Your son made the basketball team, your daughter landed the coveted spot on student council, and your twins started grade school. And now you must transfer to another city for work.
Perfect timing, right?
Whether you have to move cross-country or the next city over, leaving behind the comforts of familiarity might be a challenge for your children. But with your help, it’s a challenge they can overcome.
As an attentive parent, you can help your kids avoid the stress of relocation with the following steps.
Don’t break the news of your move the week-or even month-before you move. Let them know the minute you do. Help them understand the reason for the move. If you need to move for work, explain that you want your family to have more financial stability.
Talk them through the pros and cons of moving-don’t downplay the cons. Let them know that relocation is difficult but reiterate the fact that they’ll have a support system in your family.
Ask your children to write down their fears and concerns. Hold a family meeting so they can verbalize their thoughts and express their feelings. Let them talk. Listen. Once they feel they can trust you, they won’t feel as isolated or frustrated.
Lastly, take this opportunity to look up interesting facts about your new home town. Look online and find pictures of different neighborhoods and popular sites. Find local school sites and let them look through the site to find out more about their new school. Call their school before you move to speak with teachers and find out what activities are available for your children.
For some children, packing can be an emotionally stressful event. They’ve become attached to their house, their friends, and their way of life. They don’t want to leave it all behind and travel to the unknown.
In the weeks leading up to your move, ask your children to sort through their items. Invite them to make four different piles:
- Throw away
Once they sort through their belongings, hold a yard sale to sell everything your children threw into the “sell” pile. Let them keep the money. This will be a memorable activity and will take their minds off of your impending move.
If they can’t sell some items, combine those items with the “donate” pile and take everything to a local shelter. Pack the things your children want to keep and then throw away everything your children don’t need.
When packing, label boxes and let your children draw on different boxes to keep them occupied. If you have younger children, give them crayons. If your children are older, ask them to help you label everything to simplify unpacking.
Once you’ve packed your belongings, handed your keys to the new owner, and piled into your van, it’s time to travel to your new destination. To make travel as easy as possible, bring a cooler with snacks and water. Stop every hour or so to let your children run around and use the restroom. Incorporate free, creative road trip games during each leg of your trip:
- Telephone – One child whispers a line (or story) into someone else’s ear. Pass the line along until it reaches every ear in the car. Once the last person hears the line, let them repeat it out loud and see how it’s changed.
- Alphabet game – Let each person race to find every letter of the alphabet (in order) on road signs or license plates. The first person to finish wins.
- Twenty questions – One person thinks of an animal, fruit, vegetable, or other type of food. The other players take turns asking one yes-or-no question (“Does it have a tail?”). After twenty questions, each players gets a chance to make a final guess.
- Restaurant game – Each player chooses one fast food restaurant (McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, or Arby’s). Players earn one point when they spot the restaurant on the side of the road, on exit markers, on signs, or on billboards. After thirty minutes, add up the points. The player with the most points wins.
Also stop for meals between games so your children don’t become too hungry.
Now that you’ve arrived at your new home, it’s time to adjust to your new surroundings. Unpack and help your children try to make new friends. Walk around the neighborhood and introduce yourself. Join local community groups so you and your children can meet new people. Visit your children’s schools to meet teachers and learn about different programs. Do everything you can to help your children become involved in their new school and neighborhood.
If you prepare your children for relocation and let them talk through their feelings, you will give them a chance to ready themselves and face the new challenge.
We understand moving can be hard on children so here at Midwest Moving we provide young children an activity box they can customize and keep their favorite items in.