My Own Experience
In 1997, my family and I moved from Monroeville, PA to Plano, TX. I vaguely remember my parents sitting all of us down at the kitchen table, and telling us we were going to move. I remember being shocked because the majority of the family I knew lived within driving distance from us. I remember we always had family get-togethers at our home to celebrate birthdays and holidays. I was very sad because I would be leaving my best friend at the time. However, I had no choice. I was a child, and my parents made the decision.
I currently do not have children, but I still felt called to write about moving with children. So, I asked for help! Many of my friends and clients chose to share their experience. I am so thankful for these special people who took the time to share their experience with me, so I can share with you! Here some ideas to consider from my friends and clients, in regards to moving with children.
Prepare kids for what to expect. Young children may not have a good understanding of what the term moving really means. Explain to them what will happen and take some time to read some age-appropriate books about moving together. A book that was highly suggested about moving was Bernstein Bears. This especially goes for older children. The process of moving can be very stressful for kids. They are moving away from friends, school, and in some cases family. So, involving them in the moving process from the start can help them prepare and transition more easily. Begin to talk about moving to the new house several weeks beforehand.
Children have more comfortability with just about anything when it is talked about a lot. Talk to your kids about your new home, neighborhood, school, playgrounds etc. Show them pictures of all the new things they will experience in their new home/town. The more they know, the more comfortable they will be which equates to an easier transition. Show them their new neighborhood. Is there a park or pool nearby? Do you know anyone on the street? All in all, it can be a very exciting time for the family!
Make Kids Part of The Process
It helps to allow children to “help” in choosing the new home. Children need to feel like their opinions matter. Having them express their likes and dislikes allows them to be more involved. Ultimately, the parents will choose the home that most suits the family needs. When the whole family is involved, It can make the move feel more like an adventure! Some of the ways you can involve your children is by praying that you find the home that is meant for your family. Another way is to ask your children questions. Should we get a house with a pool? Should we get a two-story house? Should we get a big backyard?
However, only look at houses with your children that you are willing to seriously consider. For example, not having a pool at your home could be one of your non-negotiables. So, while you are house hunting with your family, a house that had a pool would not be a good idea.
Organize and Design
An easy way to make things NEW and exciting for them, is allowing children to pick their room and decorate it how they want! Help them design their room. If older, maybe the move means a transition from a little kid room to a teenager room. Let them choose paint color, a new comforter for their bed, some wall décor, etc…This allows children to get the sense of a fresh start. If they are not old enough, add some element of choice in a decision.
Keep Routine Best You Can
Kids are very resilient, however keeping a routine is important. Due to this big change, try to keep other aspects of life unchanged. If you have family movie night every Friday, be sure to keep that going. In order to help with the change and to make your children feel good in their new home, keep traditions alive, whether they be big or small. Sometimes circumstances dictate when you have to move. But if you have a choice try to time your move so that it occurs at a relatively calm time your child’s life. Take school schedules into consideration. Avoid moving when other big changes like potty training or sleeping transitions. Some parents move in the summer when kids are out of school.
Declutter The Home
Through decluttering, some parents discovered that kids don’t need a million toys. Maybe instead of toys, children play with kitchen utensils, and help cook; or garden utensils, and play outside! Use the moving opportunity to purge any old toys, clothes, furniture in a garage sale so you aren’t moving things they don’t need. Use this opportunity to downsize/retire toy collections/play equipment.
When it comes time to start packing, have children help with this process. This gives them time to reflect as they are packing and gives the parents quality time with the kids to talk about the new home or the exciting things the new town has to offer. Parents can talk about the new schooling opportunities the kids will have, etc... Moving can be very difficult for kids, so finding ways to have one on one time with the children can help eliminate stress or anxiety. Let your children help you pack some of their personal belongings. Even at a young age, kids can sort of toys and help you wrap objects and tissue or in bubble wrap. If you’re putting some things in the storage ask them what they would like to keep, and what they don’t mind parting with a little while.
Let them decorate the boxes that would hold their stuff. Kids will be able to recognize their boxes more easily. Let them be part of packing up their own room. This way, they will know where their items are going, and allow them to take ownership in their belongings. Having a bag packed with everything your child needs the first night is helpful. Some items could be new home pajamas, special blanket/stuffed animal, medicine, night light, favorite bed sheets, and an outfit for the next day. Also, move in with a basket of paper goods for the kitchen - and it feels like a picnic the first couple of days and no worries with dirty dishes.
What to Set Up First?
Get beds and kitchen set up first. This way, everyone has a place to sleep at night and a place to celebrate with your first meal. Having children set up their bedroom first with their toys can also make them feel at home.
If moving in town, find a friend/family member/ babysitter to watch them while you do the physical moving so they don’t get anxious. Maybe also the day before moving day. It can be helpful knowing that children are having a good time, while you can focus on getting the home ready. Some parents also sent children to grandparents for the weekend.
Let Kids Help!
By nature, children love to help. Give them an easy task that will keep them busy so that adults can do the heavy lifting. Even the smallest task can make a difference in their feelings towards their new home. Having the kids help place their things and organize toys and clothes with you is so fun too because they get to choose how to organize their stuff. This helps develop their voice, opinions, ownership, and self-definition.
This gives your kids an opportunity to say goodbye to people who matter to do most children. Children love a celebration and this can be a great way to turn to move into a positive exciting experience.
The Most Important
Don’t forget you have to take the kids with you!
After sitting around the table, I still remember my father telling me that I would be riding a horse to school! I was nervous because I had no Idea what to expect moving to Texas. In the end, moving to Texas was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was welcomed by endless opportunities, fantastic education, and lifelong relationships.