Change ain’t easy
5 ways to make the big move fun for kids
Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with the undeniably true saying, “The only constant is change.” Depending on your outlook and life situation, transition can range from exciting to scary. In the mind of a young person watching strangers pack and load the family’s possessions into a big truck, the emotions of moving into a new home often tend toward the latter. Kids look to their parents to help them process significant changes, and moving is one of the biggest, especially when it means a new neighborhood or a new school.
Below are five tips to help your kids adjust to a move.
Whether it’s a basketball camp, youth orchestra, tech team or dance class, look for activities within your new community that allow your kids to socialize freely, without the structured formality and established hierarchy of school. Chances are, some of the friends they’ll make will go to the same school, greatly easing the anxiety of that experience.
Kids will always compare the new location to the old one, and it will rarely earn good reviews. In order to “sell” the new neighborhood, town or city that will be your home for the foreseeable future, get out and explore with the family as soon as the basic necessities are unpacked and put in place (beds and bathroom/kitchen items). The temptation to get completely situated in your new home might be powerful, but your kids’ perception can be soured if they associate the move with forced labor and the stress of urgency. Hiking and biking trails, museums, community centers, waterfalls, theaters, parks and playgrounds will shine a happier light on the new location.
Whether they’re 6 or 16, kids are constantly seeking new ways to prove their ability and independence. Nurturing this healthy yearning for adulthood is a great way to ease the stress of a big move. While you pack and unpack, include your kids in the decision-making process. Asking for their input on where things should go or how different spaces should be utilized will make them feel part of the process, not victims of it. You may have made the decision to move based on what’s best for your family, but that’s not always easy for a kid to understand. Giving them some ownership over the look and feel of your new home will encourage that sense of responsibility they want.
The democratic approach for common living areas is all well and good, but when it comes to the design, color and furnishing of your kids’ room, you might consider giving them complete autonomy. After all, this is their space—their one sanctuary, really—and it should feel as comfortable and personalized as possible. Obviously there are limitations to what you should allow, but as long as there are no safety hazards or aspects that would damage or devalue the home, give them room to create their own room.
The upheaval and long hours of a big move are inescapable; there is simply no way to make it quick, stress-free and easy. And no matter how long and how well you’ve planned and prepared, it will always seem sudden and jarring. That’s why it’s important to re-establish your old routine as quickly as possible after the move. Whether it’s a sit-down dinner, game night or evening walk, do your best to maintain the regular rituals of your everyday family life. The familiarity will reassure your kids that some things don’t have to change, despite what some old Greek philosopher said a long time ago.