Adults are used to changes in their lives, starting over in new places, making job moves, but children are not. Children thrive in routine and security. Making a move can upset the family dynamics, at least temporarily.I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Move Advocate Coaches to discuss the multiple ways families can limit the stress to their children. Here are some of the suggestions that they have offered to our transferee’s and their families.
1. Hold a family meeting – Sometimes we get caught up in “adult talk” and do not realize that little ears are picking up everything we are saying and not saying. Once you know the move is imminent, sit down with the children to have an open family discussion. Present the move to them as a positive thing and that you are looking forward to the adventure as a family.
2. Explain the absence of one parent – If one of the parents has to move before the family, discuss this transition with the children as well. The absence of one parent can really upset younger children because they may not fully comprehend where that person has gone. Try to set up family calls through Skype regularly so the children can visually see and talk to the absent parent. Meanwhile, ensure they understand that it is a temporary situation.
3. Make the unknown Known – Children can be very scared of the unknown or what they do not understand. If it is possible, take the children to the new area and show them around. Oftentimes, you can schedule a tour of the school and meet the teachers. Ask the teacher to introduce them to a future classmate. With any luck, they will be fast friends later. If you have already selected a home to purchase, show pictures to the children and let them pick out the paint colors and the décor of their room. This will engage them more in the move and give them something to look forward to.
4. Maintain organization and consistency – There are so many things to do before a move that it is easy to forget "family pizza night", bedtime stories and play dates. However, children will be more stressed by the situation if the family routine is not maintained. Make every attempt to eat dinner as a family and participate in the neighborhood events until you move. This will help with the family dynamics and also give the children the additional feeling of security that they need.Moving can be stressful for the whole family, but with a good plan, it can also be an adventure that everyone can look forward to.