Moving isn’t easy for anyone, and that holds especially true for children. A family move to a new home often triggers anxiety for kids, especially when combined with a move to a new school area. How can parents make the transition easier for their kids?
Communicate Your Reasons
Before putting your existing home on the market and beginning the hunt for a new home, explain to your children why your family is considering a move. Even the youngest children can comprehend that a shorter commute for Mom or Dad means more time with the family, or that a larger home could mean that children don’t have to share a bedroom. Give them tangible reasons, and where possible, let them know how they will benefit from the move, to put the move in a positive light.
Don’t Ignore Their Concerns
It’s important that parents encourage children to let them know of any concerns and answer any questions they may have. Be sure to let them know that it’s normal to be nervous about moving and to miss their old home and neighborhood. Recognizing and validating their concerns can make children feel less anxious.
Involve Them in the Process
Just as parents have a dream of their “perfect house”, sometimes children do too! Ask your kids what they would like to see in a new home (a recreation room, a big backyard with a swing, or a short walk to a park) and add these to your list of what you’re looking for in the next home.
Making an offer on a new house can be an emotional roller coaster, and since 1 in 5 offers fail to close (due to financing, inspection, or other conditions after the offer is accepted) consider holding off on showing your kids the new house until all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted. Then request a pre-closing tour of the home so they can visualize where they'll be moving to in the near future.
Don’t De-Clutter Important Kids Stuff
While it can be tempting to throw out or donate the majority of kid items before a move, be cautious that you don’t give away anything that has sentimental value to the children, even if the toy hasn’t been played with in months. Give your children their own boxes to pack up any toys that they think are very important to them, and promise that those boxes will go with them to the new house.
Keeping Neighborhood Ties
Moving to a new home and a new school at the same time can be overwhelming for kids. To make the social transition easier, encourage your kids to get the phone numbers or emails for their 3-5 closest friends, and arrange play dates or outings with the group a couple of weeks after the move. Simply seeing the faces of old friends in their new house can help children bridge the gap between “old home” and “new home”.