Moving can be stressful for the whole family, especially for kids who often feel powerless and rarely have a say in the decision. Here are 10 tips to help minimize the stress and prepare kids (and even teens and adults) for a move:
Acknowledge their emotions: Recognize that leaving their current home, friends, school, and familiar places can be a loss for kids. Allow them to grieve and go through the stages of grief without pressuring them to be cheerful.
Involve them in the process: Inform your kids as soon as you consider a move. Share the reasons behind the decision and involve them in decision-making when appropriate. Provide a timeline of the moving process and share important details like selling the house, visiting the new location, packing, new schools, etc.
Empower them with choices: Since kids often feel powerless during a move, give them opportunities to make decisions. Let them choose which toys to keep out, their bedroom or paint colour, suggest names for the new house, participate in realtor interviews, and contribute to the list of “must-haves” in the new house.
Consider counselling: Seek counselling before any crisis arises. A session or two with a counsellor during the moving process can serve as a preventive measure and make it easier for kids to accept professional help if needed later on.
Lead by example: Show your kids how you plan to adapt to the move and make new friends. Be open about your own conflicting feelings. Demonstrating resilience and a positive attitude will inspire them to do the same.
Connect in advance: Don’t wait until the move to start building connections. Explore similar activities and communities in the new location, such as Scouts, martial arts, music lessons, religious groups, children’s museums, etc. Use social media to find like-minded parents and seek recommendations.
Create memories: Help your kids create lasting memories of their current home and surroundings. Make lists of things they love about living there, create photo albums of favourite places, and consider leaving a video for the next family about the wonders and secrets of your home and neighbourhood.
Foster continued friendships: Leverage technology to maintain friendships with faraway friends. Schedule regular communication through platforms like Messenger, Google Hangouts, texting, or phone calls to help kids feel more in control and less anxious.
Involve them in organizing: Let kids participate in organizing the move. They can search for moving organization tips and be actively involved in the process. Giving them a sense of responsibility can make the whole experience more enjoyable.
Plan the moving day: Decide whether the kids should be present when the movers arrive. There is no right answer—some may find it helpful to see the house empty, while others may feel overwhelmed. Arrange for an off-site babysitter if needed and plan engaging activities for the kids who do stay, such as managing a checklist or helping with cleaning.
Remember to take care of yourself during the move as well. Best wishes for a smooth transition and happiness in your new home!