This post is brought to you by Victoria Berman.
January is a time to make those major life decisions, and if moving to another state or country is on your to-do list for 2020, then you are probably in the process of organizing for moving companies, schools for your kids, looking for a new job, etc.
All this might be overwhelming to you as a parent, but it can be worse for the children.
Most people think that moving is particularly difficult for older high school students who are already asserting their identities or forming meaningful relationships. This is true because teens or older children enjoy stability and permanence.
However, although younger children may seem more flexible, they could also suffer from a move and have major readjustments to make.
Although children thrive on routines and familiarity, in today’s volatile economy, job loss, transfers, and promotions, moving to another state or country may be inevitable at times. It’s your duty as a parent to ensure that your decision to move does not have a long-lasting impact on your kids.
The following tips will make moving less stressful for you and your kids.
Discuss the Move With the Kids
It doesn’t matter why you are shifting; you need to prepare your kids for the move by talking about it.
Don’t wait until the last minute to break the news. According to experts, how you handle the time leading to the move has an impact on how your kids adapt.
For young kids and preschoolers, calmly break the news at least a month earlier. This will give them enough time to process the news but not enough to ruminate on the expected changes. Answer all their questions truthfully and be ready for both negative and positive reactions.
Remember, even if the move means a good life for your family, kids may not always see it that way and may concentrate on the frightening aspects of the move.
The best way to prepare for a move is by making your kids a part of the process. You can involve them in the planning, house or school-hunting, etc. The goal here is to make them ‘own’ the move. Whenever possible, take your children to visit the new house/explore the new neighborhood.
Getting Ready to Move With Toddlers and Preschoolers
Younger kids may find it easy to move and adapt to a new environment since they may not be fully understanding what’s happening. However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t notice strange people, items, etc.
The following tips can make it easier for them to adapt.
- Avoid making rapid changes in their sleeping environment. For instance, it would be unwise to get rid of their old bedroom furniture. Try also to arrange their furniture in a similar way as they were in their old bedroom. This will provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.
- Don’t make other major changes immediately after the move. This is not the time, for instance, to advance your toddler from a crib to a bed.
- Have a babysitter to stay with your kid on a moving day – remember you will be busy attending to other important issues, so you need a responsible person to take care of your toddler.
- When packing their items, e.g., toys, let them know that you are not throwing them away.
Getting Ready to Move With School-Age Kids
Although elementary school kids may be more receptive to a move, they still need help and guidance through the transition. According to some experts, summer is the best time to move for school going kids since their school calendar won’t be affected or disrupted. However, others argue that midyear is the best time to move since the kids will meet other children right away and start developing a relationship.
Whatever time you move, ensure you know everything needed for the transfer. Some of the documents to carry include recent report cards/transcripts, medical records, and birth certificates.
Getting Ready to Move With Teens
Teens are always the most affected by a move. This is because they have already invested a lot in a friendship, personal goals, or a particular social group. In fact, your teen may already be in a romantic relationship. All these factors make it hard for teens to warm up to a move.
Teens don’t want to feel controlled. It’s therefore crucial that you let your teens know that you respect their views and concerns. Let them understand why the move is important. This may also be an excellent time to talk about inevitable future changes, e.g., a new job or college.
If it is practical, plan a visit to your old home to let your kids meet up with old friends. If your kid was looking forward to a long-waited social event like homecoming or prom, see whether it’s viable to fly them back home.
If your teen is already in the middle of something, let’s say an important school year, you might want to consider whether there is an option of leaving them behind with a trusted family member or a friend. When this is not an option, have a talk with your teen, hear them out, and explain why the family has to make a tough decision.
What to Do After Moving
Of course, you have so many things to attend to after the actual move. However, try as much as possible to get your kid’s bedroom in order before addressing other pressing matters, such as arranging the rest of the house.
Although the move will have some effects on you too, try to maintain your regular meal and sleep pattern. This will help provide a sense of familiarity for the kids.
For school-going children, try to meet their teachers as soon as possible. This will give you a chance to understand the changes that your kids are going through as they try to get comfortable in a new environment and school. If several weeks later, after the move, your kids are still experiencing serious challenges, it may be time to consult a family therapist.It is clear that a move can present many undesired effects. However, sometimes we just have to move. Finding a way to cope with these drastic life changes is key.