My husband recently accepted a new job in a different town, and we immediately worried about how our two young elementary age children would adjust. We’ve spent some time gathering information to help make the process less stressful. These have helped us so far – take a look at these four ways you can help prepare your kids for the transition.
Discuss the move with your kids
The most important way to prep your kids for a move is to talk about it. As soon as we decided to move and found a list of practical moving tips we could use, we told the kids (about two months in advance). We would have waited a little longer, but we needed to prepare our home to put it up for sale and go walk through new homes, so there was no way of keeping the impending move a secret.
First, we gave the kids a chance to ask questions. We gave them as much information as possible and were receptive to their reactions. They looked at houses with us online initially, and came with us when we walked through the homes. We talked about where their bed would go and who would get which room. We snapped a LOT of pictures. We drove past their elementary school and the nearby parks and pointed out where we would get pizza and ice cream and go to the movies. These things that seem small really give the kids (and ME!) peace of mind so things aren’t so scary.
We are also encouraging the kids to take a lot of pictures of things they love where we live now, like our house, our friends, their school and the park.
Let them feel sad
Leaving what you know and love behind IS hard. It’s normal to feel upset about the seismic shift that is about to take place. Even if your children feel excited, it’s important not to underestimate how difficult the losses will be for them. They are leaving behind good friends, childcare providers and teachers, and everything they know. Children will accept things at their own pace, and many experts say it takes six months or more to acclimate to their new home and life.
Kids look to you for cues, so stay positive and your children will believe everything will be ok. There may be time when you want to throw a pity party about the changes, even as a grown-up. There’s been a number of times that I’ve had tears, and a lot of them. While I understand the great opportunity that is waiting for us, it is very hard to uproot our lives. But instead of losing it in front of my kids, I admit to them I’m feeling sad or anxious or overwhelmed, and that it’s okay to feel those ways. If you’re moving a child with anxiety, make sure you are doing what you can to support them. Highlight the great things about the new town so the kids can look forward to it. Negativity breeds negativity, so show your children how you are managing your emotions constructively. Try to lead by example.
Get to know people
Reach out to your neighbors and introduce yourself. Let your kids get involved in activities they enjoy so they can meet friends who have similar interests. Remind your children that they are good at making friends to boost their confidence (and yours).
Are you moving with a special needs child? It can be useful to find an active living community for young adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. This step wouldn’t only ensure a smooth transition but can provide them with the necessary support for their unique needs. Don’t hesitate to speak to professionals, educators, and therapists familiar with your child’s challenges to make the appropriate arrangements.
As far as making mom friends, my plan is to volunteer at the school, join a church we know young families attend, go to the library toddler classes with my youngest and reach out to people in the neighborhood. I really enjoy how well I know and feel a part of my community now, and the reasons I know it so well are because I’ve done my part to get out there and meet people. I’ll do just the same in our new town.
Books that can help:
Ages 3-6 The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day
Ages 6 + Where I Live
Moving is a big transition for adults and children alike. Make sure your expectations are realistic. Expect some regression. We are trying to brace ourselves for that, especially with our oldest who has high functional autism and first stepped through he doors of his current elementary school for Developmental preschool when he was three years and one day old. Our plan is to encourage our kids to send letters to their old friends, or talk to them on the phone or via FaceTime. Moves are inevitably full of challenges, but there are a lot of positives that can come from the change. One great thing is that the move will bring your family closer together as you embark on a new life chapter leaning on each other.
What moving tips would you share?
Photo credit: Expatchild.com
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