Moving is challenging. Whether you are relocating across town, across the county or to another state, you are dismantling your comfort zones, disrupting your routines and leaving some friends behind.
Relocating is even more challenging when you are moving with children, who have special concerns about how the move will affect them. Here are a few tips on how to reduce their anxiety and make your move more of an adventure than an ordeal:
Before You Move
Engage your children in the process from the beginning. Explain the reasons for the move and, as far as you are able, involve them in the decision about which house to buy or rent. Keep talking with your children about the move and, on moving day, give them jobs—handing out water or sweeping an emptied room.
If you are moving locally, show them the houses you are considering, nearby playgrounds, libraries and schools, the local YMCA. Take them to a fun restaurant in the new neighborhood.
If your move is long distance, let them explore potential houses via real estate video tours. Expand your virtual tour to include the new community’s offerings and research other points of interest—state parks, national attractions, etc. Plan a local adventure soon after your move.
Moving with Preschoolers
Don’t buy new furniture for your preschooler’s bedroom. Arrange their furniture to reflect their old room. Avoid making big changes, such as moving from a crib to a bed, at the same time as your move.
If your new house is local and vacant, make a few trips with your toddler to deliver some toys before the move.
Moving with School-Age Children
No matter what time of year, moving with school-age children comes with a specific set of challenges. A move during summer ensures an uninterrupted academic year, but neighborhoods can become quiet during July and August as families leave for vacation, so it may be more difficult for your child to find playmates in your new location. A mid-year move disrupts your child’s school experience, but he or she will meet other kids right away. In either case, make sure you have all the information the new school system will require to process your child’s transfer, including recent report cards or transcripts, birth certificate and medical (including immunizations) records.
Teachers find that children become comfortable in a new classroom after about six weeks, so expect any adjustment difficulties to pass quickly.
Moving with Teens
Your teenagers probably belong to social groups or sports organizations. A mid-year move means they will miss some highly anticipated celebrations. Listen to their concerns and address those you can. Plan a visit back for those important social milestones, if possible.
If your move is during your teen’s senior year, consider allowing them to stay in your old location, with a trusted friend or relative.
After Moving Day
Get each child’s room in order first. Resume your regular mealtimes and bedtimes to re-establish your children’s familiar routines. Encourage them to stay connected, contacting old friends through phone calls, video chats and other approved social media.
Take advantage of the research you did leading up to your move: Visit a popular local restaurant, enjoy the parks and other points of interest. Take breaks from unpacking to explore your neighborhood and introduce your children to your new neighbors.
If your children view an upcoming move as a united family effort, and if they approach your move as expanding their worlds while still maintaining old friendships, the stress that is an inevitable part of relocating will be largely offset by a new sense of adventure and growth.