Is It Downsizing Time?







Moving with Children:

Planning a move and moving with children is a bigger challenge than carrying out a house-moving plan on your own or with other adults.  Not only are there perhaps special considerations while traveling between houses, if it's a distance, but the upset to children's lives is likely to be more than to your own.

See if there is anything on this list that you haven't thought about...

  • Preparing the way:  Be sure to talk about the move with even young children, telling them why it's important for you to go... but also stress that it's a new adventure that will have benefits for everyone.  Assure them that they needn't lose track of neighborhood and school friends because of the change in addresses.  Find out what you can about your kids' new school/s and teacher/s, if any, before arriving (and if possible, drive to the school and even introduce your child to his or her new teacher beforehand).  If it's feasible, let your children participate in the house-hunting and in exploring your new environs (at a minimum, take your camera along and use it lavishly for their sakes).
  • When to go:  If your kids are still in grade school, and you have an option in timing of your move, you might want to discuss the choices with them...  Moving during the summer break may seem convenient - but unless you go at the end of their break, it will mean their giving up time with their friends and then arriving in a new place at a time when it's hard to make new ones.  Though a child might dread walking into a new classroom in the middle of the session, it's a ready-make social set, and s/he might make friends more readily being the new interest for the whole class.  (Little enough will be in your child's control during your move - the more choices they're allowed to participate in, the better!)
  • Keep them involved and communicating:  Check in with the kids from time to time about any worries they may have about the move.  Ensure that they get to say goodbye to the people who are important to them locally.  Get them involved in weeding out their own possessions, planning what their new room will look like, and pre-packing some boxes of their own stuff.  If you're going to have a yard sale, get them involved in that, and turn it into a party.  
    Your kids will want to select some items to have handy on the trip and for the first few days after arrival at the new house (e.g., toys, music, games, books to read, perhaps food treats, and the like, as well as what they'll wear).  If they're beyond infancy, assign them one or more tasks to take care of during the move (for instance, even a toddler can watch out for the dog, or bring others water to drink during the moving-in process).
    Be understanding of extra emotionality during this process.  (Remember how you felt, if you had to move during your childhood?  I sure do! - five times, in fact.)  Try to keep up your family meals, and even outings, despite the pressure to get ready to leave.
  • During the move:  Decide ahead of time whether or not you'll want your kids intimately involved in packing/loading on moving day or whether they'd be happier on a last excursion with friends while that particular stress is going on.  
    I don't know about you, but family singing en route to anywhere really helped me cope as a child.  Moving day is never easy... and surely some reward will be deserved by everybody! - plan it ahead so everyone can look forward to it.  (What about having pizza delivered and eating it in your pajamas... while trying to think of the funniest things that happened that day?  And/or perhaps everyone gets to go shopping for a new outfit before their wardrobes are unpacked?)
  • In the aftermath:  Be sure that the kids know your new address and phone number at the earliest opportunity - and how to make emergency calls, if different from your previous home.  Go exploring in your new environs - including the schools, the library (introduce them to the children's librarian), the police and fire stations, the park/s and community pool, and any other facilities of particular interest to your kids.  Look for fun things to do and unusual things to remark upon in the neighborhood.  Try to find out where the kids could go to meet others with similar interests, other than school.  Place more emphasis on delving into the new area than on unpacking everything right away.
    Talk about everybody's new concerns (school, work, pet insecurities, perhaps grief over losses, etc.) - let the kids know that they aren't the only ones experiencing temporary anxieties or insecurities.  Talk about your dreams?  Inquire about insomnia or nightmares - it helps to talk about these troubles.  It may take awhile for a child to adjust to a new home if there's been a change in schools; remember that this is big.  If you have teenagers, it's probably especially important for them to be able to continue to communicate with their old friends - but younger children might need to be given some impetus to get in touch with those they've left behind.
    Meanwhile, get everybody involved to some degree in organizing and decorating the new house. ...And perhaps participating in the planning of how to utilize the money saved in downsizing?




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BACK TO:  Moving, out and in


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