How to prepare your children for the long move

Let’s be honest, moving with kids is tough. You need to be sensitive to their needs, but you also need to do the work tied to your move. Sometimes you can prepare them for it, but sometimes you will have no choice but to move. Also, preparing your kids well for the move will help you reduce stress. On the other hand, children that are not ready to move will cause you even more panic than you might already have. You will need to deal with their needs as well as work through all your arrangements, which is not a pleasant experience. In this article, we give you some helpful tips on how to prepare your children for the long move.

Think about whether you really need to move

A lightbulb in a thought cloud.
Think about whether it’s a right time to move.

The first thing you need to decide is whether it actually is the right time to move. It takes children a long time to deal with change – they prefer to stay in constant environments. Moving changes their school, their friend circles and their everyday activities. This can be very scary, especially for children who are a bit shy or not confident.

You need to decide if the time is right for your child. For example, you might want to avoid moving when there has been a huge change in the family – like a death or divorce. These are pretty big events in any kids life, and they need time to adjust to them. Trying to prepare your children for the long move during times such as these can be even harder than when there is nothing happening.

We advise you to start talking to your child a month before the move. However, if you need to move suddenly, then it’s of utmost importance to be optimistic and positive. Your children learn a lot just by looking and copying you, so how you deal with the move will influence how they do it a lot.

Prepare your children for the long move by talking to them

The best way to prepare your kids for the long move is to simply talk to them. You need to be open and honest with them. Answer all their questions, and be accepting of both positive and negative reactions that the news will cause. Make sure they realize that although this is a big change, the important things will stay constant in their lives. The family will always be there, and you can even try to get their new room to be as similar as it can be to their current room.

A man speaking in a can - talking helps when you are trying to prepare your children for the long move.
It’s important to talk to your kids.

You should also try to integrate your children in the moving process. They might want to help you go house hunting, or looking into new schools for them. This will make them feel involved and will help ease their minds and give them a sense of control. If you are moving locally, you can take them to the new neighborhood and spend the day exploring it. Find the playgrounds and parks you can visit, and various other activities for them to do once you move.

If your move is a long distance one, then try to learn as much about your new city or country with them. Talk about different cultures and people, languages, food, and the community you will live in. Explore various options for children activities online with them.

Children of different ages handle long moves differently

Just like every child is different, so there is a vast gap between the children of different ages. Kindergartners react differently to teens who react differently to school kids. Thus, there are different approaches on how to prepare your children for the long move based on their age.

Prepare your toddlers for the long move

It is easiest to move children under the age of six. Their capacity to understand everything that is happening is quite limited. This is why you need to keep all explanation pretty short, simple and clear. You can also make a story about the move, or explain it using the toys. Bringing it to the way they will understand (and enjoy) will ease the stress significantly.

However, there are also things you need to look out for. For example, when packing their toys, make sure your children realize you are not throwing them away. When arranging furniture in their new bedrooms, it might be a good idea to have it in the same position (you can even use the same furniture). This way, you will provide comfort and familiarity that your kids will need during the move.

School-age kids and long moves

The school-age kids are also pretty open to the move. However, do keep an eye on how they are behaving, because they might be hiding some negative emotions.

When it comes to this age group, you also need to think about when you will be moving them. If you do it during the summer, they will not miss out on school, but there might be fewer opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. On the other hand, you can move them mid-year. Depending on how open your kid is to making new friends, and how flexible your moving schedule is, you can make a decision.

Moving teenagers

Teens hanging out at a playground.
Teens can be the hardest children to move.

Finally, a lot can be said about moving teenage kids. At this age, children tend to rebel against their parents and might want to cause problems during the move. It’s important to let them know that the move is happening, but also to be open for their concerns. Be aware that they have a social circle and a friend group, which includes a developed safety system. They might even be involved in a romantic relationship. Acknowledging this is a big change in their lives will help you ease the transition for them.

In order to prepare your children for the long move, you can even arrange for them to visit their schools back during prom or big events. If your teen is finishing school, you can even try to arrange for them to stay with a relative for some time until they are done.