Lauren B. Stevens Byline: As a military brat, moving was a normal part of my childhood and one that I grew accustomed to overtime. However, my seven-year-old has moved four times in his short life, and he still brings up fond memories of our last home, despite us having moved three years ago. Thankfully, we’re in our “forever home,” but I still remember navigating our last move with my then, four-year-old. The most important thing to remember is that moving can be stressful for all members of the family, so take a look at these tips to navigate your kids through the change.
Arm them with information
As soon as you know, let your children know. When you know that you’re moving, call a family meeting or have a sit-down with your kids and let them know that they’ll be leaving the place they know as home. Present all of the information you have — timeline, new area, schools, geographic features — and allow your children time to process and field any questions they have.
I was five when I found out I was moving to a different country. As an adult, I still remember my parents sitting us down to have that conversation and the excitement we all shared for our upcoming transcontinental move. Regardless of your circumstances, treat your upcoming move as an adventure for the entire family.
Use technology to your advantage
The internet didn’t exist when I was moving to a new country, but now you can access satellite imagery to zoom in and look around the area where you’ll be moving. If you’ve already found a new home, use Google Maps to take a look at your street, and show your kids the online listing for your new home. Many online MLS listings now feature virtual tours, which can help your kids envision themselves in the new space — let them check out the space that will be their new bedroom and envision how they’ll decorate.
Allow the kids to take ownership of the move
Transition your move from an abstract concept to something more tangible by having your kids take part in packing. While you may have a moving company packing your home, allow your children to pack a box or two of their favorite belongings. Not only will your children have physically taken part in preparing for the move, but they’ll know exactly where to find their special toys or items when they arrive at your new home, providing a sense of comfort.
Make your children a part of the process
Selling a home with kids can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’re amid showings. Keeping your home neat and tidy enough for impromptu showings is a job for the entire family. If you’ve not worked with your children on tidying-up (obviously this doesn’t pertain to babies and toddlers), now is the time to begin reinforcing putting toys away when they’re finished playing.
One of the best packing tips I can offer is to declutter before you move, especially when it comes to toys. While you may have been putting off purging old toys, there’s no better time — or excuse — than moving to get rid of old and unused kiddie items. Instead of getting overwhelmed, view this as the perfect opportunity to reduce clutter in your home, as you can have your children sort through toys to decide what gets donated and what will move with them.
While it may seem small in scale, parting with old toys is an excellent primer for parting with the only home they’ve known — change is hard, but it can also be exciting. The toys your kiddos have let go have opened up room for new toys…once you get to your new home.
Father knows best
You know your children better than anyone (well, maybe not your partner). You likely already know which of your children will have the most difficult time with the move, so be prepared to make time for heart-to-hearts and frequent check-ins to listen to and allay fears. Make sure you create an action plan with your partner and present a united front for your kids.
It’s normal for both parents and children to experience stress with a move, so be patient, practice listening, and be your family’s cheerleader. You want to remain positive when you talk about your move — keeping the morale high and the excitement piqued is important to the process.
Perhaps the best advice I can give you is to prepare yourself to face some chaotic and emotional time with your kids. You’ll get through this move, and in six months you’ll wonder why you ever worried — you’ve got this!
Writer Bio: Lauren B. Stevens is an award-winning writer specializing in home, tech, families, and the military. She’s crafted content for Care.com, Vivint Smart Home, Philips Lighting, ADT Residential, Net Nanny, Home Depot and OXO, and created veteran profiles for Paralyzed Veterans of America. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Lauren spends her free time composing creative nonfiction essays about military life and her childhood abroad.