Moving tends to be stressful under the best of circumstances even if the move is only one town over. Now add the fact that you are moving across the country and throw in a few kids and the stress levels shoot right off the top of the charts. There are ways that you can make these moves less traumatic and lessen the stress levels for everyone.
Talk about the Move: Early, Often and Positively
Unless you have infants or toddlers, the worst thing that you can do is to spring a move on a child. They may notice that you are doing things like packing or talking to realtors on a frequent basis. Talk to your child about the possibility of a move as soon as there is one.
- Use simple and straightforward language
- Don’t minimize their negative emotions but offer ways to help ease their fear, sadness, and anger as much as possible
- Offer tips for keeping in touch with friends
- Speak about positives regarding the new location
Packing and Sorting Through Belongings
Letting your child pick belongings can be key to making the new place feel like “home.” If space is limited, set a clear limit of how many of each item can be saved. For instance, give your child a box and tell him that he can only take the toys that will fit inside of it. Not only will this give him a sense of control over the situation but may also occupy him as he makes his choices.
You may also suggest giving away toys and clothing to friends and family so that they can remember the child. This may help to ease the sense of loss.
The move can be broken down into two parts: the journey and the destination. It is important that no matter how you get there, you minimize the stress on the child which in turn will minimize the stress on everyone else.
- Bring toys and activities. Remember batteries and headphones or earbuds for each child
- Pack light snacks and bottled water so that there are fewer needs to stop
- Plan on bathroom breaks and allow for a few minutes of stretching for everyone
- Bring cozy blankets and neck pillows to encourage napping
By Train, Bus or Plane
Remember, you will have less control of the situation when you use public transportation of any kind. You will have rules about what you can bring with you as well as others to consider. If you can bring a game for your child, make sure that they are using headphones and that the volume is not too loud. Discuss expected behavior before boarding and remind them of what will be happening, for instance, that the plane will be really loud during takeoff and that their ears may hurt for a few minutes.
Although you cannot prepare for everything that might happen in this type of move, you can cover the major issues and minimize stress.