Tips for Families Moving with Kids
How to Prepare the Children Before Moving
The one most important thing to do when planning to move your family to a new home is to tell the kids far enough in advance for them to understand and accept the idea of moving. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare before moving your family:
- Research books or online articles that you can read to find age appropriate language to use when you decide it’s time to tell your children.
- Find age appropriate children’s books that you can read with your children. When they hear about other stories, it can really help them identify with characters in books and that can help them accept the change that is about to come.
- If it is a new city, state, province, or country, then you can create a learning opportunity. Children can learn to love, or at least better accept what they know. Research online or get books about where you are going to live. The bigger the change, the more learning opportunities there are city, state, country, etc.
- Give them something(s) to look forward to, whether it is decorating their new room or visiting amusement parks or zoos near your new home. Giving them something to look forward to about the move will help get them excited about it rather than dread the move.
- Have discussions about the things they love in your home now. Have them put together a treasure box and fill it with pictures, trinkets, and objects that can help remind them of your current house. You will also have this when they are feeling homesick later on and can take a trip down memory lane.
- Find family or community publications and online websites for the city or community you are moving to and plan ahead to attend events that will help you get integrated into the community, meet neighbors, and make friends so that making the move will seem less daunting or lonely for the whole family.
- Connect your children with their friends via email, cell phones, or social media. If they are too young for that, then take the initiative and connect with parents of friends to help keep friendships connected.
- Look into what school district you will be in and find out which schools your children will be attending. You can also investigate alternative schools in the area so that you can evaluate all your options. If you find family or community events (as outlined in #6) when you meet the new locals, you can also pick their brain about schools.
- Try not to change any other aspects of their life. Enough will have to change when you move to a new home, so try to keep as much as possible the same.
- Plan ahead for moving day and see if a friend or family member can watch the kids so that they don’t have to be exposed to what can be chaotic or traumatizing to them. Of course, this depends on how far away you are moving as well as other factors like the age of your kids and your personal preferences.
For almost all ages, it is usually better to have the kids participate in packing, especially their own things. Unpacking is a good way for them to take ownership of the new house, their new room, and own it.
- Be sure to pack the kids’ belongings separately in their own boxes, or have them pack their own boxes if they are old enough to do so. Having their own boxes allows them to be able to start unpacking their own things right away so they don’t have to wait and can start setting up their new room right away.
- Pack an overnight bag and/or suitcase of things they will be able to have immediate access to because you will keep it with you instead of putting it in the moving truck. This should have their pajamas, change of clothes, overnight toiletries, and plenty of their favorite toys and games to keep them busy.
- Bring snacks with you and plan meals for moving day and the first day in your new house.
- Keep all your family documents, birth certificates, passports, etc. with you or in a safety deposit box. The last thing you want is to have something that important get lost in a move.
- Moving is tiring for everyone in the family but, it can really take a toll on the children, especially little ones. Plan on loading the kids’ beds and bedding in the moving truck last so that you can take that out first and set it up right away. That way, if they get overtired or cranky, they don’t have to wait for you to do that in order to go to bed.
It may take a while before your new house really feels like “home”.
- Especially with small children, layout their room as close to their old room as possible. The sense of familiarity will help them feel comfortable.
- Something that may not occur to you is that small children need to know where you sleep. Before they go to bed, be sure to show them where you will be and how to get to your room from theirs.
- Celebrate the move your new home as a family.
- Walk through your new home together and ask your children what they like most about their new home. Have them draw it or take pictures of the things they like most so they can focus on the positive.
- Take breaks throughout the whole moving process. Have a little fun together to lighten up the mood and make the experience better for everyone.