R U Ready 4 Relocation, Kids?
| Moving Tips | Gerry Clark
Congratulations. You’ve made it. Perseverance and hard work have paid off, Mr. New Company Vice President. The promotion will bring financial rewards, but it also requires you pull up stakes and move a thousand miles away.
If you still were single without children, the cross-country move would be a snap. Those days faded years ago. Now, you need to properly prep your entire family for the pending office relocation.
Kids can prove resilient during a change, but they also want reassurance in the midst of moving out of state. The manner in which you prepare children for this big event also will depend on their ages, as effective approaches will differ for preschoolers, school-age children and adolescents. Generally, the older the child, the more likely he’ll perceive an interstate move as a difficult event. (Note: This information is intended for families moving for positive reasons on an infrequent basis. More disruptive events—e.g., divorce or families coping with poverty—or the constant uprooting experienced by military families, might impact children differently or more profoundly.)
Children rely on the stability that routine and familiarity provide. The more you can provide during this non-routine and strange time, the better. Keeping kids informed and involving them in the moving process will help them feel a sense of investment vs. having something imposed on them. The biggest battle probably will be conquering the unknowns surrounding out of state moving.
Perhaps the single best thing is to let kids know about a move as early as possible. Don’t spring the idea on them at the 11th hour, thinking the short notice will spare them anxiety. The more time they have to think about the concept, the more empowered they’ll be to prepare for the upcoming cross-country move mentally.
New school? New friends? New room? Kids will have lots of questions and those queries should be encouraged. Let your children know it’s OK to express themselves. Don’t be caught off-guard if they display signs of anger or sadness or fear. Be accepting of various reactions. Reassure young children the whole family will remain together. (Small children sometimes think parents will leave them behind during an interstate move.) Talk regularly about the cross-country move so children treat it as a concrete event that will occur, not an abstract or hypothetical event.
Visualizing can prove an essential tool in easing children’s anxiety. If possible, obtain photos of the new school, home and town, so kids form a picture in their minds of what life will be like after the cross-country move. Clinical psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D., recommends creating for young children a “moving book,” in which captions are glued to move-related photo printouts, then laminated, three-hole punched and placed in a notebook. This chronicle might start with a family’s current home, then discuss the reason for moving out of state (Dad took a new job) and finish up with anticipated fun activities near the family’s new home. The editor of Ahaparenting.com, Dr. Markham advises reading the “moving book” to children early on in the moving process. Again, the overall idea is to ease into the new move, not make an abrupt change.
Involving kids in the actual packing process also will prove helpful. If you’re packing your items instead of leaving that work to your interstate movers, inform your children that the toys or dolls being placed in that cardboard box are being sent to your new home. Encourage them to write their names on boxes and even decorate them. Not only will these activities keep the little ones busy, but children will feel good knowing their boxes will stand out and quickly be found once you’ve moved into your new home.
Request your moving company place the children’s items last on the moving truck, so they’ll be unloaded first at your destination. Setting up the children’s rooms right away creates a safe haven for little ones while you’re busy unpacking and placing items throughout the rest of your home.
While clearing the clutter before the cross-country move certainly can be advantageous, sometimes kids will react negatively to giving up items. Tread lightly here. Don’t force the issue. Keeping a child’s familiar possessions, such as bedroom furniture, might help them settle into their new home. Once the child feels secure, then updating with a new bed and dresser would be OK.
The “friendship factor” can prove a tough one for teens. Explain to your adolescent that you also will be working to stay close with family and friends across the miles. Discuss when a return trip might be a possibility. Today’s technology permits teens to use online tools, such as Skype, to stay connected to lifelong friends. This contact might ease the separation blues. Teens and younger children should be permitted the opportunity to tell friends and family members “goodbye” in a calm, unhurried setting. That’s another reason why planning a move ahead of time is a good idea.
Of course, office relocation-related moves don’t always land on neat-and-tidy dates, either, such as the start or end of a school year. Prom or concert schedules might conflict with the interstate move. If an event is purely social, it might have to be lost to the cause. However, should a move coincide with a high-school student’s important exam, ACT or SAT, a solution might be to permit the teen to stay behind with a relative until after such a significant event.
National Van Lines is dedicated to making your long-distance moving experience easier. As a national moving company, we’ve been helping families move memories for nearly 90 years. Contact us online or call 877-590-2810 for answers to your moving questions plus a free quote.