Given our society’s mobility and the globalisation of the economy, people tend to follow the best job opportunities that they can find, which often means moving a long distance to further their careers. Others move in order to be closer to family members, friends, or to take advantage of educational opportunities. Relocation is a fact of life for many families today. However, drastic changes in a family, such as moving far from where they live, can have especially harsh effects on children. If you are moving with young children and you are worried about how they will adjust to their new home, then consider the following suggestions.
Provide your children with specific information prior to the move.
If they are old enough to understand maps, show them where your new neighbourhood (and perhaps the house itself) is located. Explain the geography of the area and the specific location of the home, indicating, for example, whether it is in the middle of a large city or on a cul-de-sac in the suburbs.
Familiarise yourself and your children with the local community.
After showing them a map of your new neighbourhood, you could point out nearby landmarks such as schools, stores, parks, and other places of interest. Help them visualise where they will be living in relation to the rest of the area. Show them the major roads and figure out driving distances to some common destinations. If you will be using public transportation, you could start teaching them the bus or train routes.
Introduce the new living space.
Show the children photos or descriptions of your new home. Help them visualise the layout and start to think about what their bedrooms might look like. This will help them see that you have considered their feelings, and that they have some control over the decisions that affect them.
Take advantage of technology and other available resources.
Visit the web sites of places that your family will get to know, such as schools and the public library. Look for interesting activities sponsored by local organisations such as the Parks and Recreation Department. You can get additional information about community events from the Chamber of Commerce. Encourage your kids to become actively involved in their new community.
Once you arrive, make the new home feel inviting.
Help your children unpack important items right away. Having access to their favorite toys, stuffed animals, or other important belongings will help them feel more secure and confident in an unfamiliar environment. This will benefit children of all ages, but it is especially important for younger kids, who might be more sensitive to extreme changes.
Nurture their former interests and encourage new ones.
If your children were involved in sports, music, play groups, or other activities prior to moving, encourage them to continue pursuing those interests in the new place. Meeting other kids their own age could help ease their feelings of loneliness.
Preserve important family traditions.
Even though you all are living in a brand new place, which will require some adjustment, try to keep some customs and activities the same. Routines are very important for young children, and maintaining regular habits will help them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. For example, the tradition of ordering pizza and renting a movie on Friday nights should be easy to continue in your new home.
Moving to a new home is one of life’s most stressful events, regardless of whether your family plans to move across town or across the country. It requires a period of adjustment for everyone, parents and children alike. But if you take the time to anticipate the unique needs of your young children, you can make a long-distance move less traumatic and more exciting for them.
Moving to a new home takes a toll on families, especially those with young children who may not understand what you are doing and why. They thrive on routine and familiarity, so it is important to plan ahead and to create a sense of security in your new home. This article contains useful tips for parents who are planning a family relocation.
Have you moved with children? Share your tips with other mums