Moving from house-to-house, city-to-city, state-to-state, or even country-to-country is stressful on everyone, especially children. Each year, about 13 million children relocate, and most of these kids struggle with the transition. Think about it: the parents are extra busy, meaning the children are receiving less attention. Their entire world is about to change, and they may lose all of their friends, their comfortable daily routine, part of their identity, and everything familiar. Did they even get a say as to whether or not you should move? Maybe they are now going to have to miss their championship soccer game or their long-awaited prom. Are you separating them from their boyfriend or girlfriend? If the move is accompanied by either a divorce or death, then the child will struggle with the transition all the more. Here are some basic steps to help your child with the transition.
1. EXPLAIN & LISTEN: Even though you as a parent are being pulled in all different directions, one of your top priorities needs to be your children. No matter what the age of your child, you will have to devote special time and energy into helping them with this moving transition. The first step to helping your child transition is very logical - take time to both explain the move thoroughly and listen to your child thoroughly. Make sure you answer all their questions. Be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Remember that just because this move may benefit them, all they see are the losses. Allow your child to hurt.
2. KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE: I'm not talking about the child - but YOU! You need to keep a positive attitude around your children throughout the entire transition period. You may be stressed. You may not even like the fact that you are moving. However, for the benefit of your child, keep a positive attitude about the situation. During this transition, your moods and attitudes will communicate one of two things: uncertainty and insecurity, or assurance, confidence and hope.
3. INVOLVE YOUR CHILD: If you're just moving across town, make sure you take your child to visit. Explain which room will be theirs. Ask them which color they would like their room; this will help the child take ownership and feel like a part of the decision process. On moving day, give your child a badge that states their responsibility, such as "pet control" or "beverage go-getter."
Advice for Children Under the Age of 6 Children under the age of six may be the easiest to move since they have limited capacity to understand what is going on. They will still need guidance. The following steps will help the ease the transition process for your youngster.
Keep your explanations clear and simple.
Talk about the move every night when the time to move gets relatively near. Try using a story to explain the move. Tell the story at bedtime. Tell the story on the way to the grocery store. Then while the move is happening, refer back to the story you told. Ask them what happened in the story. But remember be honest. Help your child understand that they will not be seeing their friends and babysitters very much anymore. This will enable your child to say the necessary goodbyes.
When you are packing your child's toys, make sure that you explain that they are just putting them away. If your children have a vivid imagination, tell them that their toys are sleeping for a little while.
Familiarize them with the new house. If your home is nearby and you take your toddler to see the house, grab a few toys for the ride. Leave the toys at the new house. If you go again, do the same thing. If the house is far away, get a few pictures to show them. Explain where their swing set will go.
Consider keeping the child's old furniture for at least a few months for it may provide a sense of comfort and familiarity amongst the ciaos.
Do not try to potty train or switch a child from a crib to a bed during this major transition period.
If you can, on moving day, have the child either go to preschool, stay with a babysitting, or at least have a family member come and entertain your child. This will relieve you to answer countless questions and run tons of errands.
If there is something that your child has wanted for awhile, wait until after the move. This will give your child something to look forward too.
Make sure that you leave out a few toys for your child to play with as the house is being packed, or you will be trying to answer endless questions while entertaining your child.
Once you get to your new house, unpack the toys first and get their room situated as quickly as possible.
Advice for Moving with Elementary-Age Children Children who have to change their home and school all at once need serious time and energy throughout the transition. To this day, the debate, whether it's better to change schools during the summer or during the mid-point of the year, is still not solved. So no matter which time frame you choose, make sure you talk over all the details with the school your child's leaving and the school your child's joining to eliminate any glitches that would further complicate the move for your child. Gather any information from the school your child's leaving that the school your child will be attending may need, such as report cards, birth certificates, medical records, transcripts, and test scores.
During the move, give the elementary age child two disposable cameras and tell them to be in charge of taking pictures. Designate one of the cameras for the moving out and saying goodbye process. Designate the other camera for the moving into the new house and meeting the new neighbours.
Advice for Moving with Teens Teens struggle the most, out of all the ages, with moving. In fact, many will out rightly rebel against the move. Do not get angry or discouraged yet. Put yourself in their shoes: they probably invested a significant amount of time and energy into their friend groups, job, and girlfriend/boyfriend. And depending on when you choose to move, they may miss playing a varsity sport their senior year, acting in an upcoming play, or participating in the marching band. Parents often make the mistake of making their teen feel that their concerns, fears, and objections are invalid and unimportant. You obviously do not want to communicate this to your teen! Allow your teen to be angry. Ask yourself a few questions: did I make this decision without their opinion? Did I make my child feel like their opinion didn't matter? What is my child losing? When you talk with your teen, make sure you are not trying to calm their fears and objections with blanket assurances like we will have a bigger house, you will go to a better school, and dad will be making more money. You will make your teen feel unheard. If your teen is extremely upset about missing an event, make the necessary sacrifice in order to get them back for that event. Maybe they could finish out the school year by living with a friend. Are you willing to consider that? Allow yourself to compromise.
No Matter What the Age
Always take time to say good-bye. Walk through the house when it is empty and then around the yard. Say goodbye. Allow you and your children to cry.
Have a fresh pair of clothes for everyone moving in a designated and easy to reach bag. That way, if you spill something, get drenched in the rain, or airsick on the plane, you do not have to suffer.
Advice for After the Move
As stated earlier, get your child's room in order.
Maintain a regular schedule of eating meals together
Try and keep the same bedtime routines.
Take walks around the new neighbourhood with your child.