If you are a parent and are also about to move, you are probably worried about the how difficult the transition may be for the youngest members of your family. There are studies that can increase your stress by listing off all the potential challenges your child may face, so perhaps you are in need of a reality check to ease your worried mind.
You child will be OK. You will be OK. Providing you keep the kids informed of what to expect (the amount of details in this information should be appropriate to their age level of course), provide answers to their questions, and familiarize them as much as possible to the new neighborhood and community, they will be able to adjust to this move well.
There are things about the move that they will probably remember forever, but with some extra assurance, sharing information and taking steps to make the new house feel like home, they will be meaningful, good memories.
Here are the 5 most likely things your kids will remember about the move:
If they felt in control (of some things) or totally out of control: Moving means you child may naturally feel like their life is a bit out of their own control, so the best thing you can do is give them some of it back during the move. Let them choose the paint color for their new room (yes, this may mean painting a room once you are settled, but it is worth it). Plan a house warming and let them invite a few of their friends from the old neighborhood or school. If your kids are young, visit the school with them before the first day they attend classes. Checkout the school playground and any parks or playground near your new home and let them explore. Let them choose what the first family meal in the new home will be. Let them help pack and unpack during the actual move. Make them part of the event, not helpless observers.
If they felt safe: There is such stress in moving and many “what-ifs”, but don’t make your children aware of your adult worries. You are the parent and by seeing you looking confident and going with the flow, they experience a feeling of safety. They want the person in charge to not appear worried or panicked. Things may not go as smoothly as planned, but keep emotions in check.
If they felt heard: Ok, so you are doing a million things and unpacking and your child wants to tell you in slow detail about their bad dream last night, or how their first day at the new school went. Give them your undivided attention. Listen. Make eye contact. Respond appropriately. Kids can tell when parents are distracted or half-listening, and you want them to feel fully acknowledged during this transitional time. They may not feel comfortable speaking up at school for a while, so it is even more important that you listen when they speak up at home.
If they were allowed to feel sad or remember the old home: Even if you hated your old house, you and your child probably have precious memories made there and therefore an emotional attachment. It is OK to acknowledge any sadness about moving. Don’t insist that any family member pretend that they don’t feel what they feel. Instead, encourage them to hold on to their memories, draw about their favorite things they miss or write a list of what they loved about the old home. Then, encourage them to also embrace the excitement about making more memories and plans in the new home.
The first night in the new house: You will all remember it so make it about family, celebrating the new house, and fun. Instead of unpacking until you collapse, unpack until dinner and then order that first dinner (the ones you let your child pick) and have a picnic in your new home. This is where the memories begin.