Moving with small kids can be a huge stressor for all family members. As a parent, you must arrange with the property owner, billers, schools, government, and private agencies, while sorting out and packing things.
Between these activities, you’d have to deal with local movers to ask for their rates, vet them, and negotiate when necessary. You must also ensure your kids are prepared for the relocation and are enrolled in a new school.
Everything looks doable on paper, especially if you start early. In reality, though, more work is needed to manage potentially serious issues. Here’s how to minimize the stresses associated with moving, especially for young children.
- Let them know ahead of time
Have a serious conversation with your kids if they’re old enough to understand. It’s important to let your children know why the decision to move was made and how. Allow them to ask questions and provide honest answers.
Additionally, discuss positive things about the move and the new place. For example, the house you’re moving into might have more amenities or a better climate. The schools might be better, or your residence might be closer to a playground, a park, or the mall.
A conversation may not be possible in very young children. Consider getting creative and preparing a book or using toys to explain the concept of relocation. Let them know that things will stay the same or become better to ease their worries.
- Handle negative reactions positively
Being calm and using positive words are keys to developing emotional intelligence in children. These elements are highly useful when dealing with negative emotions associated with relocation.
Instead of asking them to ‘shut it down,’ let them express their frustration or anger. Validate their feelings but offer assurance. Understand that your children are worried about the unknown in the new place. They’re afraid of not making new friends. Ease their fears and worries by offering support and helping them see the silver lining.
- Involve your kids in the moving process
Let them help sort out their things and pack their belongings to give them a sense of control. Offer guidance in choosing the stuff they want to keep, donate or throw away, and ask them to label the boxes.
Similarly, you can ask your kids to pick their new room’s paint color and other design ideas. Let them decide where to place their bed or toys.
- Let them visit the new place
It can be hard for young children to imagine their lives outside their current environment. Make it easier for them by arranging a quick trip to the new place. Take them to a popular tourist destination, whether on the way or within the new location.
Let them experience how living in the community feels by taking them to nice places and allowing them to interact with other children. Visit the playground, park, school, and grocery or toy stores. Doing so enables them to understand why living in the new home is better.
- Give them time to say ‘goodbye’
Adults and children need closure to process grief and sadness better. Saying goodbye also eases anxiety and helps children move on to the next stage in their lives more easily. As such, give them time to visit and spend time with their friends, classmates, and teachers before moving out.
Before leaving, allow them to spend time in their room and memorable home areas. Take photos and consider leaving a note for the new homeowners if your children are up for it.
- Restore normalcy ASAP
According to a study, children need predictability to nurture young minds better. Establishing a routine helps kids feel safe and comfortable. They can adjust better and faster when they experience minimal changes in their new home.
Make sure to unpack in the least amount of time by systematically stacking your boxes. Prioritize arranging the child’s room upon arriving at your new home to give them a sense of normalcy. This also helps the child settle down and get comfortable, even on the first day of the move.
- Help maintain previous connections
Moving on and adjusting to a new place could take longer for children than adults. Allow them to keep in touch with their friends while helping them find new ones. Arrange video calls and keep them engaged with their old hometown buddies now and then. Communicating with their friends allows them to cope naturally and at their own pace.
However, things might not work out, so check for signs of depression in children. Such may be the case when a traumatic event leads to relocation, including a messy divorce or the death of a family member. Seek professional help and build a strong family support system to help them get through it.
Relocation is a life-changing situation. It’s something that young children can’t easily understand, especially since they’re at a stage when they need stability. If you don’t know how to address this, you might face serious challenges long after the big move.
To prevent relocation-related issues, prepare your children well and support them. Validate their feelings and allow them to express their fears or anger, but hold their hand as they go through difficult times and lead them to a promising future.