If you think moving is hard on adults, imagine what it’s like for children. They’re starting over and trying to meet new friends while getting used to a new home, neighborhood, and school. Think about your children’s specific needs before, during, and after the transition and you’ll make a big difference in how your children feel about the move and how they adjust afterwards.
Before the Move: Preparing
Give your children a chance to express their feelings, and be honest about your own feelings. Children who have a chance to express themselves work through their doubts more easily.
Help children compile a list of phone numbers and addresses of friends, relatives, and other important people. Knowing they can stay in touch with these people will be reassuring.
Take your children to your new home before you move and explore the new neighborhood and town or city together.
Try to line up some activities in which your child can participate after the move: a sports team, music lessons, or a scouting troupe. Not only will activities like these keep your children involved but they will help the kids feel like part of a group.
During the Move: Remembering What’s Important
Stay as upbeat and calm as you can. Your own mood will impact your children’s moods.
Involve your children in the packing. Older children can put their own belongings in boxes, and children of all ages will enjoy decorating the boxes containing their things.
Stick to your routines. Have meals at the same times you normally do.
Don’t pack things that your children treasure. Take special blankets, favorite books, and other prized items in the car or on the plane with you.
Help your children say goodbye to the important people in their lives. For their friends, a party is a fun way to celebrate the friendship.
For many families, moving day means a long car trip or cross-country flight. Prevent backseat blues and airline angst by adding travel fun and games to your plans.
Allow you child to bring an album with pictures of their old home and friends. This will allow them to express their feelings and provide you with a chance to reassure your child that it is natural to feel loss and initial discomfort with such a big change.
After the Move: Getting Settled
To make your new home seem more like home, hang your child’s or family portrait in a prominent location or create a tabletop display of family photographs.
Take pictures of the new home, neighborhood playmates, family members, and school. Start a new family album to show there is fun and family togetherness available at the new home.
Don’t spend too much time unpacking–at least not right away! In the first few days, take time to enjoy your new home with your family. Take walks and check out local restaurants.
Above all, listen. Be there when your children get home after the first day at their new schools, even if it means having to leave work early. Ask often how things are going, and take time to listen when they talk.