A Moving Message for Parents
We all know that moving is stressful. But moving with children is exponentially stressful and difficult. That’s been established a long time ago. For parents, you deal with a lot of things like finding a new place, changing your address, making sure that you are sticking within your budget, etc…
One thing that is easy to forget is that our children (the little people) are going through their own set of problems with regard to the move. They may not seem like big issues to adults, but moving can have a very large impact on your kids.
Changing schools isn’t easy. Making new friends can be scary. So I am writing this post today as a mother.
Recently, my own children and I relocated across town and here are some of the things that helped us along the way. Hopefully all parents will read this before they move with their children to make things a little easier on them.
Did you know that 20 percent of the population will move this year? Kids deal with stress a lot differently than adults do. Children under the age of 4 years old may not be as affected as older children.
We encourage you to get your teens involved to help with the transition for the younger ones if you can. Primarily because teens understand a lot more and the younger kids look up to them and find less fear when their older sibling seems to be okay with things.
One of the first things we recommend is that parents understand and are sensitive to each child’s personality. Stay positive about the move. Show them that it’s a good thing and that it’s going to be fun. Treat it like an adventure or a family vacation.
We know that moving can come with hardships like lost jobs, death, divorce, etc… and kids can feel the effects of these things too. Maintaining a positive attitude is the key in keeping your children calm throughout the moving process.
Present the move as a fun and a rewarding experience. Reiterate that the change is for good things and that your life is going to be so much better in your new home. By encouraging a positive attitude regarding the move, it can also have a positive effect on you about the change despite the difficulties that the adults have to face in the move.
Now let’s talk about the process. Moving is always a process and there are some key steps that can really help you and your family. Some of the things that I am going to break down for you will really help ease everyone in the process.
Breaking the News
Announcing the news to the family that you will be moving can be a very emotional time, especially where teens are concerned, because their social life suddenly floods into their brain and the loss hits them immediately.
Now, it isn’t really necessary for the kids to know all of the details about the move. Some of the in’s and outs may be better left behind some closed doors. We say this because too much information can lead a little brain to being even more overwhelmed about the whole ordeal.
We recommend starting out around the table or comfortable typical family gathering area. Parents should tell the kids about the move as soon as possible to give the kids the time to adjust to the thought of it. Giving them time to let them soak it in will make the transition a lot smoother. The first thing that is going to flood their mind is personal loss.
Focus on the “when”, “where”, “how” and “why” of the moving process. If it’s possible, have photos ready of the new home, new neighborhood and the schools around the area. Parks are also a good idea too so that they kids can have a mental image and it also helps them to understand that they are going to a real place that isn’t really that scary.
Prior to announcing the move, get information on the local recreation centers in your new area, amusement parks, museums, etc… Having this information on hand when you announce your plans to move will really help the kids to see that things may not be so bad on the other end.
Encourage your children to talk about the move. What will they do with their new room? How will they decorate it? Where will they put their items and how will they place the items in their new room? Draw a picture of the new room and have them create ideas on how they want their new room to look. Where will the bed go?
Try to maintain a sense of family unity during the entire move. Allow them to ask as many questions that they need to ask, so that they can feel like they are apart of the decision making process where the move is concerned.
Young children go through all of the same changes as the adults, but how they handle these changes can be vastly different than an adult. Remain claim and understanding during the entire process. Ask them questions and delve deep into their feelings about the move.
Sometimes children can be greatly affected by the loss of losing their room. This room has been a sense of security and comfort for them. Children will often focus on the loss of friends and neighbors as well as playmates. Sometimes the change in schools or the loss of a teacher can play a factor. There are many places where a child’s mind will go that affect adults less. Remember that understanding that these things matter to your child is extremely important.
There are sometimes cases where a child might experience some irritability, headaches and even stomach pains. This can be very normal. Relocation will not physiologically damage your child. Children can adjust in time. Understanding that they are emotional and taking the time to understand why they are so upset can really help to calm them down about the move.
Building up your new home and neighborhood
This is a very important thing that can help the whole family. Take a tour of the new neighborhood. Try to get to know your neighbors, parks, schools and the stores. Do a mini tour to really capture the attention of your children and get them excited about all of the new possibilities.
Remember!! You cannot expect your children to understand all of the reasons for the move. At first, they will concentrate on their own personal losses. They will focus on all the things that make this move undesirable for them. Reactions like this are quite normal.
As an adult, it’s easy to start getting things ready for the move right away. Cleaning the house and tossing out the items that you do not want to move with you. Take into consideration that this is equally as hard on your children. Just as adults can get attached to personal items, so can your kids. So make sure they are making the decisions on what to keep (even if it’s something that they don’t always play with) the comfort of being able to make those choices will help your child to accept the move in a more positive manner.
Encourage your children to spend some time with their friends and say “farewell” and get phone numbers from them so that they can feel like their friends are just a phone call away. Tell them to exchange addresses so they can become “pen-pals” getting letters in the mail for a child is exciting and fun. Stop at the store and get some stamps so your child feels that they have a way to connect with their friends.
Let your children label their own boxes so they can feel like they are apart of the moving process. Let them decide where the moving company will place their items in their new room. Let them unpack their rooms and get them organized.
Now let’s talk about dealing with the “angry child”
Sometimes despite all of your efforts, you may still have a child that isn’t happy about the move. You have tried everything and your child is not adjusting. They may deliberately reject discussions about the move. Children who typically react negatively about a move are hurt. It has affected them deeply.
These kids need reassurance and plenty of hugs as well, but what’s more is that they really need to know from both parents that the move is definitely taking place. Explain in an understanding and positive way that the child should concentrate on the positive aspects of the move.
Also, talk about how things will be different and why and keep those positive aspects at the top of a child’s mind as often as possible.
It can sometimes require making small changes throughout the moving process to implement excitement to a child. In most cases, children can become very excited about a move if their parents and siblings show that they are excited about it.
Here is a checklist that will hopefully help you to remember some of the things that we talked about today. Remember, you can always feel free to contact us if you have additional questions and we will be glad to assist you in any possible way.
Checklist for Moving With Children
- A family meeting in a comfortable place.
- Ongoing family meetings to discuss the progress of the move and resolve problems or complaints.
- Exploring the new place, neighborhood, shops, recreation parks and surrounding area.
- Let children help to sort, pack, unpack and label the items from their rooms.
- Meet the new teachers together if possible.
- Encourage your children to say goodbye, get phone numbers and addresses from their friends prior to leaving.
- Display a positive attitude throughout the entire moving process.
We hope that you will find these tips and hints useful when you are planning a relocation with children in mind.
Additional Moving Resources
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions at all regarding this incident.