You’ve just announced to your children that you’re moving to a new city and are met with blank faces followed by a variety of reactions. You knew the news was not going be easy to accept, but just how do you turn uncertainty into enthusiasm? From toddler to teenager, moving is not easy on young people. Here are some suggestions to make the transition a little smoother.
Moving is an emotional experience at any age, but it can be particularly unnerving for children. Often, they feel the decision is thrust upon them and that they have no control over their lives. An adult is better able to understand how a career opportunity or a more practical living arrangement will benefit the family overall. Even in extreme situations where adults are unsure about a decision to move, they are able to rationalize, weigh pros and cons and accept it as the right action to take. Children, in some cases, are unable to see any personal benefit in the decision to leave their home, school and friends.
To overcome the unsettling impact of a move, try to encourage open communication and family discussion on the issue. Although the decision to move has been made, allowing children to express displeasure and complain will ease the feeling that they have had little say in the matter. These discussions will also afford you the opportunity to combat any anxiety your children might have, while generating excitement for the move.
Talking and sharing are especially important for preparing younger children whose concerns may easily be set right when you find out what they are. For example, small children may not understand the difference between leaving curtains and light fixtures behind versus leaving their most precious toy. Remind your children about the familiar items that will move with them such as their bed and toys.
Some parents find it helpful to establish a regular block of time each day to ask their children questions and talk about their concerns on issues such as school life, teams and music lessons. As life becomes increasingly hectic approaching moving day, you may appreciate the organization of a daily family meeting and it will provide you with another element of your children’s regular routine that can be continued in your new home.
Involve children in the planning, packing and the move itself. Ask them to make a list of their important belongings, identify what colour they want their new room painted and how they would like to arrange their furniture. Your kids will be happier if they feel like they are making decisions too. Try drawing a floor plan of your new home and spend an evening deciding how your existing furniture will be arranged. This activity encourages the feeling that their ’home’ is coming with them, not being left behind.
Make contacts in your new neighbourhood and check the Internet, local newspaper and community centre for the availability of your children’s favourite activities. Maintaining the extra-curricular activities your youngsters are accustomed to such as scouts, T-ball, or karate lessons will help children to adjust.
Remember enthusiasm is contagious. Talk about all the great features your new neighbourhood has to offer. The zoo, water slide park and roller rink right down the street can make a child forget their worries in a hurry. Discover an activity that would be of particular interest to each of your children.
Most importantly - talk! Once you have arrived in your new home, ask them about the walk to their new school, new friends, teachers, what they miss about their old neighbourhood and anything in between. Although moving always includes a few bumps in the road, following these simple tips might help ease the transition.