TEMECULA – Whether or not to relocate can be a difficult decision. Sometimes such decisions are borne out of necessity when a parent is relocated by their company. Other times it is a personal reason to try out a new neighborhood or upgrade to a larger home. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a stable annual rate of moving, which hovers at around 12 percent of the population since 2008.
Whatever reason is behind a move, it can take some time to adjust to both the idea of moving and the new living space – especially for children who may seem disconnected from the decision. The following tips can make the transition a little easier for families.
Talk about it.
Do not blindside children with a move. Begin having conversations as a family as soon as the possibility of moving arises. Involve the children in some of the decisions. Ask about the features they want to see in their new home. Explain that people, be it prospective buyers, real estate agents or movers, will be visiting your current home and that this process may be a little disruptive. Talk about the reasons for the move, such as a new job or that the family has outgrown the space. Children can process much more than many adults give them credit for.
Discuss any concerns.
Children may have concerns about the move that differ from adults. Many of these concerns may pertain to fears about making new friends or coursework at a new school. Let them voice their opinions. Removing some of the mysteries by visiting schools or local hangouts before the move is made can assuage some fears.
Create some familiarity.
Set aside boxes or bins that will house children’s toys or things that the family recognizes. These items may include photographs, games, throw blankets or the creature comforts of home. Make these the first items that are unpacked upon moving into the new house.
Use the real estate agent as a resource.
Many real estate agents live in the towns where they make their living. Find out if the agent can set up a meet-and-greet session with neighbors or if they know of any clubs or leagues that suit the family’s interests. Making a few introductions ahead of time will give children and adults some familiar faces on their first days in their new home.
Families shouldn’t shy away from making their own introductions as well. Knocking on a few neighbors’ doors and letting them know a new family is coming to the street can pave the way for familiarity and friendships.
Stay in touch with old friends.
Encourage children to stay in touch with their current friends. Video chat enables children to see and speak with peers. When things settle after the move, arrange for a surprise play date where children can introduce their old friends to newer ones.
Stick to a routine.
One of the ways to breed familiarity is to stick to the same routine. If a big Sunday family dinner was the norm, continue the tradition in your new home. Wake up in the morning and go to bed at the same time as before the move. According to Vanessa Lapointe, a registered psychologist in Surrey, British Columbia, structure and routine are key for children. Try to focus on one new thing at a time to minimize stress.
Moving can be exciting and scary at the same time. Children may be anxious about the process, but families can work together to iron out the kinks and settle into their new homes successfully.