The following tips might particularly benefit families moving to a different community or city; however, many suggestions would equally apply to families moving around the corner.
To begin with, realize that relocating is hard for kids. Some children regard the prospects of moving as being so traumatic they visualize their world is crashing down around them. Under the right parental direction and guidance, a child’s fear of the unknown can give way to the anticipation of a welcome adventure. Understand that a move made easier for the children is a move made easier for you.
Before the move
1. Tell kids early
As soon as the decision to move becomes final and you and your spouse have come to terms with it, tell the kids. Be prepared to discuss specifics about your new location with your children. Maps and websites about the new location are helpful.
2. Explain the basics of moving to younger children
Reassure them that their room furniture and treasured possessions will move with them.
3. Be positive
An optimistic up-beat attitude is conducive to open and honest communication.
4. Inform and involve
Explain why you are moving. Level with them. Review the advantages and disadvantages to the family that the move will entail. Children are more accepting of a move if they can identify a tangible benefit; a larger room, for example.
5. Listen to their feelings and share yours
Your emotional support is essential. Share some feelings of apprehension and sadness that you may be experiencing about the move. Here is the important part; listen to their feelings. If you’re not the touchy, feely type then have your spouse perform this role. The vulnerability children can experience sometimes gets expressed in anger. Negative reactions to a forced move are commonplace. Calmly respond with reason and understanding (easy for us to advise, eh?).
6. Keep a united front
Kids are intuitive about sensing parental discord. It is easier for kids accept the transition if both parents appear to be welcoming the move.
7. Let kids participate in appropriate decisions
The feeling that children have lost control of their lives is greatly reduced when they are genuinely included in some of the decision making processes.
8. Make family time
When house moves are being made business work loads are often overwhelming. Don’t lose sight of what is important. It is essential that the internal stability of the family unit be maintained. Be there.
9. Moves suspend friendships
Teens are impacted most. “Do I have to go?” Is a common cry. Listen to their concerns. Try to time the move to best suit your children. Let teens know they can call their friends from the new house. Now is not the time to discuss call frequency restrictions or time limitations.
10. Buy each child an address book
Let them acquire the addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses of all their friends.
11. Try to visit the new house with children
Let the children see where they’re going to be living and the transition will be much easier. If this isn’t possible, video record the new house, the new neighbourhood, school, etc.
Kids intensely worry about “starting over” in a new school. Try to meet with the principal, teacher, or guidance counselor beforehand. Find out what local kids are wearing so your children will fit in right away.
13. Establish connections into new community before you move
Find out about the churches, community centres, music, team sports programs, scouts, or other areas of interest of your children. Try to line up at least one activity beforehand for each child.
14. Allow kids to plan their own furniture arrangement and any redecoration of their room
Maybe you can let them choose something from the latest ikea catalogue too.
15. Throw a going away good-bye party for your children
Take pictures, have the kids exchange addresses, they’ll love it.
16. Send each child a letter to the new address
Buy a card. Put a cheque in the card. Mail it so it will already be at the new house when you arrive. Guaranteed to get you a hug.
17. Allow each child to pack their own prized possessions themselves
Why not let them pack their whole room themselves, too?
18. Assign moving day chores to each child
Delegate complete responsibility for pets to the kids. No pets? Find other specific responsibilities on moving day for each child.
After the move
19. Have movers set up children’s rooms first
Make the kids feel at home, right away. Direct movers accordingly when they pack the moving van.
20. Take a walk with your family the first day
As you explore together, keep your eyes open for neighbourhood kids
21. Stick to family routines and keep to your normal schedule
Make yourself available and commit to extra family time. You’re needed.
22. Get the kids involved
Make certain each child/teen is signed up to participate in at least one activity. This is the easiest way for them to meet friends and establish a sense of belonging to the new community.
23. Drive or walk your kids to school
Yes, even the teens, and try to be home when they return.
24. Listen to them
Be caring and try to help them adjust.
25. Allow them to call and even visit their old friends
Sign up for one of those long distance savings plans. You’ll need it.
26. Be friendly, invite the neighbours over
You need to make new friends, too.