As a mom and military spouse, you know that moves can be an extremely challenging time for your family. Emotional stresses can take their toll on children during and after relocations. Good communication, taking time for play and engaging in stress-relief activities are ways that you can help your children during this time.
Show your kids what’s wonderful about their new neighborhood by exploring shortly before or after the move. Go for walks, meet the neighbors and trek to businesses in the area. Point out beautiful or wonderful features that you notice about your new home. Express your positive feelings as you explore with your children.
Do the same within the broader community. You’ll be busy shortly after your relocation, but don’t let that stop you from visiting the kid-friendly places in town. Taking time for recreation in your new community will help your children relax and may endear your new home to your children.
Talk About Feelings
Encourage your children to share their feelings. You can do this by asking them questions or by verbalizing your feelings and inviting them to do the same. Either way, if you can get your children to discuss how they feel, this may lessen some of their anxiety and fears about the move.
When inviting your children to talk, be sure to listen to what they say. Resist the urge to solve all their problems. Just hearing what they have to say can help them feel validated and respected.
Get Them Involved
Upon moving to your new house, sign your kids up for activities in the area that they would enjoy. This will provide your children with an opportunity to make friends while giving them an outlet for the anxiety they might be feeling about their move.
If you’re moving in the middle of the school year, getting your kids involved may be a challenge. Some programs only allow children to sign up during a specific window. Planning and signing them up before your arrival can help make the transition easier.
Let Them Help
Let your children help with packing and unpacking. This keeps them busy during a time of stress and gives them some feeling of control over the events happening in their home. It also frees a little time for you, so you can spend more moments with your kids and less time packing.
Give your children parameters before asking them to pack. Show them how to label their boxes. Tell them to pack heavy items into small boxes, and light items into large boxes. If you’re expecting your children to sort and downsize, give them instructions about this as well.
Let Them Design Their Space
Kids love to express themselves. Allowing your children to set up and decorate their rooms gives them that opportunity. Let them paint their rooms, if they’re old enough. If they’re not old enough to paint, let them choose the color.
Allow your children to pick where their furniture will be, how their bed will be positioned and other important details. If you can do it without inciting an argument, allow your children to pick which bedroom is theirs. Doing this gives your kids ownership over their space.
Keep Up Routine
Routines are important to young children. While you’re packing and unpacking, maintain their routines the best you can. Send them to bed at the same time, wake them at the same time, and feed them the same meals as you normally would.
Doing this helps your children feel safe in a changing environment. Keeping up routines also shows your children that life will go back to normal.
Children may have a hard time keeping in touch with friends once they move. Visit your old neighborhood from time to time, so your children can see their friends. If your children are young, ask them if they would like to send letters. Younger children may need reminders that they have this ability.
Preschoolers and early grade schoolers often make friends easily through play dates. Get to know fellow moms of young children in your neighborhood, then bring your kids to their house during visits. Fostering relationships will help your children transition into their new home.
Following these suggestions, you should be able to help your children acclimate to their new home. When in doubt, remember to be patient. Children need time to adjust to major changes.
Helping Kids Before And After A Move created by Ward North American
Author bio: Kate Houston is Director of Client Services at Ward North American. She attended Minot State University, and has more than 25 years of experience in the transportation and relocation industry.
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