It’s happening. Whether through a new job, promotion, divorce, or other life changes, it’s time to move.
Finding the proper moving company and relocation services might just be the easiest part about the moving process. Finding the right home, packing up, and transferring workplaces often drive stress levels to the point where sleeping at night is a restless endeavor.
When children are involved, however, the process becomes a little bit different. After all, kids need routines and familiarity. Change is hard. The event of moving affects children differently than adults, especially older children who’ve already established roots with their environment, friends, and even family.
You can help. The process isn’t just about movers coming in and packing all of the family’s possessions, then unpacking everything into a new home. The process certainly doesn’t end there, either. Moving begins with the decision to move, then continues until your children have adjusted in their new environment. This could be a matter of months, or a matter of years.
Remember, moves are tough on kids. They might lose friends, or need to adjust to a new school and a new curriculum. How can we help our children through this stressful time?
Involve your children in every step of the process. Talk to them, and be honest. Don’t paint a picture that might set your children up for any disappointments. Tell them a story of when you had to move and all the challenges you had to face—something they will be able to relate to.
Let them discuss their feelings. Give them an open, safe space and let them know you’re listening to them. This is especially important for introverted children, who may internalize all their stress, a reaction that you may not notice right away. Extroverted children are more likely to act out aggressively, shouting and slamming doors, so it’s always pivotal to let your children express their thoughts.
Invite your children into the choosing process, if possible. Kids are visual. Show them the homes in question, whether in person or virtually. Take them on a tour of the neighborhoods if you can, and show them the school, parks, or fun places. Ask them what things they liked most about each place you visit.
Encourage your children to help with the move. Give them a mission to complete. From keeping inventory of boxes or helping with the yard sale, there are plenty of tasks they might be interested in doing if it means they know they’re helping. When it comes to organizing their possessions, ask them what they’d like to keep, and what they’d like to donate or sell.
Focus on friends and family before and after the move. Remember that your children’s relationships will continue to be important after the move. Host a party before leaving, and make sure to take pictures. Remember also that video chatting is free from various services over the internet, and plenty of computer games now allow you to play online with friends.
In the end, keeping your children both involved and busy will help them from sliding into depression or anxiety, and in turn help them maintain healthy relationships and grades. You may not notice the little details, especially since the move will be keeping you just as busy, but always remember to make time for your children before anything else.