Tips on Moving with Children
Ways to Help Your Children During a Move
Fun Moving Activities, Keeping Them Involved, and More!
Moving can be difficult, for anyone.
If you are moving with kids, even more so. Even for the most rational human being, moving can bring up emotions, situations, problems, and even surprises that no one is expecting.
An eventual move is inevitable for most of us, and in some cases, happens more often than we would like it. In so many ways it can be uncomfortable, but it also can be filled with anticipation, expectation, and joy. Whether you are moving around the corner, to the next city, or across state lines, moving comes with emotions of all kinds. If there are kiddos involved, special care must be taken into account as they will be going through a whole myriad of feelings that you may not be expecting.
There are a few ways, however, to ease the transition for you and your family from place to place.
Decision-Making and Communication
A big key to moving is to not keep children in the dark about the move. Let them in on the process, and if you can, the decision-making. Moving is not always a choice, and may be a necessity no matter how anyone feels. Though you may not be able to include them in the conversation of “to move or not to move,” there are some decisions that you can include them in.
House hunting can be a long process, but it also can be fun too. Include children while looking at homes online, ask them their opinions on different rooms, yards, and house color - no matter what you ask their opinion on - you are including them and making them feel like their opinion is not only valid but important to you as well. Participating in this type of exercise, and engaging in thoughts back and forth with each other, gives your children the opportunity to open up and share things with you or ask questions. They may engage with you by letting you know things that worry them without the pressure of a point-blank conversation about how they feel about moving.
Interested in a house search that gives you all the up-to-date information on homes available in your target area? Set one up here.
While the idea of bringing children (especially young ones) to physically house hunt, you could think about bringing them to your top choices, if you are deciding between one or two. Definitely, if you are able to, bring them to the house once you have decided on one to talk about the positive attributes of a home and why you think it is a good fit for your family.
Moving is a BIG deal, and change, big or small can be SCARY. Even for adults. Children love stability, and when you move, especially long distances, that stability is shaken. Children need to be reassured over and over about upcoming changes that may be both uncomfortable and exciting.
It is important to keep lines of communication open regardless of the process. Ask open-ended questions about the move and try to avoid projecting feelings you THINK they are feeling into a conversation.
If you say to them, “I know you are worried about the move,” a child who at this point isn’t feeling anxious about it, may start thinking to themselves “Should I be worried?”
Ask instead, “What are you looking forward to the most?” followed by, “Is there anything you are unsure of that you would like to talk about?”
Also, showing that you are vulnerable as well can be an important bridge to understanding your child’s emotions. They won’t necessarily feel like they have to put on a “brave face” or hide what they are feeling from you. This gives them permission to open up and share what they are feeling.
You could say, “You know, when we first started thinking about the move, I was a little nervous too. I really like our house a lot and thought we might not find what we were looking for somewhere else. Then I thought about how fun it would be to have a whole new house to make our own, and then I felt a lot better. Have you felt something like that?”
At no time, should you negate or invalidate your child or children's feelings about moving or make them feel like their feelings are wrong. While you may not agree or understand why they feel the way they do, your child is experiencing those feelings.
It is important that you look at moving as a positive experience, instead of a negative one, no matter how you are actually feeling. Children tend to mirror their parents’ feelings when dealing with tough situations. Even as an infant, how the parent reacts to a situation gives a clue as to how the child thinks they should react. When a child falls down as a toddler, if the parent acts scared or immediately reacts when the child hurts themselves, the child then takes a cue from the parent that what just happened was scary and hurtful. If the parents mask their true worried feelings, picking them up instead, and speaking in a pleasant voice instead of a nervous one, the child is less likely to react with tears and worry.
The same can be said for a move. If children hear the adults in their lives being negative about a moving situation, they will be less likely to look for the good in the situation.
Giving children something to look forward to with a move can help ease them into the transition. New bedding, room decorations, the color of their room paint, or something as simple as allowing them to plan where their furniture can go a long way in helping them feel excited about what is to come. If you are planning on painting their room or personal space upon moving in, make this a priority. Giving children a safe space to go that feels like their own in the midst of all the moving chaos is key.
When packing, help them make decisions about what is going on and what will be donated. It is better to allow them an extra box or two, than to make them feel like they are losing out on something by moving.
A great trick to moving, in general, is to buy each child that is moving a special roll of duct tape. They make so many fun patterns and colors. Before packing, have them pick a different one out. The roll for each child should be different and easily identifiable. After packing a box with their belongings and securing it with regular packing tape, put a large piece of this special duct tape on each box of theirs. This will help identify which boxes belong to them immediately as they come out of the car or moving van. By also taping a piece of paper with a piece of tape on the doorframe of the corresponding bedroom of the child, it will help movers know where to put the boxes. (Using a piece of paper to put the tape on instead of directly on the doorway will prevent duct tape residue that you will need to clean up later.)
If there is an extra special item for your child, pack that item separately, and either mark it as “very special” and put into the truck last (so it will be one of the first things out) or bring it with you in the car. Having this special item unpacked as one of the first things will make a new place feel like home. Is there an item that speaks to your child or children that way? Make it important to you as well.
Be sure to also pack a special bag for your children with things to do (for car, hotel, or while you are unpacking), snacks they like, a bathing suit (for hotel pools), and all their basic necessities. Keeping track of one bag is much better than wondering in which box you packed their pajamas on the first night in your new home.
Make It Fun
If you are moving a long distance, and if time and money allow, make your move an adventure. Stop somewhere along the way that is fun for the whole family. Look up some silly or strange sights to see (largest ball of twine, anyone?) and take some pictures. Find out what the area you are passing through is famous for. Do they make the best pizza? Famous for a special dessert? Be sure to make time in your schedule to have some fun. Make your move an adventure instead of just a drive from point A to point B. Not only will your move be more enjoyable, but you will also be making some sweet memories along the way.
If you are moving across town, you can still make it fun. Find an ice cream parlor you haven’t been to close to your new home and take a break from unpacking. Order a pizza from two neighboring pizza parlors, and have a secret ballot on which one is everyone’s favorite. Seek opportunities to make your transition from house to house an event rather than a chore. Don’t be afraid to take time out from unpacking to share moments with your children. The boxes can wait.
It is easy as an adult to be inundated with the logistics of moving. Timelines and deadlines can easily overtake and overshadow the time before, during, and after your move. Stress is inevitable. It is important to not forget that your children are going through different emotions and experiences surrounding this move. As in everything, it is an adjustment. The more you speak with them about it, include them in it, and allow them to feel their feelings the better. A little bit of understanding can go a long way when it comes to something that is so fraught with emotions.
I would love to be a part of your team in getting you from one place to another, I am here to help. Let me know if the kiddos in your family are having a difficult time with your upcoming move. I will do my best to reassure them and make it less stressful for all of you so you can look forward to your new adventure and family life in your new home! My real estate contacts are far and deep, so even if you aren’t moving to the Atlanta/Suwanee area, I can still help you get where you need to go, and connect you with a trusted and experienced realtor wherever you may be headed!
For more information on moving, see my related blog below!
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