If you thought moving was stressful for you as an adult, imagine how disconcerting it is for kids. While you need to worry about the logistics of moving from hiring a professional moving service to signing the lease and so on, your kids have to deal with this monumental change of leaving their home. It’s overwhelming even at the best of times, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
Tell Them in Advance
From an adult’s point of view, a child might seem to live a stress-free life. After all, they don’t have to worry about going to work or bills. However, children have very little control over a lot of their lives and if you have to move due to work or other circumstances, your kids have little say in the matter. Rather than wait until the last minute to inform them of the move, prepare them in advance. A month or two in advance is generally a good timeframe as it gives kids time to process the information without worrying about all of the upcoming changes. Of course, it’s not always possible to give them this kind of advance notice, but let them know as soon as you can.
When explaining the move, don’t just focus on the changes. Children like routine and changes to that routine can be scary. Instead, focus on the things that will stay the same such as the items in their room, school (if that’s the case) and so on to reduce their anxiety.
In addition, with all of these upcoming changes – packing, moving, etc – make sure to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Eat dinner at the same time, read them a bed time story, etc. This will help your kids feel normal and more in control.
Get Them Involved
Everyone feels better when they’re part of the planning process and kids are no exception. Rather than making all the decisions yourself, include the kids. It lets them feel like their input matters, thus reducing their overall stress levels.
So how do you get them involved? If you haven’t already picked out an apartment then now is the time to create a family wish list and make sure you can meet at least one of your kid’s wishes whether that’s a backyard, bigger bedroom or near a cool playground. When you take your children’s opinions into consideration they’ll be excited for the move as they can look forward to something.
When it comes to the actual packing part, it’s probably a better idea to handle that portion yourself as you’ll pack better and faster than your child. With that said, you can still involve them in other ways such as sweeping their room, packing a box of toys and so on. It’ll keep them active and engaged.
Let Them Plan Their Room
If your kids are old enough, let them come up with ideas on how to decorate their room. Giving them too much choice might be a bit overwhelming, so instead present them with a 2-3 choices. For example, when choosing the room color, offer a couple you know they like. It might make the process a bit longer, but ultimately they’ll be more comfortable with the move and might even like their new room better than their old one.
For older kids, you can even let them choose how to organize their room and let them really layout their bedroom to their liking. If they seem a bit overwhelmed, help them out and give some suggestions on how you’re laying out your room.
Let Them Say Goodbye
Even if you’re moving within NYC going from one neighborhood to another means leaving behind all of the familiar people and places your kids have come to know and love. It’s natural for them to be sad, so allow them to be a little sad, but also encourage them to channel sadness in more productive ways. You can do this by:
- Having your child create a book of memories of your old house and neighborhood. It’s a great way to revisit their favorite places and remember the good times. At the end, make sure to include a picture of the new house or apartment.
- Come up with a plan to stay in touch with friends or other loved ones that your children have become attached to whether that’s skype calls, phone calls or even a play date. Thanks to technology, goodbye doesn’t mean goodbye forever.
- If you’re moving schools, make sure your kids are able to have a goodbye party with their friends before you move.
- Plan some extra time the day of the move to let your child walk through the apartment and say goodbye to each room. It might seem silly, but it’s a great way to get them to embrace the change.
Expect All the Feels
Even after following these steps chances you’ll probably have to deal with tears and maybe even some fear, and that’s completely normal. For your child, their whole world is changing! So make sure you talk with them calmly and try to assuage the fears and sadness as best you can. With that said, allow them to express their emotions. More importantly, be there for them and let them know that you understand what they’re going through.
At the same time, make sure that you set a good example for you children by controlling your own emotions. Moving can be extremely frustrating for adults and it’s easy to lose control of your emotions every now and again. However, it’s best to stay as calm and collected as possible. This will set a good example for your kids and if they see that you have everything under control, they will be less likely to have outbursts. Hopefully after following these tips you can not only reduce your kids’ stress, but your own as well. The biggest tip, however, is to take some time during your move to have some fun. You and your family will be much more relaxed and energized.