5 Tips to Help Prepare Your Kids for the Big Move
You finally got that big promotion at work, the one you’ve been working towards for years. And in this case, “big” means not only a pay raise, but also a relocation.
Or, your family is growing, with another child on the way and a new pet.
Or, you’ve landed your dream job in another state.
Whatever the reason, life is propelling you to make a big move. Even for adults, moving homes can be overwhelming. For your kids, the prospect of making a big move can be even more intimidating. A new home means new friends, a different school, and a whole lot of uncertainty.
Luckily, moving homes is a process, which means you can work with your kids to make them feel more comfortable before, during, and after the big transition. Let’s take a look at 5 tips to help prepare your kids for the big move.
1. Get Excited Together
You can (and should) share the news of the move in a positive light, highlighting the excitement and inspiration that you feel about it. Let them know that you are looking forward to making this move together as a family- often children may fear that they are being left behind.
Take out a map of where you will be going, share photos of the new home, and point out any landmarks that may pique their interest. The local school, park, Science Museum, beach, or playground can be a reminder that there will be much for your kids to discover in their new home base.
In the months and weeks leading up the big move, you can read about the history and local culture of the place you will be moving. Do some internet research together; getting familiar with your new hometown can be a shared project. That way, you and your kids can learn about your new home together, building up excitement and curiosity before the big day.
2. Acknowledge Their Feelings
Kids are smart, and if there is a big shift approaching in your lives, they will undoubtedly pick up on it. Rather than trying to protect them from the big change, open up the family channels of communication. Call a family meeting and present the big news as early as possible.
Moving homes can be exciting and daunting, a time for both happy and sad feelings. Acknowledge with your children that any feelings that emerge as you prepare to move, and once you’ve landed in your new home, are natural. Validating their emotions is an important way to establish trust with your kids as you embark on a new chapter of life together.
This can be a great opportunity for you to share with your kids as well, letting them know that you also feel a wide range of feelings about moving homes. As you share your feelings about the move, make sure to emphasize that the channels of communication are
indeed open, so your kids know that you are available to help them process any feelings that may come up throughout the process.
It can be helpful to pin a “daily emotions” chart to the wall or fridge as the big move approaches. That way your kids can pick out and identify complex feelings. Giving voice to their experience can help them process the transition.
3. Schedule With Your Kids In Mind
If possible, adjust your moving date to coincide with the annual rhythm of the school calendar. Moving can be disruptive; maintaining a consistent annual schedule can help minimize the disruption. Moving during summer break can give you and your kids time to get acclimated to the new place and do some exploring before school resumes. And it can grant your kids some time to start making new friends in the neighborhood before the first day at a new school.
Help your kids keep track of how distant or close moving day is. Create a prominently displayed family calendar and allow your kids to tick off the days each week. That can help contextualize a looming shift. Or make an art project out of it. Create a custom countdown calendar out of small envelopes or prize cups, like a Moving Day Advent calendar. Then your children can open their calendar cup or envelope each day and receive stickers, small toys, or other prizes. You can even provide prizes that add up to a fun project for the car or airplane, so they have an activity to look forward to during the travel itself.
4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time To Declutter
The more time you give yourself to declutter before the big move, the better. Work with your children to sort through and get rid of excess objects, old toys, clothing that is too small, and any other objects they will not need in your new home. Host a neighborhood yard sale and, if they are old enough, let your children man the stand and keep the proceeds. That can provide a good incentive to let go of their old possessions.
Another potential reward can be the promise of a new room. Work with your kids to map out and design their ideal new bedroom, and then work backwards from there. Which objects and furnishings from their current bedroom will fit in the new design? Which ones not? Use the collaborative creative project of designing a new room together as a boost for clearing out old clutter.
5. Pack Together
For young children, the notion that you will be packing your belongings into boxes, loading them into a truck, and then reclaiming them in a totally new home can be both terrifying and magical. Reassure them by working together to pack up the house. If they feel involved in the process then they will have a better sense of how it will all work out. Plus, the promise of getting to unpack the boxes at the other end can help instill a sense of pride for a job well done- and excited anticipation for the big arrival.
Allow them to pick out a certain number of special items and prized possessions that will travel with you directly. Having a special suitcase for precious items, whether practical or not, can put their minds at ease and provide comfort on moving day. Include special blankets or stuffed animals, their favorite books, snacks, and activities. Moving Day can feel like an exciting adventure; pack up your children’s special suitcase accordingly.
A Fresh Start Together
Moving homes is no small endeavor. Moving with kids is an even bigger deal. From managing practical logistics to addressing emotional shifts and currents, there will be a lot to consider.
As much as possible, work together with your kids to help them prepare for the big move. Let them feel that they are truly a part of the process. Be honest and patient with each other. And share together not only the fears and concerns, but also the excitement and joy that can come with a fresh start.
Guest author: Teresa Bennett. Cover photo courtesy of Bessi at Pixabay.
Reach out to me to discuss your move into or out of Northern Colorado.
James Sack, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
1109 Oak Park Drive | Fort Collins, CO 80525
C: (970) 217-9705 | O: (970) 223-6500 | E: James.Sack@coloradohomes.com | W: www.JamesSack.com