By Brandi M. Seals
People move all the time. They move to be closer to work, to upgrade to a larger home, or for a number of different reasons. While the move may be beneficial, it often does not seem that way for kids. They may be leaving the only home they have ever known and venturing into uncharted territory. Moves can create a lot of anxiety and stress, so try to be understanding of your kids needs.
When you decide to move, the first thing you should do is discuss it with the kids. Prepare them for what is about to happen. Tell them where you want to move to, if they will be going to a new school, and when they can expect to move. Always answer your kid's questions about the move. Explain why you are moving and try to emphasize that although they will miss their friends, they will make new friends and be happy where they are going.
Never trivialize their fears. It can be easy to brush off your child's anxiety about going to a new school by saying that everything will be okay. Instead, to reassure your kid, offer to have friends from his or her old school over for a visit. If that is not possible because you are moving long distance, remind your children that pen pals make for great friends and that they should keep in touch with their friends.
Be prepared that your child may not fully understand what moving means or that he or she may not ever be truly onboard with the decision. Regardless, it is your job to get the kids excited about what possibilities lay ahead at the new place. Maybe they no longer have to share a room with a sibling. Maybe they will live by a big park. Pick a positive and get your kids excited. If they are at least looking forward to something, they are not as apt to hold on so tightly to the past.
If you will be doing a little decorating at the new place, why not get the kids involved. Have them pick out the colors for their rooms (with a little guidance from you of course). If new comforters and curtains must be purchased for their rooms, take the kids along. They will gladly give you an opinion. A reluctant child might just turn things around if she knows that a brand new beautiful room will be waiting for her on the other end.
Kids can help pack up the family belongings. Just do not assign them to fragile items unless they are old enough to pack them correctly. Have your kids pack up their own rooms. That way they will know where everything is. Be sure to check up on them to see if they have gotten everything. And regardless of how long the trip to the new house is, allow your kids to keep out a toy or something familiar to take with them. It may help to have something they love out in the open for them to see and to touch. It will also help distract them on the car ride over.
If you are able to, it might be a good idea to set up your children's rooms first. Do not unpack for them unless they are too young to help out. But get the bed in place and have it made. Since moving is so disruptive and unorganized, having one completed and organized room might help relieve a child's anxiety. For most kids, this move is their first and they do not know what to expect. Try to keep that in mind.
When you get to the new home, have your kids work exclusively in their own rooms until they are unpacked. Kids will feel safer and more relaxed once all of their stuff is settled.
If they are too young to unpack themselves, feel free to make their rooms a priority. New places can be scary at night when they are filled with boxes and unusual items. Avoid this by keeping the rooms clear of clutter.
If the kids get scared by their new surroundings, try having a giant slumber party in a bedroom or living room. That first night will be the toughest. Having a parent close by that first night will help some kids adjust to the new arrangement.