Moving can be many things: an adventure, a chance for new opportunities, or a fresh start. When kids are involved a move can also be stressful and anything but fun. Here are some tips for making moving easier for your kids - and the entire family!
- Be confident. Children are amazingly adaptable. Yes, there might (will) be some rough spots during a move, but in time your kids will settle in to their new environment and it will become home!
- Take advantage of technology. Moving is not the quaranteed exile from friends that it once was. Thanks to technology, kids - no matter what age - can easily stay in touch with friends and family they are leaving behind. Phone calls, texting, email, social media and even old-fashioned letters can help your kids maintain relationships with the people who are important to them. Set a good example by making an effort to stay in touch with your own friends and talking to your kids about it.
- Create a fresh palette. Our family moved. A lot. As painful as it sometimes was, one thing my girls always looked forward to was the opportunity to redecorate their new rooms. Yes, buying new comforters and curtains was just one more moving expense, but their excitement in personalizing their space was well worth it.
- Get involved from the beginning. Sitting around moping doesn't do anyone any good. Sign your kids up for activities they enjoy before they even get to the new location. That way they'll have something to look forward to - and so will you! You can research local summer camps, sports leagues and just about everything else online. If you're fortunate to know someone where you're going, ask for recommendations. And don't be shy to tell people you're new to the area. Both you and your kids are likely to make a lot of friends that way.
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- Become a creature of habit. Routine is comforting to kids. As much as you can, stick to family traditions and schedules during the move. If a post-dinner family walk is what you did in the old neighborhood, then be sure to do it in the new neighborhood, too. Establishing new traditions is OK - good even - as long as you blend old and new.
- Move on. Remembering all the things you loved about your previous location is important but so is learning to love the new place. If your kids, or you for that matter, are so wrapped up in what you left behind it will be hard to find the good things about where you are now. Make it a point to explore your new surroundings and let your kids have a say in what you do and see.
- Don't get boxed in. Taking time to help your kids adjust is more important than unpacking all your boxes right away. Do what's necessary to function and get to the rest when you can.
- Watch and Listen. Some kids have more trouble coping with a move than others. The older your kids are the more difficult the move will be - on everyone. Expect some tears, moodiness and anger, but also be on the lookout for signs of depression in your teen or pre-teen, including changes in appetite, withdrawal, a drop in grades, irritablity and mood swings. Of course many of these are also symptoms of their age, so really pay attention and if you think your child needs help adjusting talk to their school counselor, family doctor or pastor. Young children also may have difficulty coping with the move as well as diffculty expressing their anxiety. Signs of trouble in young children include nightmares, separation anxiety, and unruly behavior.
- Stay strong. The more easily you adjust to your new surroundings the more likely your children are to do the same. Help them out by being positive, actively looking for things to like about your new community, and reaching out to find new friends.