Changing homes, schools, and friends can be very stressful for children. That's why Mighty Mommy has come up with 10 tips on how to make this transition smoother and less traumatic for the whole family.
Tip #5: Give Your Kids Their Own Moving Boxes
It’s important for children to feel the move is something that the family is doing together, not something that is being forced upon them. Involving them in as many positive ways as possible will let them know that they are being included and can perhaps lessen the blow of the move. Communicate with them, often, that this move belongs to the entire family, not just to Mom and Dad.
One way to do this is to give them one or two of their own moving boxes. Make sure it is a manageable size that they can carry themselves. You can let them decorate their own boxes and let them label them with their own names signifying that the contents in these boxes will be their own special things—objects that they will be in charge of packing and moving by themselves.
Suggest they include a favorite toy, a cozy blankie, pictures of their best friends etc. Then, let the children carry their boxes out of the old house and into the new one. These boxes remain with the children throughout the actual relocation from one home to the other. Some children keep these boxes for many years afterward.
Tip #6: Getting Comfortable in a New Home
Let your children spend some time making friends with the new house. When you feel they are starting to get comfortable there, play Hide and Seek to discover its best hiding spots together.
During the first few weeks, spend time with the children just walking through the neighborhood. Get to know what and who is where. Help the children draw a simple map of the street you live on and write in for them the names of the neighbors and household pets you meet. This “grounding time” will help them develop a relationship with the new place and the families that live there. Keep looking for opportunities to remind them that they belong with you, in your family, no matter where you live.
Tip #7: Maintain Daily Routines
Routines are very comforting to children (young and old!). Once you make the move to a new home, even if it’s in the same town, don’t get off track from regular family routines. If you always serve dinner at 6pm and then give the kids baths and then read bedtime stories, stick to this schedule in your new home as well. The routines that your kids have become accustomed to in their former home are very comforting, and keeping them in the new one will help ease the transition of new bedrooms, new neighborhoods, and new schools.
Tip #8: Acknowledge Your Children's Feelings
Some kids are very quiet and laid back and won’t share their true feelings about how the move is affecting them. Be patient with your kids and try and empathize with their feelings. Make comments when appropriate such as “You must be feeling lonely and missing your friends from Girl Scouts.”
Acknowledge that the transition is tough for everyone and that you're feeling the challenge too. “Dad and I know it’s not easy making new friends—we’re in the same boat. It’s going to get easier over time, so it’s Ok to feel a little sad and lonely right now. Your family is here for you now, and soon, you’ll have new friends and new activities that you are going to love.”
Let them know that adjusting to a new home, school, and friends doesn’t happen overnight, and that it may take a bit of time. By acknowledging this, you aren’t squashing the real feelings that they are struggling with—you are validating them and this can be a source of comfort.
Tip #9: Reach Out to Your New Neighbors
The custom of your new neighbors dropping by with a welcoming plate of homemade cookies is certainly a nice one, but why not change it up? Instead of waiting for them—bake your family’s favorite brownies or sweet treats and bring a plate to each of the homes close by your new house.
This gesture not only makes you and your family feel good, but it shows your new neighbors that you are happy to be a part of their neighborhood and could certainly help in building some new friendships for your kids (and you!).
Tip #10: Celebrate New Beginnings
Once you’ve made the move, find a special way or ritual to celebrate your new home. Plant a tree as a family or stencil a special quote in the new family room that reminds you all of how special your family is, no matter what city you live in now.
Take a photo of all of your family in front of your new home to send to your friends. Hold a special celebration dinner to say thanks for your family’s new home. Make a list together of some of the places you’d like to visit in the near future, some goals you’d like to have as a family in your new home, or find a new charity you can all spend time contributing to. That in itself is a great way to meet others in your new community.
Do you have any tips for preparing your child to move? Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.