Moving is an exciting and stressful experience, especially so for the youngest members of your family. To make your next move as smooth as possible, consider the special challenges your children will face and head them off before they become problems.
One challenge for children when it comes to moving is a lack of perspective. It is likely you have moved at least once or twice in the course of your life, but for children there is a first time for everything. For young children, a move to a new town might feel more like a move to a new planet. To them, moving represents leaving everything they ever knew behind, which can be a very frightening prospect. If practical, make plans for your children’s friends to come visit you in your new home to show them that they will be able to maintain the best parts of their current life even after the move.
Fear of the unknown is a powerful reality for children and adults alike, so it is important to inform your children of your expectations for the move. If possible, take your children to visit their future neighborhood. If a visit is impractical, share pictures so your children know what to expect. Use age-appropriate language as you discuss which details of their lives will be different, and which will remain constant.
Tell very young children about the move in the form of a story to help them comprehend what will happen. For older children and teens, explain the reasons for your move, and highlight how they will personally benefit. Children need to be heard, so ask them how they feel about the move. Answer their questions and alleviate their concerns in a safe and supportive manner.
Whether your children are babies or teenagers, a family move will feel beyond their control. While it is impractical to have them decide when and where you move, do give your children some aspect of control over the experience. Even something as simple as letting them choose the colors of their bedrooms can help them take ownership of their new home.
Moving is a great disruptor of routine. While adults can cope with the upheaval, children are less resilient. Endeavor to maintain your family’s routine throughout the move. Introduce changes gradually. Maintain established meal and bedtimes, and observe family customs during the transition. The first night in a new home will be easier if your children are sleeping in their own beds with familiar sheets and blankets. If changes are necessary, introduce them one at a time. For example, if your babies will sleep in a pack ‘n play instead of a crib in the new house, introduce the pack ‘n play before the move
Moving demands your time and attention, but remember your children need attention and support as well. Make a point of spending special one-on-one time with each of your children before, during, and after the move.
By anticipating the unique needs of your children beforehand, you will make your move as positive and empowering an experience as possible.