two with which they want to stay in touch, make sure to get that information. Having a get-together before moving is a great way to say goodbye, too.
- Pack a moving bag for the car. Include favorites like stuffed animal friends, pictures, familiar books, and add a few new things as well – travel games, cards, maybe a disposable camera.
- Once you get to your new home, get your children involved. Check out the local library or parks department for free or low-cost events to hel pyour child meet others. Offer to volunteer at your child’s school and try to be a presence for a few weeks to help them adjust.
Moving can be a scary time for kids, but adults can alleviate those fears by staying positive and looking on the “bright side” of the experience.