Big moves are stressful when you’re moving on your own; when you are moving with kids in tow, the process can be even more difficult. Kids are often nervous about the process of packing and relocating, but a few simple changes to how you normally pack and move can make the entire experience easier on kids.
Be Clear About What’s Happening
Make sure that kids understand, to the best of their ability, what’s happening. If the move is due to a separation or divorce, it’s best to be clear about what will happen. If the other parent is staying in the original home, let them know that; if both parents will be relocating, tell them that as well.
Either way, let them know the dates of the move, and if you have any activities planned for the last few days, let them know what to expect.
Let Them Make (Age-Appropriate) Decisions
Kids thrive when they have a limited amount of control in scary situations. Young children can choose a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or pillow that won’t get packed until the last moment, while preteens and teens can take some responsibility for packing their items and labeling boxes so that what they want can be quickly found on the other end of the move.
Say Good-bye To Your Old Home and Town
If you’re moving to a new town, take the time to go around and say goodbye. Whether it’s a favorite park, a particular ice cream parlor, or a preferred family restaurant, have a last meal, playtime, or other experience in your preferred venues.
In your old home, let your child walk through the house once it’s empty and make sure all of their things are gone. Some kids enjoy leaving a welcome package for the next family to move in, especially if that family has kids who are a similar age.
Visit Your New Town If Possible
It’s hard for kids to get excited about a move when the new community is nebulous and undefined. One way to get them excited about an upcoming move is to visit the new town. Check out the school, visit the nearby parks, and see what restaurants are in the area. If your child has a particular interest, like comic books, music, or soccer, find out what resources are available in the area and go check them out. It’s much simpler to get kids excited about something concrete.
Allow Them To Pack Crucial Items In The Family Vehicle/Luggage
Depending on how you’re getting to your new home, make sure that your child’s most important items are in the vehicle you’re driving, or packed in your luggage. If they’re nervous about the travel, or items potentially getting lost in transit, having them within grabbing distance can be a big help for easing anxiety.
Go Easy On Driving Times
Sure, if you’re the only one in the car, it may be possible to drive for twenty-four hours, fueled gas station coffee and snack food, but if you have kids in the car, that can be very hard on everyone. Kids get bored, need to stretch their legs, and if you have more than one of them, it’s practically guaranteed that they won’t need to pee at the same time. Plan for shorter driving days than you would try to do on your own, and then plan for lots of rest stops and stretching breaks.
If you’re traveling with kids, also make sure they have something to do in the car. Electronics, coloring, or their own music are all great ways to make sure kids stay occupied and happy. If there are kid-friendly attractions along your route, it may also be worth stopping to visit a waterpark, amusement park, or splash park, especially if you’re traveling in the heat of summer.
A break to play can both be a lot of fun and tire your kids out enough that they get a nice nap in the back of the car, and you can listen to some of your own music for a few miles.
Respect their feelings.
Kids may have all sorts of feelings about a pending move. They might be excited, apprehensive, angry, or some of all of them. Let them feel how they feel without making it about you, and without expecting them to be tiny adults.
Kids are resilient, and ultimately, will survive most moves with a bare minimum of fuss. But by taking some steps to make sure your kids are as comfortable as possible, you can make the actual experience of moving more pleasant for everyone. By paying attention to your child’s emotions before the move, during the move, and in the first weeks after the move, you will help them adjust and be more comfortable over time.