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Moving with Children

Be open with your kids about the moving process. All kids—from preschoolers to teenagers—need complete, honest, simple explanations of the changes they will experience.

Explain why you're moving, where you're going, where they'll go to school, and how long before the move. Without this kind of information, children are likely to create their own version of the circumstances. Keeping them informed will also make them more understanding of the disruption in their lives. While you may not always have all the answers, promise to investigate your children's questions—and then follow up. Reassure them that you will be there to help them face new challenges.

Encourage your children to talk about their worries. Don't laugh at their concerns or belittle the importance of their questions. While you may not understand why your kids need to know where the dog will sleep in your new home, your children should receive careful, sincere answers to all their questions.

Don’t take it personally if your child has trouble adjusting to the move and blames you for causing it. Explain that parents must make such big decisions for the good of the family.

Focus on the positives: a new home, neighborhood, school and community. Even if the new home is better, it may take some time for your kids to let go of their attachment to the old place.

Allow your kids, especially teenagers, to grieve over leaving friends and favorite places. This, too, shows that you take their concerns seriously. Encourage keeping in touch with friends (e-mail is great for this), rather than ignoring the importance of past relationships. You might help compile a video "memory book" of old friends, and take the kids to visit their favorite places one last time.

Infants and Preschoolers

Moving will be relatively easy for infants and toddlers, who are attached more to caregivers than to places. But children ages 2 to 6 really like life to be predictable. These tips will help ease their transition to a new place:

  • Minimize changes to the child's routine or the addition of new expectations, such as toilet training, weaning, eating new foods or caring for a new pet, until the child is settled in the new environment.
  • Prepare for the move by using fantasy play with your child to act out the moving process with toys and stories.
  • Expect some regressive behaviors, such as thumb-sucking, sleep disturbances or bed-wetting to appear before, during or after the move. These will disappear as your child adjusts to the new home.
  • Encourage your child to pack some of his or her favorite things. Be sure this box travels with the family, not in the moving van, so it arrives with you at your new home.

Other Issues

School-age kids, particularly adolescents, are often quite attached to their friends and their own lifestyles. A major change, like moving, threatens their feelings of control and independence and can trigger strong emotions, and sometimes even behavioral problems.

Talking about uncomfortable feelings can help your child handle them and move through the transition more easily. Older children are capable of assuming a responsible role in the moving process, which helps them feel more in control and offers the family some real support.

Involve your children in decision-making. Ask for ideas, opinions and suggestions—but make sure to do so only when the child truly can have a say in the process. Even if it's as simple as deciding how to arrange the furniture in their new bedrooms, being involved in the process will help your children feel less overwhelmed by all the changes taking place.

Don't send drop them on grandma. You may be tempted to send the kids to Grandma's or another caring relative during the hectic packing and moving process. Though removing the kids may seem like a great solution, it won't necessarily make the process easier for them.

Instead, include the children in the excitement of decorating and arranging their new rooms. Arrange children's rooms first—they'll feel more secure if surrounded by familiar things.

Settling in

As soon as you know you'll be moving, tell your children about the new community. What recreational opportunities exist? If your kids are interested in sports, tell them about the Little League or soccer program. Look into opportunities to continue their music, dance or swimming lessons.

  • Use any contacts you have in the new community through employment, real estate agents, professional organizations and churches to gather information useful to your child.
  • Make contact with club or sports-related organizations to encourage those interests in your family's new community.

Visit the new community with your kids and take time to drive past places they will find interesting and important. If you can't take your children to the new town or home before you move, be sure to bring home photos for them. You may even be able to find library books describing the history of your new town, state or region and the points of interest. This will help them become more enthusiastic about the move and less fearful of the unknown.

Ask your children about the favorite things in their lives—the big backyard, the smell of brownies in the oven after school, taking the dog to the park—and discuss ways to duplicate those things in your new home.

Finally, Try to time your move to coincide with the beginning of a new school year or term. Making new friends is easier when a new session is just starting.

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