We all know that moving to a new home in a new neighborhood can be a stressful — albeit exciting — time. But as adults, the stresses that come to us are very different than those our children are facing. Change can be particularly scary for children; they not only have to leave the comfort of their childhood home, but they also have to face a new school and make new friends.
Moving can be a difficult process for both you and your children, but you have to remember to look at the transition through the eyes of your kids. And if you plan ahead of time, there are steps you can take in order to help them through this period of change, and ensure that their new home and new school come along with good memories instead of bad ones. Check out these tips for things you can do to reduce stress, to increase comfort, and to help your kids during the long (and tiring) process.
- Include Your Child in Decisions
One of the biggest stress factors for children during a big move is the fact that it is completely out of their hands. When you tell them you have decided to move, it changes their entire lives. Emotions are high during this time. It’s important to help your kids feel involved in the decisions that surround your move. Whether you’re deciding which toys to store or to toss, including them in the packing process or just keeping them in the loop when talking about plans for your new home, including your child in this change can help them adjust. Bring them along to open houses (for homes that you’ve already seen and liked), let them decide how to decorate their new rooms, and try to paint the move in the most positive light possible from the day you decide to leave your old home, to the day you move in.
- Stick to Your Routine
During the move, their entire lives will be turned upside down. Your children will have become so comfortable in their lives as they knew it, that the idea of going to a new school and leaving the comfort of their friends and their homes can create chaos. One way you can help minimize this chaos is by keeping your kids to their regular schedules. If there’s a specific time they go to sleep and wake up, make sure to keep them on that schedule so they feel comfortable, despite any stressful situations that may arise. Set up their rooms and homework areas first, with toys and items that make them comfortable. This way, on the day of move-in, they’ll still be able to do their chores and tasks. Even though the day will be tiring, make sure that you let them know that there’s no skipping out on the usual day-to-day routine.
- Get Involved in Activities
A big part of establishing routine is giving your children things to do and look forward to in their new communities. Look into public soccer teams or dance classes in your new neighborhood. Classes or activities will give your children a chance to get involved in something they love — associating their move with a positive feeling — while allowing them to make friends before ever heading off to class. Chances are, a few of these new friends will be going to the same school as your child. Going into the first day of school knowing you have someone to lean on can be very helpful and can make your child more excited to go to their first day.
- Throw a Housewarming Party
Your kids aren’t the only ones who need to get out there and meet new friends; in fact, seeing you interact in a positive way with your new neighbors will help them have an open mind about making new friends. Invite your new neighbors to see your home. And, equally important, if the new neighbors have children, make sure they’re invited too! Having a party will allow your children to associate happiness and excitement with moving to a new home, and it will give them an extra chance to make friends in the new neighborhood.
- Be Confident.
Expressing confidence that your child will succeed is a large part of how they are able to look at a situation. If you’re confident that they will make friends, they can mirror your confidence, and it could make the move astonishingly easier. Studies show that changing schools can have negative effects on a child’s mental health, so it’s important that you talk through the experience with them. Once school starts, make sure to ask them how their day went — and don’t take “fine” for an answer. They may be feeling self-conscious about being the new kid in town, so have multiple conversations with them to make sure they’re feeling okay. The most important step of the move will be making sure that they head into their first day at a new school with a smile.
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