What You Need to Know About Moving with Kids
Moving with kids is hard. Let's be honest, moving is hard. Despite the obvious hard work of packing up all of your belongings and phyically evacuating a space, moving is an emotional experience as well. Despite the fact that we have always moved for good reasons and we have always found people to hang out with and places to eat pizza, I have always been sad to leave somewhere and go somewhere new. Kids, who wear their rather dramatic emotions on their sleeves, feel the emotions of moving on a bigger and broader scale.
That being said, moving with children is doable. We are embarking on our fourth move with kids this month and have learned a few things along the way. Whether you are moving across town, across the country, or across the ocean I believe there are some universal truths to the process.
When we told our kids we were moving to New York they were estatic...for about an hour. Then my son started crying because he is going to miss his friends and my daughter got annoyed that we weren't moving that day. Kids are going to feel the range of emotions even bigger than the already emotional adults. So how do you help them? Below are some ways we have helped to smooth the process, along with some suggestions from other wonderful blogs.
Give them time to adjust. Sometimes you don't have much warning. When we moved from Wisconsin to Mississippi we had two weeks. Give them as much time as you can to adjust to the idea. I'd say at least a month if you can for younger kids, older children might need a little longer.
There are a few exceptions, like when I abuse the fact that my kids can't read signs yet to reenforce my parenting rules, but in general honesty is best. Don't try to hide the fact that you are moving and don't try to hide the fact that it is hard. Be honest about how you are feeling and allow them to tell you how they are feeling. Children need help processing emotions, not help hiding them. Teach them it is okay to feel sad, wallow in that a little, and then find things to get excited about in your new home.
This is a go-to for me about everything. Books have a way of verbalizing things that we sometimes can't. Books also help to start conversations and give us perspectives we may not have considered.
This is the hardest part for me. I hate goodbyes. It is important for your child to have some closure though. We like to make a list of our favorite places and favorite people. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but make time to spend time in your favorite spots and with your favorite people before you move.
When it gets closer to the actual date, usually about 2 weeks out we make a countdown. In the past we have written our goodbyes on that calendar as well. When everything including the calendar gets packed away the Coundown stays on the fridge until we leave.
Let them help pack their special belongings. Let them help get the house ready to show. Let them tell you what is important to them. My kids were concerned they wouldn't be able to take swimming or play soccer in New York so we added that to our list of things we need to find soon after we move. Involve them in the house hunting process if you can. Even if it is just showing them the area you will be living.
When we move, each kid packs a box to come in our car with us. Mark their boxes in a special way with bright colors or a photo of them. Their favorite toys and loveys go in the box and in the car with us. That way they are safe the whole time. They also get unpacked right away so if the POD gets lost or the moving van doesn't arrive for a week at least they have their teddy bear.
Can they choose a paint color or a new theme for their room? Can they help arrange the furniture? Help them to make their new space their own.
I know how badly you want your kitchen to be functional, but start with your child. Help them feel at home in their room as much as you can. When they go to sleep it helps if they feel safe and surrounded by familiar things. You can eat Chinese take out for an extra meal to make that happen.
Before the move, during the move, and after the move try to keep routines as best as you can. Eat when you normally eat. Sleep when you normally sleep. Play when you play. Believe me I know how hard this is, but try to retain a sense of normalcy. It is also helpful to re-establish weekly routines once you move into your new place. If you are just moving across town this isn't too hard, but in a new city this is very helpful. Find your local library, resume weekly grocery store runs, find them swim lessons or ballet or whatever they love, find a playground to visit in afternoons. I know all you want to do is get everything out of boxes, but slow the process down a bit and help your child feel some normalcy. You need this too. Find times for breaks and important things for you too.
Get to know your new area! Explore. Walk around your new neighborhood. Find a new favorite pizza spot or the best ice cream.
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