How To Prepare Your Kids for Moving Day

Amid the stacks of legal documents waiting to be signed, the stresses of last-minute negotiations, and the unappealing prospect of packing up all your belongings, sometimes the children -- and the feelings they're encountering -- get lost in the shuffle. As you prepare to move, you'll want to make a concerted effort to ensure your children are in the loop. While they may be going about their normal routine with no visible sign of anxiety, it's there -- or will be there -- once the big day arrives. After all, moving means change -- new friends, a new school, new places to go, and a new set of concerns and worries.

There are many things you can do to help your child -- whether you have a 3-year-old or a 16-year-old -- ease the transition. One of the most important -- and difficult -- things that can help your child is keeping your own stress level down. Kids pick up on parental emotions. If you're apprehensive or nervous, kids will mimic that behavior. However, if you're cool and confident, kids are more likely to be, too.

Also, no matter how old your children, be sure to talk about the upcoming move at all stages of the process. Kids need time to warm up to new ideas and get adjusted to major changes in their lives. Talk to children about the changes to expect, answer questions, and make sure that children understand you're willing to discuss their concerns at any time.

Some tips to help you prepare your children for the move include:

  • Once you know you will be moving, try to bring your child along when you look at houses so they understand and come to accept that the family will be moving.

  • If you're moving to another part of the province or to a different province, pull out a map and show your child where you'll be moving. Explain any differences in weather or any nearby attractions that may interest the child, such as moving closer to the ocean, the mountains, even close to an amusement park. Look at web sites with information about your new community.

  • Take your child to visit his or her new school. If possible, try to arrange for your child to meet the teacher ahead of time.

  • Gather information on the sports or other extra-curricular activities that interest your child so you know how and when to sign up. For older children involved in high school sports, look at area newspapers to read up on the teams' activities.

  • Before you move, hold a going-away party for your child. Encourage your child to keep contact with his or her old friends while encouraging new friendships.

  • Help your child put together a scrapbook, photo album or journal of your old house and special memories the family shared -- whether it's spent sipping hot chocolate in front of the fireplace or the hidden-away closet that became your child's favorite place for hide-and-seek.

  • When you move into your new home, begin a new keepsake and encourage your child to write about his or her hopes and expectations at the new home.

  • Encourage your child to take part in the moving process as much as possible. Younger children can help back some of their favorite items to help them realize that although the family will be in a new home, their belongings will stay with them.

  • Once you've selected your new house, show your child where his or her room will be. Draw a sketch of the room layout and let your child take part in determining where he or she will place the furniture.

  • If your budget allows, perhaps help your child choose a new decor for the new bedroom. If nothing else, new paint in a bright color is an inexpensive way to brighten up the room and give your child a sense of personalizing his or her new room.

  • For toddler-aged children, speak with pediatricians regarding such issues as the introduction of a new diet or the start of toilet training.

Above all else, communicate with your child throughout the process.

Children are creatures of habit and any disruption in their daily routine will naturally prompt reactions, whether it's a rebellious attitude among teens or tantrums among toddlers. Let them know it's normal to feel sad and anxious, but help them through the transition and emphasize all the wonderful new experiences that lie ahead.