Moving is a big adjustment for adults, but moving with children can be even more challenging, as we found out during our recent relocation from Memphis to Dallas. As you go through the moving process, it’s important to know the challenges your kids will face and to get them involved in the process to help alleviate their concerns; this will help make for an easier transition into a new school and new social circles. Most kids react to a move with a range of behavior and emotions—from curiosity and excitement to sadness and anxiety. Our 11-year-old son Spencer was no exception. He was generally enthusiastic but had his moments of panic and thoughts of “What are my parents doing to me!” While all but the youngest may miss friends, family, and other familiar faces, others may also miss the sense of security they get from familiar places and routines.
7 Tips for Moving with Children
1. Inform children early, and listen to their concerns: Tell your children about moves as soon as you can—you don’t want them hearing about it from someone else—and let them know why the move is important. Be as honest as possible, and listen to their questions or concerns. At the same time, try to be positive and stress the many new opportunities that lie ahead. Your attitude will influence theirs. We told Spencer right away and involved him in the decision-making process as much as possible.
2. Get children involved in the move: Bring children with you on house-hunting trips so they can help choose a home and be on the scene the first time you meet new neighbors and community members. If this isn’t possible, photograph or videotape your new home, as well as the neighborhood and the new school.
3. Keeping old friends: Although it’s a busy time, make it a point to help your kids say goodbye to the important people in their lives and exchange contact information so they can keep in touch with friends from the old neighborhood. With the help of Skype and Xbox Live, Spencer has a fun way to stay connected with his friends in Memphis.
4. Give children ownership: If you’re having a hard time leaving behind your garden or a newly remodeled kitchen, children are feeling the same way about their old bedroom and stomping grounds. Give them ownership of the new house by allowing them to choose a paint color or a new piece of furniture.
6. Making new friends: Once in the new location, give your children a sense of continuity by involving them as quickly as possible in familiar groups and activities such as Scouts, soccer, or school band. As an added bonus, this helps parents meet new friends, too! The more you’re involved in your children’s social activities, the more likely you are to meet like-minded parents. Spencer joined a local lacrosse team, and we all became members of the community aquatic and recreation center.
7. Fitting in at the new school: Your children’s education is important, so don’t hesitate to contact teachers and principals at prospective schools to ask about test scores, special programs, or class size. If it’s a high school, you may also want to ask about accreditation, SAT scores, and the percentage of graduates who go on to attend college.
As for the best time to switch schools … it’s probably not when you think. Most parents assume summer is best, but not always. Why? Because if you move then, it’s often too late to enroll children in camp or other summer programs. Also, neighborhood kids may be on vacation, making it difficult to meet new friends. And if your child is entering a new school at the beginning of the academic year, teachers may be not able to provide much extra attention. Transferring during the school year has its advantages.
We moved about three months after the school year started. Overall, the transition was a smooth one. Spencer’s new school seemed helpful and ready to introduce him to his fellow 6th graders.
Whatever you choose, your attitude and enthusiasm will help make a difference for your children, and so will letting them know what to expect and planning ahead. Have you moved with children before? Leave your tips in the comments, and help another parent.