Whether it’s across town or across the country, moving is one of the five most stressful events you will encounter in life. Now add the pressure of a job transfer and kids who are about to be uprooted, and the entire ordeal might seem just too overwhelming. When it comes to relocating for career purposes, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter, so how can you keep the moving process smooth and secure for the kids, while mitigating your own anxiety at the same time? The pointers below can take that chaotic edge off moving for the whole family, turning it into a brand new adventure—not a source of dread.
Involve the Kids in Packing their Own Boxes.
When kids feel included in the process, it becomes less frightening and more normalized for them. So find age-appropriate moving tasks that enable them to contribute and maintain a sense of control over their shifting environment. Give each child their own boxes to pack, so they can decide how to transport their clothes, books, toys, keepsakes and other belongings. Teaching your kids to take charge of a responsibility like this communicates that, as active members of the family, their participation has value.
Plan a Family Outing Right Before the Move.
The weeks preparing for a move are frenzied and hectic which can amplify the stress both you and kids are experiencing. So intentionally slow down the pace and just be together as a family on the night before this move takes place. It’s your last time to enjoy the local hangouts, so make the evening special and memorable. Treat the kids to dinner at their favorite restaurant, then get sundaes at the ice cream they love. Just be present with each other and don’t fixate on the changes ahead of you.
Stock Your Car with Travel Entertainment.
One of the most aggravating parts of a move is being stuck on the highway for long periods of time—especially with young children in the car. Whether your destination is a couple hours away or in another time-zone, making sure the kids are occupied will give you a measure of sanity during the trip. No parent wants to hear, “Are we there yet?” So load the backseat with games, books, toys, puzzles, drawing paper, crayons, DVD players and other activities to keep them distracted and entertained.
Explore the Area Together when You Arrive.
Before you dive headfirst into unpacking, acclimate the kids—and yourself—to these new surroundings. Walk around the neighborhood together. Drive through town and scout the local pizza joints, movie theaters and bowling alleys. Show the kids where they’ll attend school. Visit a playground, so they can meet other children their own age. Get them excited about this change in scenery. The more oriented and familiarized they become with the new zipcode, the more it will start feeling like home.
Give the Kids Input on their Bedroom Décor.
Another inclusive strategy is allowing the kids freedom to choose how their new bedrooms will be decorated. This eases the transitional process of adjusting to a new house and helps them work through emotions of homesickness that often emerge. Take your children to a hardware store so they can decide on paint colors. Go shopping together for wall décor, bedding and other accents to infuse their unique personalities into the space. When kids are able to express themselves, enthusiasm follows.
There is no denying that relocating for a job causes tension on its own — especially if you need to sell your home on top of it all — but involving kids in that equation adds an entirely new level of stress. The unknown is intimidating for anyone, especially for children who might not understand why these changes are happening. They just register the loss of leaving behind their friends and their comfort zones. They might not be able to grasp that moving is a part of life. So if you have to relocate for work, easing their fears, making them feel included and tapping into their sense of adventure can lead to a smooth and successful transition.