Moving can be one of the most stressful activities you can undertake in your lifetime. This is particularly true if it is the first time you are moving, if you have a lot of items, if you are moving a long distance, or if you are moving with a family. Combine any of these things, and that just exacerbates the stress you can feel undertaking this task.
Moving with kids is probably the most stressful of these items, primarily because it requires extra physical and emotional energy to go smoothly. Although several things go into planning a move, here are seven essential tips for managing a long-distance move with children.
Make a Plan Ahead of Your Move
Once you’ve made the decision to move, there are a lot of additional choices you must make. This is especially true if you are moving to another state or country. The most important thing you can do is sit down with your partner and make a plan for your move. How long do you have until you need to be out of your house? Will you be driving or flying or a combination of both to get to your new destination? Will you be hiring movers or handling the packing and moving yourselves? How will you divvy up responsibilities between the two of you?
Being able to refer back to a pre-set plan throughout your moving process will significantly lessen the stress between the two of you. It will also allow you to talk to your kids about all the necessary steps of the move since you will know what is going on yourselves, thereby making them feel less anxious about what could be the first stressful event of their short lives.
A few critical things to remember as you are making your plan. Be sure to change your address at least a few weeks ahead of the move and forward your mail through USPS. This goes for any bills, newspaper or magazine accounts, and personal correspondence. Consider sending an updated address notification to your friends and family members who send written correspondence to you. You could even ask your friends and family to write letters or cards to your kids and send them to the new address so when you all arrive, there is mail waiting for you. This can help your children feel like the new house is their home and not just a strange place.
Additionally, if you decide to pack your things yourself, color coding or numbering boxes by room will make the unpacking process much easier. This applies if you are using movers who may arrive at your destination before you do. The last thing you want to do when you are trying to get oriented and organized in a new place is worry about which boxes go where. This can also help you avoid marking boxes as valuable, which could make them prime targets for thieves.
Communicate with All Members of Your Family
Be sure to tell everyone in your family about the move as soon as you know it is happening and to keep them in the loop about the plan. Obviously, younger children will require less information than older ones, but they may have additional anxiety if they do not understand what is going on. Telling them all the exciting things about moving, including fun activities in your new neighborhood, new friends, and building up the fun and adventure of traveling, will help decrease their apprehension and increase their enthusiasm about their new home.
Understand Different Impacts on Different Ages
It is important to realize that moving long distances will likely have different effects on your children from various ages. Although younger children may have more anxiety, initially, because they do not understand the concept of moving, they have not had the time to build up and maintain serious friendships and memories in the way older children may have. As a teenager, fitting in feels like the most important thing in the world and having to start over again in a new place can seem very daunting.
Be sure to maintain open lines of communication with your teenager throughout the moving process since they may go through the emotional spectrum. Children who move regularly may also have a different reaction than those who are doing it for the first time and are unaccustomed to the idea. Try to be patient and understanding as you all go through this hectic time.
Have a Road Trip Plan
If you and your family are driving to your new home and have a little time before you must get there, make a fun road trip out of it by stopping at some destinations along the way. Depending on your family’s interests, you can see National Parks, go to theme parks, visit family, camp, or even do sporting activities along the way.
While you are in the car, be sure to have things for the kids to do to avoid anxiety and arguments, like car trip games, videos, and music.
Ask for Help
You and your partner may be the type of people who prefer to do things yourselves. However, a long-distance move can be intimidating even under the best circumstances, so you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to others and ask for help. The type of aid you need can be anything from going through your things to give away, to assistance packing boxes, to even asking someone to help unpack in your new location. If you are utilizing your friends or family, be sure to clarify with them ahead of time what tasks you’ll need them to do.
Additionally, if you do decide moving everything yourself is too much, many people use professional movers for long distance moves. If you and your family choose to go this route, do some research ahead of time before you commit to a company. Search the internet for reviews, ask your friends or family in the area, and don’t be afraid to give the company a call to discuss their rates and logistics.
Get Your Kids’ Rooms in Order First
When you arrive at your new destination, make it a priority to unpack your kid’s items first. Although this may not be the most convenient thing to do, and may end up taking a bit more time, in the long run, it will absolutely help your children feel less anxious in their new home if they have their own things around. It will also help for them to have a place to go and play while you and your partner are busy unpacking the rest of the house.
Providing this sense of routine from the beginning will also lend itself to continuing this routine in the new location.
Explore Your New Neighborhood
After a long-distance move, everything is new. Take advantage of the opportunity to bring your family together and get to know your new neighborhood by exploring some of the sights and participating in activities. If you moved to a new country, this could be even more significant, as you may have an entirely new culture to explore. Show your kids the positives about your new destination and, soon, they’ll be just as excited as you are to be there.
Long distance moves can be tough, especially with kids. They could be anxious about the move and what it will mean for their lives, so ensuring you keep open lines of communication and try to encourage the positive aspects of moving will go a long way toward making things go smoothly throughout the moving process.
Author Bio: Ross Burgess is a freelance writer and graphic designer residing in California with his wife and daughter. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Ross attended design school at SCAD. By day he is climbing the corporate ladder, but by night he sheds his suit to get creative and write, which is his favorite hobby. When he's not working or blogging you can catch him at the beach with his family and chocolate lab Scooter.