Summertime is the best moving time for a lot of American families, and while moving may be exciting for adults, it can be downright traumatic for the kids. In the midst of preparations, packing, looking for a new house, often parents forget that special care must be taken with their children to ease the transition. Following are some tips to help make your move with kids as smooth as possible.
Before the move
l Attitude is everything. Even if you are less than thrilled to be moving (if your spouse has been transferred to someplace you swore you’d never live, for instance), you must project a positive attitude to your kids. They will pick up on whatever signals you send and act accordingly.
l Manage your stress level. You will be stressed out, of course. But you must concentrate on getting enough rest, proper nutrition and exercise during the transition so that you will be able to handle the stress in a healthy way and be available to your children.
l Reassure your kids that they will not lose contact with their friends. This is especially critical for pre-teens and teens. Buy a special address book so your child can gather addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
l If possible, bring your kids along when you look at houses so they feel involved in the process. This will help them to accept that the family will be moving.
l If you're moving to another part of the state or to a different state, get out the atlas and show your child where you'll be moving. Put together information on climate, topography, local attractions and land features (mountains, ocean, lakes), historical data. Get on the web site of your destination and look at it together.
l Gather information on the sports or other extra-curricular activities that interest your child so you know how and when to sign up. For older children involved in high school sports, look at area newspapers to read up on the teams' activities.
l Encourage your child to take part in the moving process as much as possible. Younger children can help pack their favorite belongings themselves to help them realize that although the family will be in a new home, their stuff will stay with them.
l Before you move, hold a going-away party for your child. Encourage your child to keep contact with his or her old friends while encouraging new friendships.
l Put together a scrapbook/photo album of the old house, with a journal recording special memories—holiday gatherings, favorite spots in the house, etc.
l Before you leave, let each child say goodbye to the old house in their own way. Provide them with the closure they need so that they can move on.
When you arrive
l Keep to a routine. Have dinner the same time each night and make sure the kids are in bed at a specific time. While difficult in the midst of unpacking and other moving-in chores, it’s crucial to settling the kids in as soon as possible.
l Be consistent with discipline. Don’t let misbehavior slide just because you’re too tired and stressed out to deal with issues. The sooner you establish that this home is just like the old one, the better.
l Take your child to visit his or her new school and arrange to meet the teachers.
l Supply your children with several copies of your new address and phone number.
l When you move into your new home, begin a new keepsake and encourage your child to write about his or her hopes and expectations at the new home.