Moving is right up at the top of the stress list for adults. Well, for kids it’s completely off the charts. John may have just made the football team after his hard efforts finally paid off and you’re moving! Mary may have just got rid of her zits and met her first boyfriend and you’re moving! Maybe junior just got used to his teacher at school and you’re moving!
This guide contains useful information on how to help your children accept the move, see the benefits of the move and learn for the move and this is the key for a successful move for you and your family.
Approximately seven million kids move with their families each year and nearly all survive the ordeal. Moving is not easy on anyone as routines are changed and emotions can take over from common sense. Confusion, anger and sadness can be the emotions seen in people and children planning on moving. Never fear as this is perfectly normal and your family is not gone totally off the wall. Most children will benefit from moving at least once in their youth. It can help them develop the skills to meet new people with ease and to appreciate the diversity in our great country. Children generally focus on the emotions of the move whereas adults focus on the actual physical move.
Trip to your new town
Take a trip to your new town. It may be helpful to visit the new church or synagogue and introduce your family to the priest or rabbi and inquire about youth related activities the church operates. The mall is a very important place for young people especially teenagers, the meet with their friends and shop and begin to feel independent for the first time so it may be useful to drive by or visit any malls in the new area in which you will be living. Seeing and knowing what they can expect can reduce the level of anxiety and lessen the stress level they are most likely experiencing.
Now, check out the new neighborhood
Next, visit places especially geared toward children such as sports clubs like the YMCA or Boys or Girls Clubs. Find out if there is a local swimming pool, basketball court or track. There may be an ice rink or baseball field near your new home also so try to find out these things before you move if possible, your kids will thank you.
Once you move try to re establish their routines as quickly as possible on arrival at your destination especially their recreation and sport routines. It will take them time to adjust, probably longer than you have anticipated so getting routines established as soon as possible is key to beginning the process of getting settled in. Keep a close eye on how your children are settling in when you move. It may take up to a year before your children feel really settled in and if it is taking longer talk to them and consider getting professional help if needed.
Best time to move
What’s the best time to move, during the school year or during the holidays?
This has been a hotly debated topic with people very divided on their opinions. Here are a few things to consider as you work on making a decision. If you are one of those fortunate people who has a choice on when to move you can consider moving during the school term or you can decide to move during the holidays.
Moving during holidays has the advantage that the children are out of school anyway and their studies will not be interrupted. Your child will also start the new term with other new kids and will not be considered the new kid on the block. The advantage of moving during school term is that your children will be in school and can make new friends quickly and they may not have as much opportunity to make new friends if you move during the holidays. The other major advantage of moving during the school year is that your children will have a routine established quickly and this has been known to be helpful to children in adapting to a new location.
The tell tale signs that your children may be having problems settling in can be:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Being argumentative or having mood swings
- Not making new friends
- Changed sleep patterns
- If you are moving because of a death or divorce your family could benefit from counseling even before you move.
- Never wanting to leave the house
Teenagers have the most difficult time when moving. They will have made strong friendships and probably spend most of their free time with their friends and will be very hesitant to move away from this sense of security. Teenagers are going through a difficult time anyway with their bodies physically changing and their emotions in constant turmoil. Teenagers focus on the emotion of moving which to them is basically losing their friends so be gentle with them however hard that might seem at the time.
Here are some useful tips to help teens cope:
- Explain to the why you are moving and what the benefits are to the family.
- Keep them involved in the move. Ask them to do some research about your new city and report their findings back to you. This will help them feel involved and also make help them look forward to seeing the new city and all the things they have found out about it during the research.
- Never be too busy for your teen. No matter how stressful the move is for you make time for them. Empathize with them so they feel you understand the inner turmoil they are going through.
- Difficult as it may be, encourage your children to say goodbye to their friends, Believe it or not many teens relocate without saying goodbye to friends as they think it will make things worse when in fact this is a very healthy exercise.
- If you have a choice on when to move, work with your teen on when is the best time to move. Some people try to move during the holidays so their children can begin the new term in the new school and not be the new kid on the block, others prefer to move mid term so their children can begin a school routine immediately after the move.
- Encourage them to find out about clubs or groups that share the same hobbies or interests as they do such as a running club or a stamp collectors club.
- Encourage your teen to get phone numbers and email addresses of friends and be sure to encourage them to keep in contact with their old friends after you move.
- After you have moved and are somewhat settled in, plan a trip back to your old city or bring some of your teenagers old friends to stay with you for a vacation.
Advice for parents whose teens do not want to move
Although most teenager will go through the normal pattern of complaining when they hear of the impending move very few will flat out refuse to move. Unfortunately you may be one of those people whose teen does not wish to move or even flatly refuses to move. It is very important that you talk with your teen to understand why he does not want to move. Teens can have valid reasons why they do not want to move so listen. He may wish to finish out the school year and graduate with his class or he may wish to stay on an athletic team. There may be a special class he is attending that he wishes to finish. Your teen may just want to remain with friends or to gain more freedom. If possible try to work with your teenager to understand all the options. These could include staying with trusted friends until the school year is over and joining the family at that time or completing high school before moving back with the family. If you are willing to work with your teen he will also need to understand that he will need to work with you. Ask him where he would live if not with friends or relatives and who would pay the food and utility bills. Do not be at all surprised if he changes his mind after trying to answer these questions however no matter what the decision he will have taken part in making a major decision.
Age makes a difference
Does age make a difference?
Absolutely, yes is the answer. In general the younger the children the easier the move is on them.
For very young children the home is their entire world. This is really the family and household belongings in the house rather than the actual physical structure of the house. The change in routine may be the most stressful thing with little ones and you will need to reassure them that they are moving with you. Very young children often get upset as they believe they may be left behind so constant reassurance may be needed. Their focus will be on loss of routine and familiar items rather than on loss of friends.
Bring them with you to the new home in advance of actually moving in so they can get used to the new house and allow them to pick out their rooms if possible.
Here are some useful things you can do to help them become accustomed to the idea of the upcoming move:
- Allow them to pack a box of their own even if you need to repack it later for safety reasons.
- Ask them to pick the colors for their new room
- Play act the move with them so they can get an idea of what is about to happen. Toys can be used to help with this activity to make it a little clearer to them.
- Reassure them that they will be moving with you. Little children can be very insecure and this can be seen in times of stress like moving.
For young school going children moving can be difficult. They will have made their friends at school and in the neighborhood and will find it tough to start all over again at a new location. There are some things you can do to help the situation. Check out the new neighborhood for children of their ages. Find out is the school has after-school activities and if there is any orientation available to new students. You can also find out if there is a house or worship in your neighborhood and this is a good place for the entire family to meet like minded people.
Here are some useful tips to help young school going children cope:
- Keep them involved by assigning some specific duty to them related to the move. It could be to mind the family pet or water the lawn before you leave.
- Get them to pack a bag of their own even if you nee dot repack for safety reasons at a later stage.
- Reassure them that everything will work out well and keep up with that positive attitude. Remember, it’s contagious!
My spouse doesn’t want to move
You may be in a situation where your spouse may not wish to move. Again, open and honest communication is the key to help you and your partner decide if this is the right decision for your family. Draw up a list of the pros and cons and discuss each and every last one in detail and this may help draw out the reason for the hesitation in moving. When you have discovered the reason you can discuss with each other what can be done to help resolve the issue. It is critical to a successful partnership and marriage that you and your partner have this discussion.
Hesitating about moving
Last but certainly not least you may be hesitating about the move yourself. This is very common as we second guess our decision to move. Take control of the situation by writing down the different emotions you are feeling and understanding what is behind each emotion. Get to know as much as possible about your new home town as early as possible and this can help to alleviate the fear of moving somewhere you do not know anything about. Find out about clubs or groups you could join before you even move. The internet has a wealth of information and you should tap in to this resource. This will help you feel more in control of the move and you will be better able to cope with your changing emotions and moods.
Breaking the news
We’re moving! How to break the news?
It is probably a good idea to have a family meeting to discuss the move. If your family never has family meetings, a family meal either at home or in a local restaurant is another good way to break the news. Don’t expect everyone to be pleased about the move. You will need to provide them with as much information as possible and focus on the benefits and advantages of the move. Tell them if you are moving because of a job promotion or for a new job. Break it to them gently and kindly. Tailor your explanations to the age of the children. Generally speaking the older the child the more difficult they will find the move and have more trouble coping with the move. Young children may just need reassurance that they will be moving with Mommy and Daddy. Older children will be concerned about leaving their old school and friends and having to adjust to a new school and make new friends. Teens will be the most upset by the move as they will have developed very strong relationships with their friends.
The youngest children only need to know that you are moving to a new town because your office will be in the new town. You may be moving to be closer to relatives and your youngest children will be very pleased if you tell them this is the reason for the move.
Older children will want to know more and you should be prepared to tell more. They may want to move however if you explain to them that you are moving to be closer to relatives or to a better job they will most likely understand the reason for the move.
Here are some useful tips to use as you tell your family about the move:
Tell them about the move as early as possible. They will need to get used to the idea of moving also.
Discuss the advantages of moving with them e.g. better schools, bigger and better shopping malls, new entertainment facilities and so on.
Maintain a positive attitude but do not over do it as they will hold you accountable for whatever you say. Your positive attitude will also rub off on your kids so be enthusiastic about the new adventure ahead.
Be prepared for negative comments and reactions and do not lose your cool when these opinions are voiced.
Listen and be patient and reassure them you will be there to help them through the transition.
Let them know they can help with the move and that this is a family event. They may be able to help with some planning or packing.
Answer any questions as best as you can with examples if possible. It okay if you cannot answer all the questions right away as long as they see you are completely open to any questions. This will make them feel more comfortable with the move.