Change is challenging to tackle whether you’re 5 or 85. If you’ve moved at least once in your life, then you already know that moving can be a stressful change to navigate. The same is true for your kids. The great news is, there are plenty of great ways to make moving easier for you and your kids. If you’re moving across the country or across town, these tips will help alleviate moving stress for even the littlest member of the family.
Talk About the Move
Communication helps solve a lot of pre-moving jitters. While some experts recommend waiting to talk to your kids until a month before the move (to prevent them from over-processing), others recognize that there is no perfect timing. If you are selling your home, then discuss the move earlier rather than later.
Share with them why you will be moving, but also ask them what they look forward to in a new house or new city. Prepare them for what will be different, but also for what will stay the same—reminding them that their furniture and toys will be moving too. And while it is important to take time to talk about the things you’ll miss, help generate excitement by talking about the things your family is looking forward to as well.
Allow Them to Be Part of the Process
Moving can sometimes make kids feel out of control. The more you invite them into the process, the easier it is for them to feel ownership of the move.
If it is possible, bring them along on some house hunting adventures. Or when you purchase a new home, bring them along for a home tour so they can get an idea of their new room and neighborhood. You can even let them pick a wall color for their new room and help decide where the furniture should go.
As they spend time planning and preparing for their new space, they are less focused on the things they will be leaving behind.
Let Them Pack a Box of Their Favorite Belongings
I remember moving to a new city when I was just three years old. While it may seem too young an age to be impacted by a move, the truth is, I remember some details very distinctly. One of the things my parents chose to do was let me pack my favorite things into a small box that I could take with me in the car. This helped me to know that my most treasured belongings wouldn’t be left behind.
Unfortunately, that box of treasures was, in fact, left behind! It was an accident, but it registered in my three-year-old mind. Kids remember some of the most stunning details, which is why bringing them into the moving process is so important.
To avoid leaving items behind, let your kids decorate the boxes full of their items. This also helps them feel secure that they will be able to find their things when you arrive at the new house.
Say Goodbye to Their Favorite People and Places
Even when you move across town or to a new neighborhood, there are people and places that your kids will no longer see on a daily basis. So whether you’re moving locally or to a new state, intentional goodbyes go a long way in helping your kids feel secure with all of the changes.
Taking cookies and notes to neighbors, meeting friends for a last hurrah at the park, and visiting your kids’ favorite spots around town are all great ways to say goodbye.
There is no perfect timeline for saying goodbye, so don’t hesitate to spend some time with this aspect of moving. A bunch of goodbyes in one week can feel overwhelming (and over with too quickly). By spreading out the goodbyes, you give your kids a chance to enjoy the process. You can even make a “bucket list” of all the things you want to do, places to visit, and people to see before you go. Make it a fun routine to check something off your list each week before you move.
Create a Scrapbook of Fun Memories
Part of saying goodbye can be doing a fun craft. Put your kid(s) in charge of creating a scrapbook with photos and memories of all the activities you do as part of saying goodbye. Take photos of friends, their school, the park, and your moments visiting with neighbors.
Give your kids the supplies they need to put the scrapbook together, or for younger kids, take time to help them collect and paste items into their book. You can even encourage them to leave some empty pages to add photos of their new home, school, and friends after the big move.
Unpack the Kids’ Rooms First
Once in your new home, the sooner your kids feel settled in their rooms, the easier the transition. If at all possible, unpack the kids’ rooms first and get them to help you put toys and furniture in the right spot.
Sometimes unpacking right away isn’t possible in the midst of work, delayed moving trucks, getting the kids established at a new school, and all the other busy and unexpected moments of life. When unpacking gets delayed, make the move an adventure by camping out together in the living room. In this way, the move becomes a shared experience for the entire family.
Maintain Your Routine
Sometimes kids surprise us and handle the changes of moving like champs. Then, a few weeks or even months into the move, they express their built-up emotions in unexpected ways. Often kids struggle to sleep at their new home or find it frustrating that toys and furniture are not in the same place as they once were.
To alleviate some of these post-move jitters, try keeping daily routines the same. If you used to go to the park after school each day, keep that routine going at a park near your new home. Bedtime routines, family game nights, and weekly play dates are all great things to implement into your new home just as you did in your previous space.
For routines that are no longer feasible, consider asking your kids what things they would like to implement into their new life. Come up with some new routines that make sense in your new home and make it part of the adventure of moving.
Read Some Books
Stories remind kids that what they are experiencing is something others have gone through as well. Before and after the move, take time to read some books about moving.
There are plenty of books on moving for all ages. Some of our favorites are The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day, Boomer’s Big Day (moving from the perspective of Boomer the dog), and My Very Exciting, Sorta Scary, Big Move which is actually a workbook for kids that can double as their moving scrapbook!
Enjoy the Process
The most important thing you can do for your kids is to enjoy the process. They are watching how you navigate moving, what you pack and what you give away, and how you say goodbye to your friends and family.
However you choose to make moving work for your family, enjoy the little moments together. This is a time to make memories for yourself as much as for your kids. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and give yourself grace as you and your family adjust to your new home together!