Moving as a Family: Helping Your Kids to Adjust to their New Surroundings

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Moving as a family takes a lot of teamwork and patience: there’s packing, settling in, and adjusting to a new environment all while nerves are shot and emotions are fragile. There could be sensitive issues that might be surrounding the move, such as moving on after a breakup or divorce, or a situation where you’re the modern day Brady Bunch and you’re combining two households. It could also be the result of a great job opportunity in a different city or perhaps you just need a more affordable community to live in. Family moving is complicated in any situation, so here are some ways to help the kids and you ease into this new chapter of life.

Have a Family Meeting to Introduce the Idea

If you have a family with small kids or if you’re a new family just starting to adjust to one another, it’s important that everyone has a chance to voice their opinions and concerns. Moving as a family is something your kids may not like, but knowing that they have a voice and that they are a part of the decision making process can make the transition much easier. Just saying, “I understand how you feel, and hear your frustrations,” can help them to feel validated.

Another strategy to make a difficult move more exciting is allowing each person to share what features they want in their new home. Maybe your five year old dreams of a house with stairs and a pool, while your teenager insists on having a room of his own. While they may not get everything on their wishlist, you can acknowledge their ideas and explain that you’ll do your best to find a home that each family member loves. They’ll be more willing to adjust to the change when they have an important role in choosing their new home.

Set Aside Prep Time for Your Family Move

For kids and adults, sometimes the unknown is just as scary as moving itself. If you’re only moving a couple of hours away, plan a family trip before the move so the kids know what to expect in the new location. Schedule a tour at the new school, visit the local mall, drive around to see what the neighborhood looks like, and visit any other points of interest that your kids love to help them cope with moving anxiety. For example, if your sons love swimming, find the community pool. If your daughter is passionate about baseball, visit the local ball fields.

If you’re moving out of state with children, the Internet is an awesome tool to take a virtual tool of your new town (it’s even a great tool to plan your day trip if you’re within driving distance.) You can type in your new city’s name to visit their website; find the “Recreation” tab to learn about local parks, rec centers, and activities. Most schools have their own websites that have teacher pictures or facts and that share photos of the campus and annual events. Even typing in your city name in YouTube can bring results about local attractions (but do this without the kids first… some results aren’t always G-rated).

Involve Your Kids in Packing Up Their Rooms

For smaller kids, one of the biggest concerns they have is that they’ll have to leave their favorite toys behind. As with any task, it’s going to take more time and everything won’t be packed perfectly, but you’ll soothe their worries about if Bobo the Monkey or Thomas the Tank Engine will be at their new home. While it’s okay to box up most of the toys, be sure to keep aside a special backpack or duffle bag for just the most beloved toys to make family moving much easier. You may not be moving for a few days, but little Johnny may still need to sleep with his teddy bear at night or play his Leapster on the long trip to the new home.

Let the Kids Decorate Their New Room

Okay, so you have mountains of boxes to unpack and we’re talking about decorating kids’ rooms. You don’t have to do this right away, but it can give your son or daughter something to look forward to in the new place. Give them a box of crayons and a blank piece of paper and ask them to draw what their dream room would look like (even teens like this activity). Visit the local hardware store so that they can pick out a paint color for their walls, and if budget allows, maybe give them $50 – $100 to buy new bedding or wall art. Any little steps towards making the new home feel customized can help your kids to know that this is their own personal space amidst the craziness of moving as a family.

Things Won’t Be Perfect When Moving as a Family – and That’s Okay

There will be meltdowns. You will have second thoughts. You’ll probably forget to pack certain things. Arguments and disagreements are inevitable. All of these things are normal and it’s okay to be perfectly imperfect during your family move. Sometimes you’ll have to give your kid a timeout and sometimes you’re going to need a timeout of your own. Moving as a couple is hard; moving with kids is even harder. But you CAN do this and things will get better with time. Show yourself some grace and order a pizza for dinner… again.

Simplify Moving Day

Finally, one of the best ways to make your family move simpler is to book a Dolly to help you load and move all of your family’s treasures. Moving day is a big deal and emotions will inevitably run high (for you and your kiddos). When you’re excited about moving and you show your kids your positive attitude, then they’ll feel more comfortable in making this move, too. Let us worry about your furniture and boxes so that you can focus on what’s most important: your family.

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