Moving to a new place can be exciting, but the moving process itself is equally stressful for both parents and children. Kids feel themselves safe and comfy in their own houses and neighborhoods, with their family and friends they know. The news about moving brings them excitement, but also can frighten them, and the moving experience can be traumatic for kids because they’ll have to say goodbye to their friends, teachers and school. Your children will need some time, special attention and care during the move.
Navigate the process of moving with kids to make it less stressful for everyone by following the steps we give you in this article. Hope they help your next relocation with children easy and comfortable. Let’s dive right into it.
#1 Tell your kids that you are moving.
Earlier preparations will have a huge impact on how easily your kids adapt. Start calmly breaking the news to your kids about a month in advance, so it gives them enough time to process the information.
Your own attitude toward the relocation can also have a tremendous impact on how your children handle the move. Try to stay positive, even when you are feeling overwhelmed.
You should explain to your kids what moving means and prepare them for a move adequately. If you tell kids about the move and leave it at that, they will think they’re leaving behind their school, school and neighborhood friends, their special bedroom, and etc. It’s very important to explain to your children what they are moving toward, clarify what is coming on the new adventure, and focus on the good things about the move. You can talk about the following things:
- A new school – maybe the child’s new school will have more extracurricular opportunities.
- A new beautiful or a bigger house, emphasizing on the amenities they always dreamed about, or the ones that weren’t available at your old house (a bedroom for everyone, backyard with outdoor BBQ stove, a basketball court, etc.).
- Museums or amusement parks close by, or other features of the town.
- Different weather, warmer climate, beautiful nature and landscapes.
#2 Prepare for a move.
We recommend making a book about the house you are moving from. Give your kids a camera or a smartphone and let them take shots and choose pictures of your old house, their friends, school, and favorite neighborhood spots. Put together the book, and the last picture should be your new home.
If it’s possible, take your kids to explore the new neighborhood and visit your new house. If you are moving to another city or state, ask a real estate agent or a relative to take photos of the new house and send them to you. You can also search on the Internet together and learn some information about the new area. Try to point up awesome things about the new city, the community, schools, and fun things to do for your kids, so they will look forward to them. You should give them something to visualize.
Another important point is letting them know that they can come to you anytime to talk about the moving, the new place, or to ask for advice. In case if your children ask, try to give them as much information about their new lives, including:
- The reason why you are moving there.
- The name of the town/city, neighborhood where you will live for the next years.
- The name of the school they will attend.
- Your new address, etc.
So your kids will have details and won’t feel embarrassed when their friends or teachers ask about where and why they are moving.
If your older kids are worried and being emotional about leaving their school friends behind, try encouraging them with decor ideas. Ask them to choose the color of their new room or some piece of furniture, decorative objects, etc. for the new space. Involving children in the move in this way has the added benefit of making them feel in control at a time when events in their lives can seem out of their hands.
#3 Sort and downsize.
It’s advisable to sort all your and kids’ stuff in the following 3 sections:
- Sell or donate
Read our related article 8 Tips On How to Downsize Before Your Move.
Most likely you’ll have to do the sorting by yourself, because little children, especially kindergarten, elementary school kids might cry and wouldn’t want to give their toys and clothes away. Depending on their age, you can show a little guidance, so your kids will be able to sort their stuff and pack the “keep” items into boxes.
Try offering your kids money that they make from selling their old toys and books, or promise them buying something that they dream about and keep your word. This is a clever way to make your kids downsize themselves and the process will be less of a chore. You can do a garage sale or take photos of your old stuff with your kids and upload them to one of the following popular marketplaces for sale:
Don’t throw away and give your kids’ unused toys a second life by donating them. Sorting and gathering broken toys, pencils or other old stuff while your kids aren’t around and not paying attention is a good idea. But it’s much better to make your kids involved in deciding which of the items and toys to donate. Explain to them carefully that the books they don’t read or the toys they don’t play with anymore can go to other kids and make them happy. Search on the internet to find nearest places that accept donations, or use Donation Town to find organizations to pick up your items.
#4 Packing with kids.
Children can be extremely sensitive to packing and moving leaving behind their old houses. Let us give you some packing tips with your kids to make your relocation less stressful:
- Assign children duties such as labeling boxes or helping to pack small items. Tell them how much you appreciate their help. In general, letting kids feel a sense of mastery, makes the difference in the move.
- Use color-coded duct tape for packing. You can give a blue tape to your son, and a red tape to your daughter. Let them label their items themselves. Your kids can also help you out with other boxes too: green tape for the kitchen, yellow for the dining room, etc.
- Avoid packing up their beloved toys and favorite items. When you are busy sorting and packing your stuff in a messy house, remember that your kids might feel frightened, or need some attention or something to hold onto. Take care of them and leave their favorite toys, books or blankets in a visible place. Don’t pack their beloved items, so they won’t feel lonely.
#5 On the moving day.
Make an arrangement with a neighbor, friend or relative to watch younger children during the moving process. Be sure the kids are close by to see what’s happening but not in the path of the movers. Mark boxes that need to be opened immediately, such as a box containing your child’s favorite stuffed animal or other cherished items. Set up the children’s rooms first, so kids will quickly get a sense of familiarity and keep occupied unpacking and arranging their stuff.
Create a cartoon map of the new location in which kids can fill-in-the-blanks. Include things such as the new address, phone number, closest pizza place, new school, and other recreational locations.
#6 Help your kids adapt in the new area and find new friends.
Take family walks around the neighborhood. This is a good way to meet neighbors and potential new friends. For many children, the hardest part is leaving their close friends behind. Friendships are critical especially to your older children in the new community. Signing kids up for extracurricular activities is a great way to help them meet children with similar interests.
#7. Keep the familiar routine.
Try to keep your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give your kids a sense of familiarity. It’s important to establish and keep the familiar routine for them as soon as you arrive at the new place.
Staging your new house with familiar objects, such as furniture, toys, pictures, or even snacks, that you used to eat in your old house, etc. can also help kids feel more comfortable after the move.
#8. Go along to school to meet the principal and the teachers.
Once you arrive at the new destination, remember that the child is just beginning the most important part of the transition. Talk to teachers at your child’s new school to check on how he or she is adapting. Try to support them, because kids need some time to acclimate to a new school. Many children worry about being the new in the class, or even being bullied. It also can be hard to make new friends for some children.
#9. Encourage them to keep up with old friends.
Tell your children that moving to a new place doesn’t mean that they can’t be in touch with their beloved friends and old classmates. Thanks to an abundance of social media outlets, children can stay in contact with old friends, and you should encourage your child to use parent-approved social media, phone and video calls as a means of keeping in touch.
The bottom line
Moving with children won’t be a stress if you take the right steps to prepare for it. Hope you find this article helpful to limit the potential problems and have a better moving experience with your kids.
If you are moving locally, you can put the given ideas on your local moving checklist.