Moving is a big change for anyone, but this is especially true when making a family move with children. As we know, children thrive on structure and routine. Though moving to a new house, neighborhood, and school can be an exciting experience, it’s also filled with apprehension, nerves, and doubt.
So how can you help prepare your child for moving to a new place? Here are a few tips for helping your child adjust more easily to changing circumstances, like a move.
1. Talk About It
Though you might feel the urge to hide the big move from your kids, the opposite is in fact true. It’s important to talk about things openly and honestly with your children. In the early decision-making stages, you might be able to keep things under wraps. There’s no sense in announcing a move to your children to only then have to tell them it’s not actually happening.
But once you decide that you are in fact moving and plan to put your house on the market, a family meeting is in order. Sit down with your kids as a family and all at the same time, if you have multiple children. Explain to them the reasons behind the move, where you’ll be going, and a short timeline of events.
Make sure they understand that the house might not sell right away and that they’ll need to keep their room neat for possible showings. All of the necessary details that you think might help them understand the process, should be shared.
If your children are much too young to comprehend the magnitude of a move, stick with simple phrases like, “We’re going to get a new house!” or “Mommy/Daddy got a new job and now we get to live in this really neat, new place!” Whatever the message, be sure to keep the approach positive.
2. Tour Houses with Them
Take the kids along on your house hunting journey. Allow them to get just as excited about the perspective of a new home as you are. With so many online apps like Zillow and Trulia available, you and your children can browse homes from the comfort of your own.
Ask them which type of house they like: a ranch with one floor or something with stairs? Do they want a deck or a pool? These questions can also be discussed if you’re planning to build a home.
Obviously, your final decision likely won’t be based on many of your child’s requests or desires, but validating their opinions and allowing them to feel involved in the process will also help to create a positive sentiment about moving. They will feel as if they have a say in what’s happening and that will serve you well down the road.
3. Visit the Schools
Many families don’t make a move without first researching the school systems. Once you’ve determined where your final destination will be and which schools your children are attending, schedule a visit or tour with your child.
Often times, it’s the unknown that children fear. They take comfort in familiarity so the thought of entering a school they don’t know with kids and teachers they don’t know can be a very scary thought. Break the ice by introducing your child to the principal, guidance counselor and other adult figures they’ll be interacting with. Try to schedule your child’s visit during regular school hours, when other children are present—they might make a new friend!
Visiting the school will also familiarize your child with the layout. Show them where their classroom is, the cafeteria, bathrooms, and main office. This will help them feel more comfortable come the first day.
4. Let Them Design Their Room
Once the house is picked out and your child’s rooms are designated, let them help with some of the decorating decisions. If it’s possible, allow them to choose which bedroom they want. When it comes to decorating, your child can help choose a paint color and how they want their furniture arranged.
Will their rooms have carpet or hardwood? Do they want a certain theme—cars, sports or animals? Allow them to choose some wall decorations, lighting and accessories. Helping them feel ownership over their space is a great way to get them excited about their new room, new home, and new experiences.
5. Make Connections
Most towns have public and parenting forums online that you can join before finalizing your move. Use these websites to help network and make connections with other parents. This is a great place to find local groups, organizations, and clubs that you and your family can become involved with.
Perhaps there’s a local church or youth group that your family would enjoy. Are there clubs, sports teams or other peer organizations that you think might benefit your child? Sign them up!
When you’re visiting your new hometown, frequent the local stores and markets. This is a great place to meet local residents, introduce yourself and start establishing relationships. This will help you gather useful information, receive helpful tips and advice about the local area.
Moving as a Family
Because moving is such a monumental decision, it should include the entire family. There are so many great ways to involve your child in the process, while also helping them ease into the idea of living somewhere new.