Since my kids were five until they were 11, we moved almost yearly because of my career, then my husband’s career. While I do NOT recommend that much moving and that many states (and cities)… I’ve learned a thing or two about the proper way to move with kids and to help keep their emotions well through the process. I’ve also learned that moving for a positive change in the family is always the best choice and yes sometimes it is a hard choice but if it overall benefits you (and even if it’s a career move) it’ll eventually benefit your family as well. Here are tips I’ve learned in one city or another.
Discuss the move with them
While I don’t mean ask them is it okay to move, it’s very important to mentally prepare them to do so. That said, as soon as you know the move is happening, it’s time to talk. This way they can plan any last parties, tell their friends and also voice any concerns or questions. During this process I also like to share the positives of the move, is there a new room they can decorate? Can they help find a new home?
I want them to feel very involved in the process even if their selections might not be the final one, I want to them to know they were heard. Early notice also helps if they have any activities they want to do before moving. Prior to moving to Delaware, the second time, my daughter was in a play. We stayed in Milwaukee until her final performance and left the night after. It meant a lot to her to not miss that commitment and planning in advance made sure we could stay.
Help them keep in touch with their friends
I made sure my daughters had phones at an early age but even if yours don’t, email is a really good way for friends to keep in touch as early as they can write! You can make “business cards” with their name and email to give to their friends or share your contact information with their parents to make sure this happens. I joke that my kids will have friends all over the US by the time they are in college as they have done a fairly good job of keeping in touch with friends from other states and some who have even moved themselves.
Don’t “wait” for the school year to end if you don’t need to.
Now I know this one may have some parents giving me the side-eye, but it is my firm opinion that waiting is pointless if you don’t have to do so. Before you send me a mean email understand my reasons! Now, this does not apply to an 8th-grade year or final high school years, definitely finish those years!! The quicker you move, the quicker new friends will be made. Plus it alleviates unnecessary anxiety about the move, the longer a kid has to think about leaving and dread it honestly, the worse the move will be. Making friends over the summer is way harder unless you have amazing neighbors and outgoing kids who can make friends by going outside.
However, in this day and age (and the state of COVID) that isn’t very likely especially if you have middle schoolers (my kids won’t leave the house if I don’t make them take a walk). Therefore I always liked moving before the end of the year so my kids can start at their new school even if just for a quarter to make new friends and establish those friendships over the summer. Plus when it comes to academics, if kids are behind due to different curriculum you have a chance to use the summer to get them on the same page as the new school.
Check-in after the move
This is the most important aspect for me. I like to constantly check-in after a move, multiple times, to see how they are handling the new school, room, and environment. Are there ways I can help? Did they lose a friend’s number I can find? Do they need a mommy date?
Go out of your way to help them make new friends
When we first move I make sure I sign the kids up for all the old activities they used to do immediately! Ballet, gymnastics, voice, guitar whatever they used to take at “home” I ensure they don’t lose that part of their growing up experience and it also helps with making new friends. I am also over accommodating during the first few months. Do they want a friend over (Pre-Covid), sure! Birthday party coming up, you’re there!
Explore the new and cool in the new home town
I like to look up all the fun places the kids may like then each weekend (for a while) let them pick a new place to visit. You can make a book of the fun places so they can visually have pictures and check it off when they are done or for older kids make a virtual list they can contribute to as well and research to see what they’d really love to do.
I’ll stress this over and over, make sure they are adjusting and offer to help however you can.
You’ve got this!