Moving is the 7th most stressful life event according to Thrive Global. For children, moving can feel even more stressful because it is often not their choice, and they will leave behind everything they are familiar with in their young lives. Using the tips below, you can help them to manage their stress and better prepare them for the move.
- Listen to their feelings. This one might seem obvious, but truly allow them to sit with whatever they’re feeling when it comes to the loss of their childhood home, school, friends, teams, and more. Don’t ask them to be cheerful, instead ask them about their concerns and help strategize with how you can help them tackle what they are worried about.
- Try to prepare them early on. As soon as you are seriously considering a move, discuss it openly with your children. Sharing the moving process with your child(ren) will help them to better understand what is happening and why. It also allows them a sense of agency over this big life adjustment. Let them know about when the house will be up for sale, allow them to visit the new home prior to moving day if possible, and help them to set up a packing schedule with you. Let them know about their new school, and if there are new teams/sports/clubs available in their new town. Ask about things they are excited to do in the new area and try to fit in time for making new fun memories in your new city.
- Let them make as many choices as possible. Kids can feel very powerless during a move. Allowing them to make small decisions such as how their toys will be packed, or how they want to decorate their new room can help them adjust easier to the changes around them.
- Be a good role model. Kids learn more by watching what you do than they do hearing what you say, so it is important to lead by example. If you can stay calm, positive, and excited about the move, it is more likely that your child will start to feel that way too. Share with them what you are excited to do in your new area and get them excited by it too!
- Try to connect in advance. Groups such as scouts, martial arts, art classes, music classes, dance classes, and sports teams can all be great ways for children to start planting roots and making friends in their new town. Social media can help you to find parent groups in the area. Feel free to introduce yourself and ask for recommendations on favorite family-oriented activities in the area.
- Make memories before leaving. Letting children take pictures or videos in their old home, of friends, and of their favorite people, places, and things they’ll be leaving behind can help them feel like they are taking a part of these things with them to the new location, rather than leaving them behind forever. Make a list of the top ten things you will miss about your current home and try to make memories with them before you go.
- Give them an outlet. Providing your child with a journal, sketchpad, or coloring book can help them to express themselves as they navigate both positive and negative feelings throughout this big life change.
- Encourage them to hold on to their current friendships. Just because you are moving away, does not mean your child has to lose all their closest friends! It is easier than ever to stay in touch these days with video chats, texting, and phone calls. Schedule time with other parents for your child to connect with friends, so they can keep in touch and give each other updates throughout the move process. This can help your child feel connected to those they already have familiar connections with.
- Plan for moving day! Whether your children will be present when the moving trucks arrive is something to consider prior to the day of. If they will be present, how will you ask them to help/stay out of the way? Can they help clean? Or check things off a list? If they will be with a babysitter, how will they be entertained while you are dealing with moving? Making a plan is important for everyone involved!
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