As if moving isn’t already hard enough, adding your children into the mix can present a whole new challenge. Kids are resilient, but major changes like big moves with kids can be difficult to work through if children aren’t prepared. Depending on their age, your children may be leaving behind a school, friends, and activities that they’ve grown to love. Instead of throwing them in the deep end, consider helping them get their moving feet wet with these steps.
Preparing for the Move
1. Talk to your children about your move as soon as it becomes a possibility.
Once you’ve decided to move, the first thing you should do is have an open discussion with your children. If you wait until it is time to pack, they may feel like they’ve had a bombshell dropped on them. If you give them a chance to voice their feelings and work through them, you’ll deal with a little less chaos when it is time to move. Consider the best way to tell your children, taking into account how each child best receives information. Be open, honest, and available to answer their questions.
2. Find ways to involve your children in your new neighborhood.
Instead of leaving the kids at home while you are closing on a property or even just touring potential homes, bring them along. Find activities in the area that your children will enjoy, whether it be a park nearby or local libraries, pools, or playgrounds. Helping them feel familiar with their new home will take a weight off of their shoulders and reduce the fear of being the ‘new kid’ when they move. Once you are moved in, consider hosting a game night or play date for your neighbors with children so that your kids have an opportunity to make friends quickly.
3. Reach out and get local recommendations ahead of time.
This will help both you and your children have a little more peace of mind when it comes to making a big move. Before the move, find local parent groups (sites like Facebook are full of these) and seek out recommendations for daycares and schools that meet the criteria you are looking for. The first thing most people do when trying something new out is to check for reviews, and these groups will allow you to do just that. Create a short list of places you think will fit your lifestyle, and then conduct as much research as you need to make a decision when you arrive in your new home. This will reduce the time your children will spend in limbo when you move.
10 Tips to Smoothly Move with Kids
1. Make a positive goodbye to the old home and/or community
- A few weeks before you move, host get togethers for close friends and family to say good-bye.
- As a family, make a point of visiting favorite restaurants and other special places one final time.
- When the house or apartment is empty, take a room-by-room “field trip” with your children.
- Compare how the house feels empty to how it felt with all your belongings there. What really makes a home is your family and your personal things.
2. Plan a welcoming ritual for your new home
- If the kids are seeing the home for the first time, do a walk-thru together to “meet” your new home before your belongings fill the room
- As a family, plant a tree outside as a symbol that this is your home now. If it’s wintertime, start something inside that you can transplant in the spring.
- Gather together to hang a family photograph or find a place for an object that is special to your family.
3. Have everyones ‘survival necessities’ where you can find them
- Blankies, toys, favorite PJs, etc. Pack a “must haves” suitcase for each family member.
4. Re-establish family routines ASAP
- With a move, there’s a certain amount of disruption to normal schedules, especially if a significant amount of travel is involved. Once you’ve moved in, get back to your normal schedule as soon as possible.
5. Prioritize the unpacking process
- Make your first priority setting up the kids’ rooms. Take time to enjoy getting to know your new home.
6. Allow kids some say in setting up their rooms
- This is truly their space in the new home, so let them claim it.
7. Help your children feel comfortable in their new rooms
- Some children have problems sleeping in a new bedroom. Take time to talk about how the new room is similar to the child’s old room and how it’s different. Pay special attention to things that were in the old room, to encourage a sense of familiarity.
8. Get familiar with the new neighborhood
- Talk to your kids to know as quickly as possible the boundaries of where they can do and where they can’t venture beyond. Make a game of exploring your new setting.
9. Help your pets settle in
- Your kids will feel more comfortable when they see that their four-legged friends are doing okay. Cats do best when you confine them to one room in the new home. Keep dogs on a leash until they get to know the new neighborhood.
10. Remember “make new friends but keep the old”
- Be active in helping your children make friends in your new community. At the same time, support their need to hold onto old friends.
- Meeting new friends: with colleagues from work or new families you meet, set up play dates for younger children to get to know each other. Find activities for your school-age children (sports teams, clubs, lessons and classes). Take the initiative and introduce yourself to the neighbors. Your kids’ first new friends may be living next door!
- Staying in touch with the old: Technology is great for this! Video calls are great for kids of any age to keep in touch with old friends. Email and messaging can be used for school-age and up!
Moving can be a difficult time, but preparing your children will help make the process as smooth as possible and help to lessen the stress that comes with a big move.
Alexa Lovelien, REALTOR®, GRI
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Family Realty, 1725 32nd Avenue South, Grand Forks, ND 58201