Moving with kids can be really hard, especially with a new school, new friends, and a whole new environment. Here are some tips to help your kids adjust.
A little over 11% of the US population moved in 2016. That’s around 36 million people. While not all of those were families moving with kids, many of them were.
Moving with your kids isn’t like moving when you’re single or moving as a couple. As an adult, you understand you’ll face an adjustment period. You also know that things normalize after a while.
Kids don’t possess that knowledge. So even if you checked off everything on your moving day to-do list, your kids still need a lot from you to weather the changes.
So let’s dig into some tips that will help your kids adjust before and after the actual move.
1. Start with You
Moving is often a painful, chaotic, juggling act. Even if you hire professional movers to ease the misery, you’ll still face a mountain of tasks.
You’ll end up packing some things yourself no matter what. Everyone has things they don’t want other people packing, like family photos and financial records.
Plus, a move is a good chance to offload things you don’t need or want anymore. Sorting takes time.
You’ll probably stay at your job until a week or two before the move. So setting up utilities and researching childcare at your destination must happen around your job.
In short, it’s very easy to start shortchanging yourself on sleep. That’s one of the worst things you can do when moving with kids.
Your kids are under stress as well, which means they’ll act out more. They’ll need you to show more patience than usual. If you’re overtired, you’ll find that very difficult.
2. Tell Them It’s Coming
Don’t spring the move on your kids at the last minute. Giving them a month or so of advance warning lets them acclimate to the idea. It’ll still create some stress, but less than a week’s notice.
If you’re worried that a month isn’t enough time, don’t. Remember that kids perceive the passage of time as slower than adults. A month might fly by for you, but it’s quite a while for children.
3. Let Your Kids Have Their Feelings
You might feel some melancholy or regrets about moving, but your life experience tempers those emotions. For kids, moving can feel apocalyptic. They’re literally losing every important touchstone in their world.
It’s natural for them to feel sad or angry.
Here’s the important thing. Don’t tell your kids they shouldn’t feel something. However well-meaning, that tells your kids they’re doing something wrong.
It’s a process called invalidation that undermines emotional well-being.
4. Redirect Your Kids to the Upsides
Moving with kids can prove better than a relentless trauma.
If you find your kids wallowing, try redirecting their energy toward some positive things about the move. Take a little time and find out what’s at your destination that dovetails with your kids’ interests.
Does your daughter love dinosaurs? See if there’s a natural history museum or a least a museum with a paleontology section.
Does your son love art? See if there are some afterschool or summer art programs that he could take.
5. Plan a Visit
The unknown is part of what makes a move frightening for kids. If you aren’t moving too far away, take your kids to the new house for a visit. Seeing the new house can soften some of that fear.
It also gives you a chance to show them some of the other things they’ll care about.
If you normally visit a park every weekend, show them the park you’ll visit after you move. Stop at a local pizza place or ice cream parlor. Point out the school they’ll attend.
6. Give Your Kids a Role in the Move
You don’t want them packing fine china, but providing some role make them a participant instead of a victim.
Let them pack some of their own things, preferably non-breakable items. Give them crayons, markers, or stickers for decorating their boxes.
Also, make sure you tell your kids that all of their things are going with you. It’s obvious to you, but it’s not always obvious to them.
7. Maintain Your Routines
As much as you can, stick with your routines before and after the move.
If bedtime was 7:30 at the old house, make it 7:30 at the new house. If you always eat Chinese food on Friday evening, order in some Chinese the first Friday that you’re there.
Familiar routines make the new setting feel less alien.
8. Start Unpacking in the Kids’ Rooms
Just as familiar routines make a new home feel less alien, so will familiar possessions.
Setting up your kids’ bedrooms first gives them a somewhere to go while you unpack other rooms. So it’s really a benefit for you and them.
It also reassures them that their treasures made the trip safely. Their books, toys, and even clothes create a semblance of sameness that can reduce their anxiety.
9. Meet the Neighbors
One of the thing that makes moving with kids so difficult is the loss of their friends. Social networks provide an emotional safety net. Help your kids start new social networks by meeting the neighbors literally and figuratively.
If anyone in the neighborhood has kids the same age as your kids, arrange a casual meet and greet. Invite neighborhood families over for a casual pizza party or backyard barbeque. It lets everyone learn about each other in a low-stakes setting.
Find out about kid activities in the area and let your kids try some of them out. Put your kids with enough other kids and they’ll find a friend or two.
10. Help Them Stay in Touch
Helping your kids stay in touch with their old friends can also smooth the transition.
Make arrangements with their friends’ parents for a weekly phone call. Let your kids pick out postcards they can send their friends or encourage them to write letters.
Parting Thoughts on Moving with Kids
Moving with kids is tough on everyone, but it’s a situation you can navigate with a little planning.
Respect that your kids’ feelings are legitimate, even if they seem overblown to you. You know things will work out, but they don’t.
Maintaining routines and rituals will help make the transition less alien. Create friend-making opportunities for them. Provide reassurances that your kids can thrive in your new home.
Are you moving with kids in the Maryland, Washington DC, or Virginia area? Let Jake’s Moving and Storage deal with the heavy lifting. Get in touch for your free quote.