While exciting, moving into a new home can also be a little overwhelming.
When you throw kids into the mix, moving can be stressful for the whole family. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
We asked moving professionals what tips they had for those who are moving with kids. Here’s what they suggested to make the move as stress free as possible for the whole family:
Before the Move
Oftentimes, breaking the news to your kids is the hardest part of the moving process. It’s a good idea to have a game plan in place before it’s time to move.
“Get the kids involved from the very beginning by talking to them about moving and making them part of the decision-making process,” says Mike Glanz, CEO of HireAHelper, an online service designed to make moving easier and more affordable for consumers. “By speaking with kids in advance and giving them the time and place to communicate their hesitations and fears, it will help them prepare for the change.”
From the beginning of the home-search process, you can find ways to include your kids. “Involve them in the home-searching process and teach them about real estate and how the process of buying and selling a home works,” Glanz says. He says that allowing them to be an important part of the “planning committee” can help them gain a sense of importance and will boost their excitement in playing a role in choosing a new home.
Kaly Sullivan, author of Good Move: Strategy and Advice for Your Family’s Relocation, suggests another opportunity to get them involved can be found in the packing process.
When she moved with her sons, Sullivan gave each of them a shoebox-sized “treasure bin” to pack up their favorite items to make the packing process a little easier on them. “Once the box was full, that was it,” she says. “Choices had to be made, but they were their choices.”
Perhaps the worst fear a parent can have when it’s time to move is your child not wanting any part of it.
“If the kids are resistant to moving, then show them what’s positive about their new neighborhood,” Glanz says. “Take them to go explore and help introduce them to neighbors and new friends. … The one-on-one time is important and the kids will start to get more accustomed to their new surroundings.”
If you’re still worried the transition is going to be rough on your kids, set up time with a trusted family counselor.
During the Move
The actual moving process involving a cranky, crying or angsty child is another thought that could add stress to the big move, but you can cut it out easily with a little conversation or activity.
“Keep talking. If your kids seem stressed, try to get to the root of the issue,” Sullivan says. “My son was very anxious and, after much talking, we learned he was stressed about not having enough long-sleeve T-shirts since his new school didn’t have uniforms. … Little things that you may never think of could be causing them anxiety.”
She also has advice for the unpacking process: “If your kids are left underfoot without a task while you’re unpacking, it can become an exercise in frustration. Start delegating jobs to them and you will be surprised at the amount of work they will take on if asked. They are … more willing and able to help more than you might have expected.”
Laura McHolm, an organization, moving and storage expert who co-founded Los Angeles-based NorthStar Moving, suggests allowing kids to arrange their own room while you’re busy with the rest of the house. She advises letting them fill their own backpacks with overnight items and other necessities so they don’t get lost in a packed box during an emergency, give them a digital camera so they can share the move online with their friends or wrap up goodie bags with games, treats or toys that you can use throughout the day to keep them happy and distracted in anticipation.
Safety during moving day is another important thing parents should be concerned about.
“Make sure your children and your pets have new ID bracelets with your cell phone number and new address,” McHolm adds. If your new home has a pool, make sure it has a gate that’s high enough to keep kids out and do some investigating about your neighborhood to ensure you have all the pertinent information to keep your family safe.
After the Move
Even after the move, things can be a little difficult for your children. Leaving old memories, friends and families behind can have devastating effects on a child.
Sullivan suggests video chats and pen pals to help ease this process. “When we first moved, our kids wouldn’t talk on the phone, but they would have playdates with old friends over FaceTime,” Sullivan says. “Within a few months, this happened less and less, but it definitely helped ease the transition.”
Another good idea is to help them prepare for the new school and get acclimated to their new neighborhood. McHolm suggests taking them for a drive by their new school, local ice cream parlor, playground or hobby businesses like a dance studio or karate dojo to help them acclimate to their new home and neighborhood.
If you move at the beginning of summer, take the opportunity to sign the kids up for summer camps or activities so they can meet kids their own age, McHolm says. Doing so can make their first day of school much less intimidating.
And if they’re still worried about their new school, Sullivan suggests taking them on a tour of the inside if possible. “Help them come up with a list of questions to ask as they learn more about the school. The more information they have going in, the more comfortable they will be in their new environment,” she says.
Last, just make their room at the new home a sanctuary that is all their own, Glanz suggests.
“Even when you feel like you have countless other things to do, it is important to make your child’s new room at the top of the to-do list,” he says. “Making him or her feel comfortable in their new room will bring some normalcy and ease some of the anxiety among all of the sudden changes.”
And the more freedom you give them, the better. From paint color, furniture placement, to bedsheets, allowing your kids to make decisions about their new room can help give them independence and a sense of adulthood as they tackle this challenging period in their lives.
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.