Whether across the country or just across town, moving is a big adjustment for everyone in the family. Children, in particular, can feel overwhelmed and uprooted because they are rarely in control of the decision to change homes, neighborhoods, or schools. Here are some tips to help you support your kids through the transition.
Talk it over
As early as possible, start preparing your children for the move by letting them know where, when, and why you are making the move. Let them know you understand that this may be scary or upsetting to them, but it is also an exciting and a fun adventure you will all be doing together. Give them the opportunity to talk through their feelings and make sure they know that they have permission to be sad, angry, excited, or scared - sometimes all at the same time!
Take a tour
When house hunting, try to involve your kids in the process as much as possible. This will help them feel a part of the decision. Let them tour possible homes with you and give their opinions. If this is not possible, let them be a part of the decisions after you have it narrowed down to a few contenders. Give them the chance to pick their bedroom and play spaces. Some kids may enjoy decorating or adding new pieces to their room, while others may prefer keeping familiar things from the previous home.
Once the move is complete, it is important to maintain similar routines as the previous house. This will help your kids feel safer in their new environment. Be aware that regression in potty-training, behavior, and sleep are normal for kids to go through when they are experiencing significant transitions in their lives. Try to be consistent and patient while they adjust to their new surroundings.
One of the most positive things about moving is the opportunity to make new friends. Make moving easier by helping your kids meet new people. Host a socially-distanced playdate outdoors (or host post-pandemic), get involved in sports or other activities, take a plate of cookies to your new neighbors, and introduce yourself to other families at the neighborhood park or playground. It can be hard for kids (and parents) to step out of their comfort zone, but once you have made some friends and acquaintances, it is easier to feel at home in a new place. Encourage your children to continue friendships from their previous home as much as possible. Just because there is more distance between friends does not mean the relationship has to end.
Moving is a challenge - not just for kids, but for parents, too. Try to set an example for your kids by acknowledging sad feelings while keeping a positive attitude and embracing your new neighborhood. It can also help to explain to your kids that while the place you live changed, the important things won’t - your family will be together, and you will always love each other no matter where you live.
Sarah is a mom of six children, including triplets.
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