Moving can be both physically and emotionally stressful on a family. Leaving behind familiar activities, places, and friends can create anxiety for the whole family – kids included. However, moving can also be exciting – it may be for a better job, a chance to discover new parts of the world, an opportunity to make new friends, etc…
This article, together with its tips and checklists, has been written to help facilitate moving with children of all ages – preschoolers to teenagers. Because the age of your children can greatly influence their reactions and the extent to which they can be involved, you should also read the article on ‘’Moving with younger children’’ or ‘’Moving with pre-teens and teenagers’’ for tips, checklists and advice pertinent to those age groups.
General advice on moving with children
When the decision to been move has been made, it is important to break the news to the children in a thoughtful way. No matter what the circumstances, the most important way to prepare kids to move is to talk about it. Even if the move means an improvement in family life, kids do not always understand that and may be focused on the frightening aspects of the change.
1. Do not wait to inform your children about moving. Tell your kids about the move as soon as possible!
It is natural to assume that the less time kids have to think about moving, the easier it will be for your children. However, experts say the opposite is true – kids need time to get used to the idea of moving.
2. Provide your children with whatever information you can about the move.
If you are moving across town, take your children to see the new house and explore the new neighborhood.
If you are moving farther, provide as much information as you can about the new home, city, and province (or country). Access the Internet to learn about the community, show them pictures and find out where kids can participate in favorite activities.
3. Welcome your children’s questions about moving.
As with most important decisions, open lines of communication go a long way toward ensuring success. Answer questions completely and truthfully, and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions.
You will probably be surprised. Your children’s questions will likely provide valuable insight into their true feelings about moving. Some questions may also offer an ideal way to get them involved in the moving process, such as suggesting they get online to locate nearby libraries or parks.
4. Be positive and upbeat about the move.
Your attitude will influence your children’s attitude as well. If you are enthusiastic and positive about the move, your children are far more likely to feel the same way.
5. Let your children know they can help with the move.
This is a good time to emphasize that the move is a family event and that everyone will be part of the planning, packing, and perhaps even choosing the new home. Start your kids thinking of things they can do and how to get ready for the move. Assure your kids that their contributions, however small, will be valued and greatly appreciated.
Check out our article on ‘’Settling in advice for the whole family’’ for more ideas in helping your children after the move has taken place.