Think about how nervous, excited and anxious you feel about moving to a new house. Now take all those feelings and add to them a fear of the unknown, a sense of powerlessness and worry. That's how many kids feel about moving. Sure, they're excited, but they also don't really know what to expect, and that can be scary. It's stressful on you, but adults know how to deal with that stress. Children need help processing what a move really means, realizing they may not get to see some of their best friends or go to their favorite places. They need to know that no matter what happens they will be safe, loved, and they'll make new friends and find new favorite places. Here are five tips to help make moving fun for your children. These tips are geared towards kids between the ages of 4 and 14.
1. Let Kids Help You House Hunt
One of the best things you can do is bring your kids with you when you go house hunting. Let them feel like they have a say in picking out your new home. Show them what could potentially be their bedroom, where they could play in the backyard and maybe even check out the neighborhood for potential playmates. Offer to let them pick out the color of their new room. Encourage them to draw pictures of what they want their new room to look like and where they'll want to put certain toys.
If they can't tour houses with you or you simply don't want them to tag along, take some pictures to share with your kids, or let them take an online tour. They'll want to know what their new house looks like and seeing, even just the front of the house, will help them begin to imagine what their lives will be like in a new place. Help them research their new community online by looking up information about the school system, parks and recreation, restaurants, and fun things to do.
2. Throw a Goodbye Party
Children, especially those in grade school, have likely made relationships with their classmates or neighbors. Throw a little party, so they can say goodbye to some of their best friends. Sure, there will be sad moments, but it will help bring closure to your child. It will help them understand how important friendships are and deal with the sometimes hard moments life brings. Keep it simple, with cupcakes, popcorn or just some popsicles. Plan fun activities that will let the children interact, and encourage them to reminisce about fun times they had together. Collect addresses from your children's favorite friends so they can write to each other.
3. Make Packing Fun
Except for maybe teenagers, most children will want to have a hand in packing for a move. They'll love putting their stuff in boxes and being a part of the packing process. Let them pack themselves or do it with you. Help them decide what should go in what box. Let them label the boxes and decorate them.
If you plan on trying to get rid of some of your child's older toys, consider being stealthy about it. Find a time when they will be out of the house, and grab anything you know they haven't played with for the last six months and won't miss. You'll be amazed at what they won't miss. Bag it and either donate or toss it before they get back. Kids have an uncanny ability of finding things in the garage, in closets or trash cans, and bringing it back into their rooms.
If they don't seem interested in packing, offer them a reward for a job well done, like a sticker, certificate or maybe a new toy. A great reward is the promise that once they've packed up their toys and clothes they'll get a great big box to play with. They can turn it into a fort, car or spaceship, whatever their imaginations come up with.
4. Take a Farewell Tour
Give your children one last good look at the town they are leaving. Take them out for ice cream after driving to some of their favorite places, like parks, shopping centers, school and friends' houses. Talk about the great memories they'll have of their old town and how they'll be making many more memories in their new town. Some kids will enjoy taking their own pictures so they can look back at their old town once they get to your new home. It's perfectly normal for children to be sad about moving and even shed some tears. They've connected with a place and breaking those connections hurts, but reinforce that there are many happy moments to be had in their new city.
5. Plan Something Fun
A good way to get everyone's mind off of leaving behind friends and a house full of old memories is doing something fun before you reach your new home. See if there is an amusement park between your old and new houses. Stay in a hotel with a water park or at least a pool, and allow time to just relax and hang out. See if there are any attractions along your route to explore. If you can swing it, go to the beach for a few days to recharge and get ready to unpack and move into your new place.