It’s not unusual for families to head away from a bustling city and settle in a less expensive suburban area, according to research from Chapman University.
And whether your new location is near or far from your current abode, if you’re moving with children, the change can be a big adjustment.
To help kids cope well with an upcoming move, the key is to prepare them, noted Natalie Tanner, founder of The Educational Tourist, who has moved 14 times in the last 11 years and has two children, ages 11 and 9. “Kids are amazing and can handle anything if you tell them ahead of time.”
Follow these steps for a successful move with children.
1. Talk About It.
Explain to kids the “why” behind the move, suggested Forrest Wheatey, a removal and content creator for Fantastic Removals. If it’s due to a job promotion, talk about key benefits, such as a bigger house, that will come with the move.
For young children or those who have not carried out a move before, explain that everything is going in a box but they will get it all back, advised Tanner.
Also start the conversation as soon as possible. Giving kids time to adjust to the thought of moving can help them carry out the next steps with a calmer attitude.
2. Slow Down.
“Pacing ourselves and not trying to get everything done at once was key to making our move less stressful,” said Marcus Kusi, a blogger at OurPeacefulFamily.com who has moved with two children.
Once you know how much time you have until moving day, create a list of everything you’ll need to do before the date. Then use a calendar or app such as moveCHECK to stay organized.
3. Keep Them Involved.
“Kids love it when they feel useful,” said Wheatey. “Leave them to pack their own toys, to label the boxes, or some other moving-related tasks.”
Another option: give children a glimpse of what’s ahead.
“We took them with us to look at the possible houses and they got to explore,” said Kusi.
4. Help Them Bid Farewell.
“When you’re leaving, give kids the opportunity to say good-bye,” advised Tanner.
As they visit places such as a favorite park or the library for the last time, take a picture. Then use a site such as Shutterfly to create a book of memories for them.
Also work with them through the transition, added Tanner.
“Prepare them that their little world will be the same or will be different,” Tanner said.
If you learn that the new neighborhood will have a similar ice cream shop as the one they currently love, let them know. If your child takes karate class, but the sport won’t be available at the new place, relate this and consider offering an alternative sports option.
5. Set Aside Special Toys.
For younger children, it can be frightening to watch their possessions go in boxes.
To help fears subside, give them a small box or suitcase they can take with them, suggested Tanner. Keep the container with you and let them open it at the new destination.
6. Plan Out Moving Day.
If possible, arrange for your children to stay with a friend or relative during the time movers will be in your current home. The outing will give them a fun activity and reduce stress levels during the day.
Also consider a memorable dinner.
“We had special meals since all our cookware and dishes were packed, and they enjoyed that,” recalled Kusi.
Getting takeout from a favorite place or visiting a special restaurant may be the perfect end to a long moving day.