We all know that no matter how exciting a move may be, it can also be a very stressful time. It takes weeks, even months of planning to prepare everything, and it can take much more out of your budget that you expect. Consumer Affairs reports that the cost of a move across states can cost up to $5,000. Even if you’re staying a bit more local, the expense of a truck, materials, and movers could still set you back hundreds of dollars.
Despite this, many families move every year to upsize their living arrangements or to be closer to a job. In many cases, moving is necessary to finally secure your dream home with all the space you need to grow as a family. As difficult as it can be for parents, it can be even more difficult for children. It can be hard for kids to leave a place that’s all they’ve known, especially if it takes them away from their school or friends.
When working through a major transition like moving to your forever home, it’s important to check in with your children often to ensure they’re prepared for the change. Here are some ways to help them through this time:
1. Discuss the Move Early
Let your children know as early as possible if you’re planning on moving. Though it can be tempting to avoid a conversation you know they may not like, it’s better to give them as much time as you can to become comfortable with the idea.
Sit your kids down and explain to them why you’re moving, and why it’s good for them and the whole family. Maybe you’re moving from an apartment to a house, with a backyard that means you can finally adopt a dog. Or if you’re moving to be closer to a job, explain to your child the benefits of doing so.
Remember that even if your child is very young, you should open up the discussion to their thoughts and feelings as well. Ask them questions about how the move makes them feel, and check in regularly. Though you’ll want to be empathetic to their negative feelings, you don’t want to focus solely on them. Don’t forget to ask them things they’re most excited about or looking forward to.
To make your life and theirs a little easier, use this printable moving timeline to stay on track. Have your child cross off each day, so they feel involved every step of the way:
2. Enjoy a Story With Them
If this is your child’s first move, it can be helpful to use their reading time to go over a story on moving. This gives them context on what to expect, and can make it easier for them to express themselves about how they’re feeling. On the plus side, it can also demonstrate for them some of the positives of moving as well. This works equally well with TV shows and movies on the subject, too. Here are some great ones to get you started:
- Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move – Judith Viorst
- I Like Where I Am – Jessica Harper
- The Good-Pie Party – Liz Garton Scanlon
- Moving Day! – Jess Stockholm
- Inside Out
- Toy Story
- The Karate Kid
- Max Keeble’s Big Move
3. Familiarize Them With the New Home
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, do what you can to make your new home feel familiar before you move in. If you’re still looking for places to move, it may be a good idea to bring your child to showings to get their input and introduce them to their new space early.
If you already have a place lined up, consider arranging another showing so they can take a closer look at the space or pick out their room. If this isn’t possible, or you’re moving across the country, pictures can work just as well. Let them look through photos of their new home and get their thoughts and opinions.
4. Help Them Feel in Control
Since this can be a scary time, it’s important for children to feel like they have some control in the situation. From their perspective, nearly everything they’ve known is changing, so give them a say in as much as you can. Though they can’t necessarily change the move, they can help you when picking out new decor or paint colors for the house.
Letting them choose and plan their new room is another great way to help them feel in charge of the change. Even if it’s not in the budget to completely redecorate, a different coat of paint or some new DIY decor can be fun options that show your child change can be for the better.
5. Give Them Responsibilities in the Move
Though it may not be their favorite part of the move, having your child pack their own things and prepare their boxes is a good opportunity to get them involved and potentially pare down on those extra toys.
If your child is younger, you can still assign them important tasks during the actual move, like grabbing water bottles for movers and family members, or helping open boxes. It will depend on your child’s age and level of cooperation, but planning out activities can help give them a sense of control and accomplishment in an otherwise hectic time.
Create a week-of to-do list for yourself and your kids to simplify the most stressful time. Even planning ahead things like meals and outfits can save stress — and your budget.
6. Plan For a Few Hiccups
Not everything is going to go perfectly, and that’s completely fine. When moving, it’s natural for plans to go off schedule, stress to rise, and mistakes to be made. Allow yourself the room for a few missteps, and make room in your budget for extra surprise expenses, too.
If you’re working through the financials of the move, it can also be a good time to involve your older children in learning to budget. Simply seeing you work through financial hurdles can set a great example for them in the future.
For your child, take any backslides in stride. Anyone can act a little differently under stress, and children are no exception. Stress in children can manifest in a number of ways, including behaviors that you thought they outgrew. So be patient if your child has a few more tantrums, or becomes especially clingy through the transition.
7. Keep the Simple Things Familiar
In the middle of a crazy move, it can be easy to lose routine, but it’s important to maintain as much consistency as possible. This means continuing family dinners or game nights whenever possible. Though making sure nothing changes may not be feasible, giving your child something to consistently look forward to, like your usual storytime, is important.
This also means you should keep the usual chores and less exciting tasks the same as well. Though you may feel guilty about how your child is feeling, you shouldn’t necessarily spoil them by suddenly allowing them to stay up late, watch more TV, or go to bed without brushing their teeth. More than anything, consistency will help your child stay grounded during this time.
Once you’re in your new home, make an effort to get it feeling familiar sooner rather than later. This means putting up familiar decor, and keeping things like the family couch the same — a great way to save money in your move as well.
8. Throw a Going Away Party
One of the hardest parts of a move for a child can be leaving their friends and school. Thankfully it’s easier than ever, even for young kids, to stay in touch from far away. Ensure your child gets closure on changing schools, and has an opportunity to connect with friends by throwing a going away party.
Not only can this be a great time to make lasting happy memories, it’s an efficient way to establish contact points for the friends your child wants to stay in touch with. You don’t have to spend a ton to make this time worthwhile. Ultimately, the most important part will be the memories your children make with their friends.
Capture these moments forever by having guests sign a sheet and leave messages:
9. Make Time for Adventures
Once you’re in your new home and neighborhood, take a break from unpacking or organizing to explore the area. Make a point to cultivate positive experiences like a spontaneous lunch out. You don’t have to spend money to go on an adventure, either. Just taking a trip to the nearest neighborhood park can be a great way to help your child feel more connected to their new home.
Since your home is new, many adventures can be had within your house. Take an adventurous spirit into your new space, and let the home inspire play. Get the whole family involved in a game of hide and seek or tag in the backyard.
10. Help Your Child Put Down New Roots
Once in a new home and school, it can be challenging for your child to make new friends and adjust to their teachers. Help them where you can to get to know their teachers and make friends.
If you can, it may be helpful to meet their teachers and introduce them to start them off right. Let their teachers know they’re new to the area, and might need help adjusting. If at a parent-teacher night, you can also mingle with other parents and introduce your child to other children at school.
It may also be helpful to sign your child up for extracurricular activities or clubs that will help them do something they enjoy, and meet children of their own age.
Though the road to your new house will likely have a number of bumps along the way, it can be a great opportunity to reconnect with your family and spend free, quality time with each other. As long as you anticipate hiccups and expenses along the way, you can avoid major setbacks or going into debt. To help your child transition, simply being there for them and checking in with them will go a long way towards helping them through the move.