Moving away from your home and neighborhood can be a fun and exciting time as you imagine the new and endless possibilities that await you in your new location. However, for children, it can be a time of fear, anxiousness and even anger as they leave behind their friends and familiar surroundings where they’ve made so many memories. Just as you’ll have to learn the ins and outs of your new neighborhood, where you should shop, the fastest route to school, etc. your children will also have a lot to learn about their new home, while grieving the loss of the familiar.
As young children will experience and react to a move differently than older children, it’s important to handle this life transition with these age groups accordingly.
Tips for young children (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers)
Demonstrate what moving means through books, stories, and pictures. Let them see ahead of time that packing up a home means putting belongings in boxes but also that it means unpacking the boxes in the new home. This can help to reassure them they will see their beloved stuffed animals again!
Visit your new place, if possible. Let your children see the house they’ll be moving to and visit the neighborhood park. Most importantly, show them the benefits of their new town that speak to them on their level – a new ice cream shop, the best place to get donuts and especially the children’s section of the library. While you may have many reasons for moving that are more important than where you’ll be getting pizza on Friday night, children need to get excited for the
Unpack their rooms first. Make these boxes the last on the moving truck and the first off. By making your children’s bedrooms the first priority, they’ll have a place to escape the chaos that comes with unpacking a home. Keep everything as close to the same as it was in your old home – meaning this isn’t the time to switch from a crib to a bed! Allow your children to be surrounded by what’s familiar to them so they can feel safe and at home, even if it looks a little different.
Tips for older children (elementary and middle school)
At this age, kids can often be excited
Encourage them to stay in touch with their friends from your old neighborhood. At this age, you may have to help facilitate Skype or FaceTime calls but the ability to connect with their old life will not go unnoticed. At home, continue talking about their old friends and let your children know that just because you’ve moved it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten the past and they don’t have to either.
This age group of children will be most concerned with where they’ll be going to school. Visit the school ahead of time to show them where they’ll be attending and see if there are any online school Facebook groups to where you may be able to meet other parents and schedule introductions and meetups. It never hurts to have a couple of familiar faces!
Tips for teenagers
This group will most likely
If at all possible, throw a farewell party and allow your teen to invite their friends. Take lots of pictures of them all for keepsakes and encourage everyone to keep in touch, even inviting your child’s friends to come out for long weekends and visit the new house.
At this age, teens may have already started to make plans with their friends for the future i.e. going to the fair the next summer or tubing down the river. They may act out in rebellion because they feel like you’re changing their plans and not taking their feelings into consideration. While it’s important for them to express their emotions and for you to be a safe place for those emotions, you may also have to explain to them that moving on is a part of life and that one day they’ll be the ones in charge, making the difficult decisions.
Moving is a major life transition for us all, at any age.
It’s important to allow your children to experience grief and sadness in leaving behind their old home and friends – be a good listener and allow them to express themselves. But in between the sadness and frustrations be sure to start creating amazing new family memories in your new home and community!
At Family Matters, we know that moving is a daunting process and we all have the same question, “Where do I start?” If you or someone you know is moving, contact Family Matters first. We’ll help you map out a plan that is specific to your needs.
If you are going through a difficult life transition such as moving, please don’t hesitate to contact Family Matters – we have been through it all and can be there to support you with whatever you need.