Moving with Kids
Moving is seldom easy for either adults or children. But New Albany is a great place to live and we’d like to make it easier to get the kids excited about the experience.
If children are having difficulty adjusting to the idea of moving, parents can help them put it in proper perspective. A change in houses or communities often means an important step forward for the adult members of the family. The family moves because one or both parents have a great new job or a big promotion.
They move because financial success has allowed them to purchase a bigger, better house in a nicer neighborhood. They move because they can finally afford bedrooms for each child and maybe a pool in the back yard. Nowadays, people typically live in a house for about four years and then move on as their careers allow. That short time span is only a small percentage of the lifetime for a 30- or 40-year-old, but the same four years is half the lifetime of an eight-year-old, and it includes almost all the years he or she can remember. To kids this house may be the only home they have ever known. This is their house; the place where they feel safe and comfortable and thoroughly at home. A house is much more than a roof and walls to a child. It is the center of his or her world. A move threatens to take that security away. The familiar friends, schools, shops and theaters, the streets, trees and parks — all will no longer exist for them. Everything will be different and they will live in someone else's world.
When to Tell the Kids About Changing Homes
The impact of a move on a child usually starts about the time he or she first hears about a possible move and often continues until the new house becomes home, and memories of the previous place fade. Most teenagers see themselves as adult members of the family and will probably feel they have been left out if they don't hear everything from the first day. But it is probably not a good idea to tell toddlers and preschoolers until they have to know. There is no point in making them worry far in advance. Be sure to announce the move in a positive way.
You can do this by saying how proud you are that Mommy or Daddy's company has chosen them to manage a new office in New Albany. Talk about what a beautiful city New Albany is, how good the schools are and how friendly the people are. Tell them about how nice the new house will be. Ask them what the favorite things are in their lives now and then try to recreate them in the new home. If the new house is too far away to allow a visit by the entire family after it has been selected, show the children pictures of it. Videotape it and include pictures of each child’s new room.
Since children can quickly see the negative sides of most situations, parents must plan to deal with their children's worries and fears. The children will leave friends they may have known all their lives. They will leave behind their sports teams, their clubs and their schools. They will have to start over in a new place, making friends, getting accepted and fitting into different groups. Younger children need protection from fear of the unknown. Listen carefully to their concerns and respond quickly to allay their apprehensions. Find those anxieties and address them. Ultimately, kids are fairly resilient especially if parents respond with infinite patience and understanding.
How to Ease the Transition of Moving
The best tactic is to get the children actively involved in the whole process. Don't just promise to let them decorate their own rooms, take them to the paint store and let them bring home color swatches. Shop for comforters and towels and carpets.
They must leave old friends behind, so find ways to make that parting easier. Plan a going-away party and let them invite their own guests. Take pictures of everyone and make a scrapbook. If a child is old enough, send him or her out with a roll of film and a camera with the assignment to photograph the views they will want to remember. Some relationships will be extremely difficult to break and these will demand careful, thoughtful consideration by both parents. How, for instance, do you move a 16-year-old 1,000 miles from her steady boyfriend?
Expect that your children may be even more distressed after the move than they were before it. The new house will not be beautiful the night after the moving van leaves. The furniture may not fit the rooms. The curtains won't be up and every spot on the floor will be covered. The children won't know anyone at school and, if you move during the summer, they may have little opportunity to meet anyone their age. They will need your help and you should plan to give them the support they need. After the move, give each of them a long distance telephone call allowance so they can keep in touch with the people back home who matter the most to them. Buy a stack of picture postcards that show positive views of your new community and encourage them to write good news messages to the friends and relatives they left behind.
To make new friends, make sure the children don't vegetate in front of the television. Get them outside, where neighbors pass by. Have them pass out fliers to do babysitting or car washing. Encourage them to participate in as many school activities as they can handle. Get them on sports teams and into clubs. If they — and you — aren't making new friends fast enough, throw a housewarming party for yourselves and invite all the adults and children on the block.
If serious emotional or attitude problems arise, help is usually available and probably should be sought. Ask a teacher for help. Consider professional counseling. Don't let a serious problem slide. Remember that the newness will wear off. New friends will become old friends and best friends.
This new house may become the family homestead your grandchildren will visit every holiday. There will be discomforts, but in the long run, everything will work out just fine. Optimism and planning are key to a well-adjusted family during a move.