It’s settled. Plans for your upcoming move are officially in motion. Your current home is on the market; packing boxes stand ready in the wing. You’ve done due diligence; safely whisked away personalized family photos and de-cluttered with a critical, objective eye.
Still, you’ve got worries. Will your current home sell without major complications? Can you keep to the timetable at hand? Will your boss honor her promise of flexible work hours while you mitigate relocation issues? And most importantly, how are the kids going to handle all this?
We can help with that one. Read on for helpful tips and practical advice to get — and keep — children on board during a family move. Perhaps you’ll discover that by doing so, your overall transition will be considerably smoother as well.
As tempting as it might be to keep the kids in the dark initially, and present your move only after all the exciting, adventurous aspects are in place — don’t. To a child, packing up your things and saying goodbye to friends is not like finding a new puppy under the Christmas tree, or ripping a troublesome band-aid off in one quick swipe. There is no immediate joy or relief.
Present your move realistically in an age-appropriate manner. Discuss the “why” first. This way your kids won’t intuitively wonder if the need to relocate has anything to do with them, and consequently believe there’s something they can do to prevent it.
Stay away from child-oriented rationales like having more room to play or being close to a beach. The kids will discover these perks on their own, but only after they’ve effectively faced their initial tentative feelings and concerns.
Open communication is vital. You may be surprised to discover learning more upfront when you listen constructively before speaking. Children don’t like to feel scared, nervous or sad. When they do, it’s important to validate their reality and help identify their emotions clearly. Sometimes that’s all it takes to move things forward towards a more positive state.
Problem-solve together, assuming they can just as easily come up with effective moving strategies as you. After all, you may see the wisdom in packing their rooms up and shipping out as quickly as possible. But your children may suggest “camping” leisurely in the family room with a few treasured items while their rooms are being dismantled — an adventurous start to their new adventure!
Encourage A Sense of Mastery
Now that you’ve got the kids in forward-looking mode encourage their assistance with child-appropriate tasks. Children love to be involved, and for sure you’ve got a lot on your list. Consider appointing one child “The Official Box Labeler” and another “Packing Supply Runner.”
When assembly-line duties lose their novelty, suggest they create a picture or write themselves a note to hide in a box as a special unpacking treasure. Turn frustrating organizational chores into a scavenger hunt with challenges like “Find every tool that’s not in the shed where its supposed to be,” or “Gather all the extra school supplies we haven’t opened yet.”
Anything you can do to give your children a feeling of control and purpose during this time of transition is helpful. Consider looking into school and extracurricular activity possibilities. You may find unexpected opportunities that genuinely excite or attract them.
How about their new rooms? Can you graph out the dimensions and structural features? If so, start tossing around ideas for updated furniture pieces and design elements. See if you can find time to grab paint chips from your local home improvement center so the kids can consider color combinations.
A great way to streamline the packing process and maintain effective clutter control is to organize family memorabilia into albums or shadow boxes. Perhaps you’ve discovered a gazillion collected seashells and interestingly-colored rocks. There’s certainly no need to pack them all. Instead, work with your children to a create a means of encapsulating all the memories meaningfully with just a few chosen articles.
Look at you! Packing with the children by your side, planning while memorializing treasures of the past. Puts a new spin on the phrase — you go, girl!
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.