Moving with Children

Moving to a new home can be stressful for the whole family, but it can be especially hard on children. Often, kids have to say goodbye to their neighborhood friends, leave a familiar environment and maybe even go to a different school. All of this interrupts their normal routines, making it a challenge for some.

Cassandra Fallon, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Thriveworks in Colorado Springs, Colorado, says there are a number of ways to minimize the stress on your kids.

What to Know Before You Move

  • Have a talk with your children.

    It’s never too early to talk to your kids about a move, so involve them in age-appropriate conversations as much as possible. Provide a space and time to talk with them whenever you can. “If we don’t listen to what our kids are saying, we won’t necessarily understand their mindset,” says Fallon. “And we can’t possibly assume what they’re thinking or feeling, so opening a dialogue, answering any questions they may have and assuring them that you’re there to listen and love them are extremely important.”

  • Involve kids in the moving process.

    OK, so you may not want your kids to pack the china handed down to you from grandma. But they can pack their stuffed animals, clothes and other items to make them feel like they’re involved. You can also ask them to decorate the boxes or customize them. When you get to the new house, allow kids to unpack some of their belongings in their new room.

    You can also ask for their opinions on paint colors or furniture. Allow them to give you their ideas on how they want their new room set up. “This will really make them feel like they’re part of the whole moving process,” says Fallon.

  • Get to know the area

    Once you’ve moved everything into the new house, take a walk around the neighborhood with your kids to get acclimated to the environment. Meet neighbors, go to a nearby park or playground, or take a drive by their new school. “But make sure to listen to your children’s needs and don’t rush them. Some may not want to get involved or explore the new area just yet,” says Fallon.

  • Make moving fun

    If your children do a great job with packing or moving little boxes, think about rewarding them with stickers, certificates, a new toy or even ice cream! And before you completely unpack in the new house, let them use some of the boxes and maybe even furniture to create a fort or turn the living room into a camping area.

  • Keep family routines

    Family culture doesn’t necessarily change, no matter where you are, says Fallon. So certain routines are really important to uphold, including bedtime and mealtimes, as well as the types of food your kids eat. Additionally, setting up their bedrooms to be similar to their old rooms could help ease their stress. But in some cases, kids may not want that, so let them guide you.

     

  • Watch for signs of stress

    Of course, your children’s temperament will factor into how they react to moving to a new house. Some children adapt better to new conditions, while others find it difficult. Even if you follow these tips to help ease the stress of moving, you should always watch for any abrupt behavior changes, says Fallon. For instance, if your kids are really outgoing and they start to become quiet and withdrawn, or if they are normally quiet and begin to act out, these can be signs of stress.

    Also watch for a shift in eating and sleeping habits. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, try to have a conversation with your children and allow them to openly express how they feel. If their behavior continues, perhaps provide them with opportunities to talk to other family members or a therapist.

    Aside from these tips, it’s vital that you, as parents, let your children know that you’re there for them — ready to talk and answer any questions. Assuring them they are in a safe and loving environment can help turn the stressors of moving into excitement.

     

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