Each year, one in five families moves to a new home. Planning a move can be both exciting and sad, causing stress for you and your children. Your attitude will greatly affect the attitudes of your children. Reassure them that they are not the cause for your stress and look for ways to make the move a positive one.
Before the move
- If possible, consider delaying a move following an upsetting event, such as a death or divorce in the family.
- Model an optimistic attitude about the change. Try to stay positive even if the move is not a choice but a necessity because of financial reasons or an unwanted job transfer.
- Talk with your children about the new home. Answer their questions and encourage them to discuss any concerns. If possible, visit the new home and neighborhood ahead of the move. If it’s too far, show them pictures in a book or on a website.
- Reassure toddlers and preschoolers the family will be together in the new home, if true.
- Read children’s books about moving and play a pretend game of moving to a new home.
Making the move
- Encourage toddlers and preschoolers to help pack some belongings. Be sure they understand that their toys and clothes will be moved to the new home.
- Keep your child’s eating and sleeping routine as consistent as possible. Be sure she can hold on to her favorite blanket or toy.
- Let your child’s age, personality, and safety help you decide whether to have him with you on moving day or have him stay with a friend or relative. Some children will find it exciting while others will be upset by the confusion. Some may experience less fear by staying with the parent on moving day.
After the move
- Make the new home feel more welcoming by setting up your child’s space as soon as possible. Familiar meals, books, and music can help her feel at home.
- Delay other changes, such as toilet training or moving a child from a crib to a bed, until he feels at home in the new setting.
- Encourage your child to share her feelings. She may not understand until after the move that she won’t be going back to her old school or neighborhood or friends.
- Help your child connect to the new community by meeting new neighbors. Take advantage of community resources such as library story times.
- If he is in preschool, talk with the teacher about ways to ease his entry into the class.
- Keep in mind that research indicates it can take up to 16 months for children and adults to adjust to a move. The first two weeks are usually the most stressful.
- Be patient if your child is more clingy than usual. Her caution around strangers can be a sign of her attachment to her family. Some behavior typical of children younger than her age is common.
- Be sure to reassure your child often that you love him and will be there to take care of him in his new home.