How to Help Children Prepare and Adjust When Your Family Moves Across the Country
When you’re a parent who is moving with children, one of your top priorities is ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible for your children. Moving across the country and leaving friends, schools, and your home behind can be tough on everyone, especially children. From sticking to your schedule to getting them involved in some decision making to throwing a neighborhood housewarming party, there are many ways you can reduce the stress related to the moving process.
Getting Ready for the Move
Properly preparing your kids before the move can alleviate some of their stress. How you handle the time leading up to the move has a big impact on how easily your kids adapt. Avoid major changes until after your child has settled. For example, don’t move your baby from a crib to a toddler bed or change bedding when you move. Although packing is time consuming, stick to your normal schedule as much as possible. Keep mealtimes and bedtimes the same. Also, if you have a ritual, like family game night on Tuesdays, keep it going. The same is true once you move into your new home.
Don’t punish your child for their negative feelings about the move. It’s normal for children to cry or throw tantrums in response to the big change that’s taking place in their lives. While you should try to be positive and calm because children will take your lead and pick up on your feelings, it’s okay to be sad around them too. Help them through feelings of sadness by discussing what you’ll miss and how to cope with these feelings. However, don’t speak negatively about the new home or city.
Whether you physically take your kids or provide a virtual tour through photos and videos, show them the new home, neighborhood, and sites that will matter (playground, library, ice cream shop). Your children typically have no decision in whether or not you move, which only adds to their negative feelings about the process. Finding things that your children can make decisions about before the move and while you settle in will help the feel included. Allow your children to share thoughts on housing choices, and let them pick a new décor item for their new room.
When searching for a daycare in your new location, ensure your options are licensed. You may also wish to look for one that’s NAEYC accredited. If there are none in your area or you find one that you like but it isn’t accredited, follow the NAEYC’s guide for what to look for. For example, you’ll want to ensure there’s a proper student-to-teacher ratio and that teachers have proper education and credentials.
Adjusting to the New Place
Children need plenty of opportunities to make new connections. Don’t just rely on school time. Encourage your children to get involved in activities, such as clubs and sports. Preschoolers and toddlers make friends based on proximity, but older children form friendships based on similarities. Some children make friends independently, but others may need a little help. Teach your children conversation starters. Also, boost your children’s confidence levels. Reassure your child that he or she is smart, funny, friendly, etc. – all traits that friends like.
Parents need friends too. Arrive a little early for school drop off or pick up, volunteer for classroom and school events, or join a local club. You can also throw a housewarming party that everyone will want to attend with adult-friendly beverages and child-friendly activities, like a bouncy house. Have a way for guests to leave their phone numbers, email addresses, and tips for the area, such as favorite restaurants.
Moving can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. When you help children with their feelings about a big move, it prepares them. You can also help by getting them involved in the process and sticking to a normal routine. Once you’ve made the move, support your children in making new connections to help them adjust. Over time, you children will learn to love their school and make new friends, you’ll settle into your new job and enjoy your new neighbors, and everyone will feel right at home.
By: Alex Robbins
About the Author
Alex Robbins is part of the Safety Today team, and loves having the opportunity to promote home and community safety through his writing.
Photo credit: isakarakus, Pixabay