Hey guys! Today I am going to be sharing some tips for helping kids through moves. As someone who has moved over a lot of times in my life, I’d dare to say that I am an expert in this area. *goofy grin* I’ve done both short, “easy” moves as well as lengthy, cross-state moves. In this post, I will be focusing on cross-state moves.
Tip One: Closure
This is so important. Whether your child has lived here for a year of their whole lives, it is important for them to be able to say goodbye to the places that they love. Have them make a list of everywhere they want to go before the move, and try to visit those places. Let your child say their final goodbyes to their favorite parks, church and candy stores.
Tip Two: Stability
Moving spells out chaos. Packing, unpacking, buying/renting and trying to make sure that the move goes as smoothly as possible is incredibly stressful. It is really hard to maintain a level of stability during a cross-state move. This leads to children acting out, fighting and added stress on your shoulders. Try to make one or two things stable in your child’s life – it can be as simple as reading your child a story book every single night before they go to bed. Don’t underestimate the little things. It often times gives them an anchor to hold onto.
Tip Three: Honesty
Be transparent and honest with your children. Children are amazing at sensing your moods and picking up on subtle body language. As much as you want to protect them from your stress or anger by not talking about it with them, they probably know more than you think they do. Talk to them. Let them know that you are stressed – but it’s not their fault (in most cases) and it is NOT their job to fix your adult problems. A little honesty goes a long way.
Tip Four: Little Treats
Stop packing or unpacking for an hour and go out for ice cream. Spend an afternoon relaxing and take time to do a puzzle or play a game with your child. Make scavenger hunts or create games that involve packing/unpacking. Turn work into play.
Tip Five: Emotions Are Okay
It is likely that your child has a wide range of emotions about the move – fear (I won’t make any friends, our new house will be scary, what’s going to happen to my pet, will my parents ever stop running around, etc.), anger (I didn’t want to move but my parents are making me, I hate having to pack/unpack, no one heard me when I said I didn’t like our new house, why would my parents take me away from my perfectly happy life, etc), sadness (I’m going to miss my friends, I’ll miss my favorite places here, I’ll never get used to living in a new place, this is the only home I’ve known and I don’t know how any other will really be come home, etc), happiness (I can’t wait to see my new room, we’re moving closer to grandparents, it’s a new place to explore, etc).
Don’t try to force your child to be happy (or sad, if the case may be). It doesn’t help and will likely make them more miserable in the long run. Let them know that it’s okay to feel emotions and that they’re not bad for being sad, fearful or angry (I am not condoning misbehavior here, just stating that anger will likely arise and it is okay).
Tip Six: You Are Heard. You Are Safe.
Being in a new, unknown place can be really scary – especially for younger kids. Let them know that they are safe. Make sure they understand that you hear their concerns, their needs and their cries for attention. Don’t tune them out. Be ready to support and encourage your child during this journey.
Tip Seven: Reminisce…But Look Towards the Future
Let your child remember the old times. Cry over the things that they miss. Talk about their old friends and their old hangouts. That’s natural and good. It only becomes dangerous when they start to obsess and are constantly miserable over what they have lost. Help them look to the future. Point out the joys in their present life. Look ahead while remembering the past in a good light.
Tip Eight: Food, Snacks and Gummy Worms
I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like food. Food is an excellent motivator and encourager. Plan a special night out if your child accomplishes a set goal of work. Bring milkshakes home as a fun dessert. Bake a batch of cookies (if you still have the things out!) or get a package of gummy worms to split. Make the moving experience as fun and positive as possible. Who knows! Maybe they’ll have so much fun that they’ll ask to move more often! 🙂
Tip Nine: Make The Drive Fun
When you move cross-country, you likely have a long drive ahead of you. Why let that opportunity go to waste? Plan a mini vacation. Add in fun stops along the way. Every few hours, get out of the car and stretch your legs. Let your kids run around at a park or stop at a sit down restaurant (food = happy kids!). Stop by science museums or zoos.
If you don’t have the time or money to do those things, try to make the drive fun in and of itself. Listen to audios or watch a movie (if your car has that feature). Make little road trip packs for your kids (coloring books, some candy, activities, etc.).
Of course there are more tips and help out there. These are just a few that came to my mind today. 🙂 I hope that they’ll help someone out there! 🙂