Kids find moving stressful, just as adults do. Though less complicated for children, it is equally stressful. Kids feel safe in their own homes and neighborhoods, with the school and friends they know. Even with an air of excitement of the unknown, it also frightens them.
How to make the move easier for the kids and for you!
Let your children know about the move ahead of time
That does not mean simply telling them ahead of time is enough, though. You should tell them in a fitting way. Make sure you are all together as a family when you break the news and tell your kids before you tell other grownups who may reveal the news before you do. You will want to hold off on telling teachers, parents of friends, etc., until your kids themselves know.
Make the reason for the move as specific as possible
Many parents still fail to prepare their children for a move adequately. If you tell kids about the move without specific details, all they know is what they are leaving behind: school, neighborhood kids, possibly grandparents, their special bedroom and so on.
It is important that parents rather emphasize what kids are moving toward, including:
- A new school
- A new home, with emphasis on desirable amenities that are not available at your old home (a backyard, a bedroom for everyone, etc.)
- Different weather or landscapes
- Unique features of the new town (Any children’s museums close by, perhaps, or nearby fossil beds?)
It is also important to clarify what and who all is coming on this new adventure, including siblings, pets, other treasured items.
Avoid packing your child’s favorite items
When you are in the thick of packing, it is natural to want to clear away as much mess as possible. So, while it may be painful to you, take extra care to leave the things the kids love out and visible. That means their favorite blankets, toys, art projects, etc.
Right now, and until you can create a new life, it is best to leave the old one as familiar as possible.
Give kids something to imagine
It always helps to give kiddos something to visualize. Ideally, you made a scouting trip to your new home city before deciding to move and snapped lots of pictures while you were there. If so, let kids sit next to you as you scroll through photos of their new school, your new home, and major sights from the new area.
If you do not have pictures available, that is what the internet is for.
Offer kids as much detailed information as you can
Provide as much information about their new lives as possible, including:
- Your new address
- The name of their school
- The name of their neighborhood
- The reason for the move
- The name of your work/your spouse’s work
This way, when teachers, family friends or other adults ask kids about their new life, they have real details to share.
Plus, this is good safety information and important to drill in ahead of time.
Turn to fun projects
Hopefully, your children get to skip most of moving day, hanging out with grandparents elsewhere or riding in a separate car from the moving van.
That does not take care of them the rest of the time, however. Packing is a long process. Neither you nor the kids will be happy if they’ve nothing to do but bug you while you get ready.
Here are some fun ways to keep younger kids occupied while you pack. Have older children who are moody about leaving middle or high school friends behind? See if you can interest them in these easy room décor ideas to deck out their new space.
Rewards do work
While children work hard to please their parents, intrinsic motivation – the desire to behave for the sake of virtue – only goes so far. Then you should break out the goods: treats, toys, and special time.
When you need kids to stay out of your hair for packing, or even more demanding jobs such as staging your home, it helps to offer a reward. It can be a coveted treat, a new toy, or the promise of some special time together later.
Rewards like these also help:
- To keep kids quiet when you are planning with movers/other service providers, either in person or on the phone.
- On moving day, itself.
- When you arrive in your new home, with all the chaos of unpacking and logistics.
- To help them settle in once the dust settles if they feel out of place.
If you do not substitute treats for attention all the time, it is fine to use a few carrots every now and again. Moving days only come around occasionally, so no habits are being made here.
If you are happy, the kids will be happy
At the end of the day – moving day, of course – kids are going to take a similar attitude to the relocation that you do. If you are cheerful and upbeat, they will react as you do. You can make their job easier, though, by giving them tangibles on which they can focus their energies before, during and after the move.
As one of the premier childcare facilities in St. Augustine, T’s Learning cares for kids who are adjusting best way possible from move! We care for our parents and like helping them be even bigger heroes than they already are and we're here to help out to restore routines after a move!