Moving is stressful. Whether you are being transferred to another city, moving to a bigger house across town, relocating from a divorce, or building a new home it involves significant change to family routines, schedules and daily life patterns. Even desired moves are stressful for families. While it’s exciting it is still a stressor.
The mental and emotional health of children can often get lost in the shuffle of a move as parents have to focus on planning, packing, and the physical move. Helping children adjust during a move is one of the most healthy things a parent can do for their child. Kids have to adjust to new schools, teachers, neighbors, making new friends, routines and schedules.
Out of town moves present even more challenges because you have to establish new doctors, dentists, schools, drug stores and new retail shopping patterns. Out of town moves mean you are going to have to find new auto and home repair professionals, dry cleaners, social, sports and other extracurricular activities for children. Not to mention the mundane but necessary establishment of utilities, mail, banking, etc.
Many adults assume children can make the transition, adapt and adjust without many problems. If children are moving from the only home they’ve ever known it can be daunting. Their world is changing before their very eyes. Many kids have trouble making new friends and while walking into a new school or neighborhood can be exciting, it can make some children nervous, stressed, and even depressed.
Involve Kids in the Search Process
The best thing parents can do is to involve children in the process. Let them be a part of touring prospective neighborhoods and your new home. Ask them what they like or don’t like about potential neighborhoods and homes. As you consider a new place drive by prospective schools, libraries, parks, sports complexes and other places children frequent or enjoy. If your children have a favorite fast food restaurant, find the nearest one and grab a meal, ice cream or something to create a memory. Familiarity is comforting to children.
Once you find your new neighborhood or home, meet your next door neighbors and take your children. Ask about other children in the neighborhood who are the same age as your children. If possible, meet some of them. If school is in session children will have a built-in reservoir to meet new friends. If it is summer, take them to the pool, park, and the neighborhood playground. Walk the neighborhood with them and you will see kids playing and people outside. Children are drawn to other children and there is comfort in seeing other kids in the neighborhood.
One family was moving from South Carolina to Central Florida. Their children were 15 and 9 years old. The family built-in a mini-vacation to Orlando after house hunting in their new town about 40 miles north. A day at SeaWorld allowed them to have fun, decompress and create a memory that made a connection to their new state. You can explore state and municipal parks, restaurants, retail, movie theatres, and get a feel for your new city. Making an early connection with their new town ahead of the physical move will pay dividends when the moving trucks arrive to unload.
Let your children be part of the packing and the physical move. If you are moving locally and make runs to drop off things to your new home before the movers come, take your children with you, again familiarity breeds a sense of comfort. The more they see and experience the new home and neighborhood ahead of the actual move the more comfortable they will be upon moving in.
Moving is a great time to sort through old, or little used toys and stuffed animals. Ask your kids to pick out certain toys after cleaning them to donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Habitat stores, etc. However, make sure you are donating some of your adult stuff too! Make it a family project. Ask children to pack the remaining toys for the move. Even toddlers can help load boxes with toys, towels, sheets, tupperware and clothing. Giving children responsibility in a move furthers their sense of connection.
Pets Get Stressed Too
Pets are creatures of habit and routine. Any move disrupts their established daily routine and surroundings. Talk to your children about it and tell them you want them to help their furry family members adjust. By giving them the responsibility of providing extra care and attention to the family pet(s) you empower them. It can be as simple as extra play time in the yard, at the dog park, more petting and loving, filling water and food bowls during moving week. On moving day when you arrive at the new home stress the importance of them spending much of the day with your pet and helping them adjust to new surroundings..
Older Children and Teens
Talk to your children about the move. Ask them how they feel about moving. Are they worried, if so ask them to share. Answer their questions. If they don’t want to move, allow them to express why and discuss it with them. Create a no judgment environment that gives your children the freedom to discuss any questions or concerns they have. And remember you don’t have to “fix” everything they are experiencing about the move. Just listening and being present is comforting to kids.
Young children are fascinated by trucks, tractors and big rigs. Reputable movers are sensitive to the families they serve. Ask the team if they can show young children the truck before it’s loaded. Insurance liability may limit any access, but even a walk around the truck that’s going to hold their precious possessions is comforting. Many families have their children provide drinks to the movers on moving day serving everything from soft drinks, water to sports drinks. Again, you are helping your children make a connection and be a greater part of your moving experience. You can even have the kids color pictures of the truck and the team to present to them after they unload at the new location.
Being Part of the Move Instead of Being Moved
When children are an active part of any move it creates a sense of ownership, belonging and connection to their new home, city, or neighborhood. Listening to their concerns and involving them early in the process will help eliminate the stress of the move and change. On the day of the move, have a packet of flower seeds, or bulbs and take 10 minutes as a family to plant them in the backyard. When they grow your children will remember that day. Again, you’re helping them make a connection to your new place.
The Moving Gurus have a strong record of safe packing, on-time delivery and they carry 10X’s the required insurance limits of South Carolina law including all three types of coverage. They believe providing “peace of mind” in a move is their mission and calling to all of their customers. Contact us today to discuss your move and how we can help. We will provide our Google and BBB ratings as well as proof of all protection coverages and references of those we have recently served. We take the stress out of moving!