The stress that moving can put on an individual or family is well known. But different family members experience different kinds and different levels of stress. Take children for example; they don't need to worry about the mortgage on the new home or hiring a moving company, but they have their own set of problems - new school, new friends, and new routines. The stress on your children only increases as they get older when their social lives become the most important things to them. Move your 15 year old away from his friends and girlfriend and you may find yourself on the wrong side of a very difficult situation. Here are some tips to help with moving your children so you can minimize the potential tantrums a parent such as yourself wants to desperately avoid:
- The Talk: Explain clearly to your children the need for this move. You may have one or many reasons, but explaining it clearly to your children will make it easier for them to come to terms with. Whether its financial, marital, medical, or a combination of those and other reasons, make your logic known to your kids. If they see it's a "necessity", they will have an easier time accepting the transition. Be as truthful as possible and try to answer all of their questions as fully as possible. Allow your children to be part of the process by showing them all that the new location has to offer (it would pay to do some research before you speak with them so you can point out some of the benefits that apply specifically to your kids).
- The Move: Another way to help your child's moving experience be more gratifying (if they are old enough) is to let them design/set up their new room. They may have to leave a familiar life behind, but you can empower them to take control of their new life by customizing their room to their liking. This doesn't mean allowing them to add a bounce house or trampoline in their room, but something as simple as getting a new lamp/new bed/new desk etc. can go a long way. Additionally, allowing them design the room in the sense of wall color, carpet or no carpet, and other aesthetics can help them feel in control.
- The Days After: Help your children get involved (if they are interested) in local social groups (i.e. The scouts, YMCA, a gym etc.) to help them meet new people and get acclimated to the local society. Just as important is helping them stay in touch with old friends by making sure they have access to the proper communication devices (cell phone/regular phone and email) while also allowing for personal visits.
Here are some additional tips that are age group specific:
Toddlers & Preschoolers:
- When talking about the move, make your explanations clear and simple. You can even use a story or toys to help with your explanation.
- Make sure your kids know that when you are packing their toys that they are not being thrown away.
- Keep things familiar by keeping their old bedroom furniture and decorations for the new home. Additionally, don't make any big changes that could be interrupted by the move, such as potty training.
- While these children may be more willing to move than their older counterparts, make the experience easier by moving at the right time of the year. Moving in the summer may be the best so the move doesn’t interrupt with the school year, which to your children would feel like a major interruption in their lives.
- Your teen children are likely worrying the most about their social life. They've put a lot of time and effort with fitting into a comfortable niche of friends. They may even be involved in a budding relationship which then becomes the new center of their universe. So when it comes time to talk about the move, don't give potentially false reassurances ("It won't be so bad") because to them the move may be the worst thing in the world. Listen to their concerns and be prepared with talking points about the benefits of the move.
- Allow your teen access to their friends with social visits "back home" as well as visits for bigger occasions like prom or homecoming.
- If you move in the middle of the school year, you may want to let an older teen stay with a relative or friend so they don't feel ripped away from their carefully cultivated life.