The Ultimate Guide To Relocating A Family With Kids
You may have heard that moving with young kids is difficult. No matter how important the move is for you and your family, children can have a tough time leaving behind friends and familiar environments, not to mention accepting their new home. The truth is that kids can and will thrive if given time and resources!
Many moves throughout childhood might be more difficult, but one or two is something they can understand or even enjoy. Both SquareFootHomes and Thriveworks cite studies that found more than four moves tend to have consequences for a child’s mental health, mostly when they are older than five, because leaving behind friends and moving to a new neighborhood hurt their sense of stability and security. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources to remedy this situation and help them through those feelings.
The move to a new home has always involved labor, packing, driving, and unknowns. Doing so while also taking care of your child’s emotions and confidence involves finding ways to make the process easier for you and them. Moving can be broken up into several phases: First is when you announce the move to your family and start looking for your new home. The second is when you are packing and cleaning, and the third is during the move itself. Let’s consider each in turn.
Phase 1 – Home Shopping
What matters to a child is the house they live in, their life at home, what the neighborhood is like, their friends, and school. Rather than simply saying you’ll be moving, focus on all the great things they’ll have there, from a better school or nicer neighborhood to interesting local places and the difference in weather. Focus on the excitement, and children should start feeling the same. Don’t build up your child’s expectations too high, but let them dream.
PartSelect suggests parents start with a family meeting about the move. Younger kids may need several reminders that your family will remain together, you won’t still be living in the old house too, and they can bring along their favorite belongings. Tell them about the first time you ever moved and let kids express fears so you can acknowledge these concerns as important to you. Remember to stay positive and help them understand why you are moving and how this will be for the best overall.
Ask kids for feedback on the top new homes you are looking at and consider what they say. Whatever they liked about the place you pick can become a strong connection with that home, while things they didn’t like can be the first areas you consider improving or helping them start to like. New homes are a great opportunity for kids to get new benefits and responsibilities, such as a new gaming console for the rec room or adopting a puppy if your yard is now big enough.
When researching your new town and neighborhood, find out where the important local spots are like the closest grocery store, hospital, parks, and schools. You’ll of course, do this online, but make sure you visit some of these locations with your kids. Even if your child is still in elementary school, showing them where the high school is will leave an impression, and taking a tour of their elementary school before their first day is a great way to get them excited. Learn about community groups, state fairs, outdoor activities, or what sports are most popular in the area.
Let kids help with choosing what the rooms of your new house will be used for. You may not have considered making a room into an indoor plant nursery or exercise room, but your kids might. Ask what they want and help them make the room happen. Teens can even take part in the planning and purchasing by giving them a budget and allowing them to find everything.
Phase 2 – Packing & Cleaning
Some children are open to new experiences, while others tend to be more sensitive or worrying. You know what kind of kid you have, and the key to dealing with the latter type is providing extra support during this time. They may feel like they can’t control their own lives, so give them tasks to feel important and involved.
If you have a yard sale to get rid of some things before the move, let your kids help with the event and make sure that any proceeds from their old stuff goes to them. If they sell an item, part of that money should go to them too. The TODAY Parenting Team points out that moving is a great time to eliminate things your kids don’t love anymore or won’t need. Maybe you’re moving to a very different climate and they won’t need their cold weather clothes anymore. Or perhaps they have a doll that sits on their shelf now and could give a friend as a keepsake.
Begin packing as soon as possible, starting with anything you won’t need in the next few months like winter clothes if your move is in the summer. Make life easier by renting a temporary storage room near the new home to move things in stages. From there, you can pack down the list by how soon you will need things, ending with your child’s favorite stuff (anything they won’t simply be carrying) with the promise to unpack them first on arrival. Kids that are old enough can help with some of this work, such as cleaning up rooms after being emptied or practicing their handwriting with the labels for boxes.
Creating a scrapbook for the move helps kids record their important memories from home. This might include pictures of the neighborhood, a few items from the area such as pressed leaves or backyard dirt, group pictures with their old friends and classmates, and email addresses or phone numbers for people they want to stay in contact with. The last is especially important because using text messages, online games, or communication apps, children can keep in touch with their friends from any distance as long as they have those methods to contact them.
Phase 3 – Moving Day
Throughout the process of moving, let your child make plenty of decisions. A classic would be choosing paint colors for their new room, but don’t forget moving day! Where would they like to go out for lunch one last time? Do they want to start unpacking the moment you arrive or go for a walk around the neighborhood first? And, of course, let them pick what to have for dinner that first night.
All their most treasured possessions should be packed into one backpack or luggage bag, which they can then carry and keep close. Even if all their other stuff is somewhere in the moving truck, they’ll feel more comfortable knowing their favorite toy is within reach.
One of the difficult times for a child can be falling asleep the night before the move, along with their first few nights sleeping in a new place. You’ll want to use every trick you know to help your child sleep better, whether falling asleep on the couch with you, a glass of milk, or reading stories. Familiar items like posters or bed sheets will help their new room start to feel the same.
The moving day trip is a big adventure for most kids, so plan little breaks and tourist stops along the way. They may never return to that state park halfway between your start and destination, but getting the chance to run around during a long car ride will help with any nerves. Take them to see something amazing, and they’ll talk about it for years afterward.
Our Top Advice for Moving with Kids
Professional realtors can make moving easier by providing advice for every step of the process, from telling your kids about the move, to what you should do first in the new home. You’ll be more confident in your kids’ happiness during and after this stressful time by relying on realtors who understand the intricacies of moving with a young family and can help you through this journey.
Coldwell Banker Elite is passionate about helping you find your slice of the American Dream, whether selling a home and moving, buying a new place, or making improvements. For 40 years, we’ve been proud to help generations of families move into their homes with advice, tips, and trends. Follow along for more blogs on all things home!