A Practical Guide to Moving with Children
While moving is stressful for adults, the corresponding anxiety it can cause children is even more pervasive and lingering.
In many cases, the stress children experience from leaving behind friends and favorite places far eclipses the anxiety over leaving their physical home for another.
This article was created to assist individuals and families with this reality.
Tips to help ease the transition for your children.
Preparing yourself and your children:
By properly preparing for your move, you can reduce the stress for your children (and thus yourself) by developing a plan of:
- When to tell your children
- How to tell them
- How to select the right town, city or neighborhood based upon your needs and interests
- When to pack
- When to declutter
- When to move out
- When to move in
Deciding whether renting or owning is best for your children’s development.
While numerous studies assert owning a home provides a developmental advantage for children, other studies claim the overall stability of the family and neighborhood weigh more heavily.
Breaking the News to Your Children.
Select the right time and place, where you put aside at least an hour, and encourage your children to fully respond regarding their thoughts and feelings.
Exploring the Reasons for the Move.
- If possible, avoid the use of negative reasons that may be forcing the move. “We are sick of this neighborhood.”
- Stress the positive reasons. “I think we will all be happier there…”
Involve Your Children in the Relocating Process
During the town/home selection process consider:
- Give assignments to your children such as researching towns, schools, recreational activities and homes (establish price range), but only if you are confident your children will be able to accept your final decision on where you will move.
- Assign each child the responsibility of preparing their individual room for the move.
- Ask your children to research the services and recreational activities that are important to them.
- Plan with your children how to manage saying goodbye to friends and establishing an ongoing communication plan with them.
- Organize some of their favorite activities before you leave and research how these favorite activities can be continued in the next town or city.
Make use of technology with your children:
Use technology to begin to excite and familiarize your children through aerial and video footage of all the new area has to offer. Encourage your children to send links to their friends that show where their next town is located, what it offers, and invite them to visit.
Determine what type of neighborhood is best for your child’s development and your parenting.
Consider whether you want your child to live in a more densely populated area with sidewalks, where houses are within walking distance and where the community looks out for one another. Or do you want a more remote neighborhood, where you need to drive your child everywhere, but where he or she is closer to nature?
The best time to move.
The prevailing consensus is that the best time to relocate school-aged children is during the summer so they can start school with the rest of their class. Some say it also can be a benefit to move during the school year when teachers can devote greater attention to the transitional needs of the child. When a choice is possible, another consideration is to move when the destination is enjoying its greatest seasonal appeal or moving from when the seasonal appeal is lowest.
Visiting the new town or home before moving.
Oftentimes, it is helpful to visit a potential new town, city, neighborhood or home before moving to
“tenderize” the relocation process for children. If this is not possible, try to gain a video of the town or city. In addition to asking your children which home they are interested in, ask your children what they would like their next town, city, or neighborhood to offer.
Children know best.
Attempt to learn as much as possible from children who already live there. For preschool children, upon moving, try to host a “new friend welcoming party.” This way, your child can learn from other children and see how happy they are living there.
Moving with children who have special needs.
Research how committed the school district is, not only to special needs students in general, but your child’s specific special need. Are there other special needs students and are their needs being properly responded to? Can you talk to parents of children with similar special needs in the school or district?
How helpful are school reports?
Focus on the school’s ability to maximize the development of your child based upon individual needs, interests, and aptitude. Educational reports might not provide all the necessary information as it varies widely how school systems define AP classes and what percentage of students take certain reported tests. Additional information may be needed.