To a child, moving can be an adventure – exciting, perhaps a little disorienting, but ultimately fun. Younger children are easier to move simply because they have not had enough time to form long lasting connections beyond their immediate family. However, for those kids who are a little older, the prospect of moving can be devastating. All of their friendships and the places they are comfortable with – their school, their neighborhood, their favorite walking and biking routes – are about to disappear.
Preparing your children for a move is about providing a solid mental foundation. Before you begin packing, talk about what moving means, and how everything that they think they’ve lost will be in their new home, just in a slightly different form. They will make new friends, and they will find new places to play. If your child has a close friend, invite the close friend over to observe the moving process. Assure both kids that they will be able to stay in touch, and possibly even visit each other. Describe the new house and its features. Talk about the new neighborhood. Most importantly, assure your child that you love them. He or she will feel safe, which is the most vital part of any move for a child.
Once you begin packing, delay packing favorite toys or other objects in your child’s room until the last possible moment. While you can live in a state of disarray for a few days without feeling overly put out, kids tend to get upset if they can’t sleep in their bed or turn off their lamp at night. Focus on packing the rest of the house first. When it comes time to pack your child’s room, allow him or her to ‘help’ you pack. This will allow your child to feel like a part of the process, and make him or her feel less anxious about moving.
Above all, emphasize the adventure of the experience as you pack up your possessions. Nothing is quite as memorable to a child as having a pizza night while sitting on top of packed boxes. The chaos of moving doesn’t have to be stressful; for a child, it can be fun, too.