How to Move with Kids
When we make the decision to move, we have to consider everyone in the family, from the needs of our spouses and extended family, to our pets and most especially, our children. Adults sometimes look forward to moves and sometimes don’t, but in either case, moving involves stress and disruption. Most of the time, we’ve learned to handle these issues and while we might be frazzled during a move, we can generally cope.
Our kids are also going to be frazzled, and they aren’t going to be as good at dealing with frustration and uprooting their lives as we are. Here are some ways to try to move with your kids, with a minimum of tears.
Tell Them Right Away and Keep Talking
One of the reasons children get frustrated by moves is because they feel like they have no say in the decisions being made. It’s important to call a family meeting as soon as possible, lay out the reasons for the move, and listen to their concerns. While they shouldn’t get to have final say about the move, knowing what they’re worried about can help you figure out way to handle issues. For example, if they’re worried about making friends, you can look for their favorite activities, such as sports clubs or playgrounds. If they’re old enough, ask them to actively search for things they could do.
As you work closer to moving day, make sure to keep checking in with your kids. Their concerns may change, or they might stop being worried at all if they feel like they’re part of things.
Get Help Watching Them
You know that your kids will have their lives disrupted, and even good kids might act out in those situations. You can’t keep an eye on them all the time, especially if you have to be focused on packing, moving, or arranging things for the move. This is a great time to call on family and friends to lend a hand watching your children. This can involve fun activities away from the house while trucks are loaded, or giving them a playdate while you’re cleaning. It’s going to be impossible to juggle jobs, the move, and kids all at once, so call on help before it gets to be too much.
Give Your Children Things to Do
Another thing that will help your kids deal with the move is to assign them jobs. That way, they’ll be involved, get to make decisions, and maybe help out. Even if their help turns out to just be “help” you have to fix later, they will be happier. You could give them colored duct tape or markers to show where the boxes should go, make up games about packing their stuff, or provide specific chores like cleaning baseboards or making sure your pets are doing okay.
Work While They’re Napping
If your kids are small enough for naps, or old enough to run around with their friends, take advantage of the time they’re out of the way to get work done. You can pack at least two or three boxes while the little ones nap, and clean while the teenagers are at soccer practice.
Look Around Your New Neighborhood With Them
If you have the chance, take your kids with you to check out your new neighborhood, or potential homes. Let them explore to find parks, schools, cool places to hang out. Have conversations about what they could there, and what they hope to find. You might be limited to only a few choices and favor one because of money, but if you let your kids find their own reasons to be there, they will adapt to their new home a lot faster.
They’re Probably Going to Be Upset
And that’s okay. Adults also think moving is disruptive and stressful, so don’t ignore how it might make a child feel, especially if your kids have grown up in one place. Let them pout, or be angry, or even rebel, so long as you keep in mind your skills for managing tantrums. Listening to the reasons they’re upset is good, but make sure not to overpromise or bargain too much. You can help them see how to cope with the move by doing your best to handle things well. Smile, be optimistic, and if something bothers you, work through it in a positive fashion. They’ll follow your lead.