by Jillian Cariola
Children are the ones that usually get hit the hardest when a family moves to a new home. Here are some tips on gradually easing your kids into the idea of relocating.
Whether you’re moving to a new house, condo, or apartment, relocating can be an overwhelming decision. What makes it tougher is when you have kids; convincing them to pack up everything and leave their friends behind will be a challenge. There are actually studies showing the psychological effects of moving from home to home on children. Constantly relocating, according to research conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, has a greater adverse effect on children who are introverted as it makes it harder for them to make new friends. This results in difficulty in developing close social relationships, which can follow them into adulthood.
But don’t let this fact hinder you from moving if the decision is inevitable. To make the transition as smooth as possible for your children, there are a few tips that will help them adapt to the impending change.
Gather everyone for a family meeting
Don’t wait until a few weeks before the move to tell your kids. As soon as you feel there’s a chance that you need to relocate (your home purchase is in its final phases, your company is moving you to a different office, your finances require you to downgrade to a more affordable apartment, etc.), get everyone together and make the announcement; this will make sure that they’ll have enough time to process the idea of leaving. Expect that you will feel quite a bit of resistance, especially if you have been living in your current location for a while now, but be understanding of their feelings and explain as best as you can to them why you have to move.
Pay the new place a visit...
To a kid, moving to a new place doesn’t just mean leaving their friends behind, but also being thrust into a new environment, which can be scary. To combat this, take the kids on a trip to see the new place way before moving day. The idea is to help them get used to being in the new surroundings so they won’t see the move as a nerve-racking experience. Give them a tour of the house, show them their bedrooms, point out where the dog will be sleeping, where you can set up a basketball hoop, etc. Also, take them around their new town and show them the best places to visit that are just a few minutes away from the new home, such as community parks, playgrounds, malls, and kid-friendly restaurants. If you can, knock on a few doors and get to meet your future neighbors so there will be a few friendly faces waiting for you when you move in.
...or include them in the search
If you are still in the process of finding a new place to move into, take them with you on property visits. Ask them for feedback on every place you check out; ask them what they like or dislike about a certain place, whether they would be comfortable in living in a condo instead of a house, if they are open to sharing a bedroom, etc. While you don’t have to follow all their wants, do listen to what they have to say. They may not have a say on whether the move should happen, but it could make them feel better if they can share their thoughts on what and where your new dwelling should be. Who knows? They might offer some insight that will actually help you make a decision.
Ask them for help
Most kids feel important when you get them involved in “grown-up” things, so make sure you enlist their help when you’re preparing for the move. Get them to assist you in packing up things, especially their own stuff. When it’s time to clean the new home to get it move-in ready, take them with you and give them tasks they can easily handle (and it wouldn’t hurt to take them out for pizza afterwards as a reward, either). If you are holding a garage sale to get rid of excess things you don’t want to take along, include them in the decision of which of their toys or clothes you can sell. While planning the overall design of the home, ask them for their opinion, especially if it involves the aesthetics of their own bedrooms. When they feel involved in everything that’s going on, they might feel more psyched about the prospect of relocating to a new place.
Hold a going-away party
By far the most painful thing for children about moving is the idea that they’ll be leaving their school and their friends behind. You can help them handle things a lot easier by throwing them a going-away party, where they can invite all of their classmates and friends. Before the party, have your kids write their new address and contact number down on pieces of paper. They can hand these out to their guests and exchange details with them so they can easily keep in touch. This proves to them that while they are physically parting ways, they don’t have to end friendships but can actually keep these and make new ones.
Whether you’ve bought a new house or are moving into a rental condo or apartment, it’s important to keep in mind that it may not be as easy for children to adapt to change as it is for adults. These tips will lessen the chance that they’ll feel sad about leaving, and help them gradually warm up to the idea of moving.