Family & Parenting

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How to make moving easier on kids

Moving can be an adventure for Mom and Dad, but children may not have such an enthusiastic outlook. While there is no way to be certain how kids will react to the news of the family uprooting itself, parents can take steps to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.

Estimates suggest that one in five American families move each year. The 2011 Canadian Census has indicated that Canadians are doing their fair share of moving as well. For the first time ever, more Canadians are living west of Ontario than in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. While many of those who are moving are singles or couples, families are finding they may have to move to pursue job opportunities or to find neighborhoods that are a better fit for growing families.

Moving can be disruptive and put added stress on all members of the family. While adults may understand the end gain of moving, children may find relocating to be particularly traumatic. With their children's routines and familiar surroundings being changed on a constant basis until the move, parents can explore some strategies to make the transition more tolerable.

* Inform children early on. Involve children in the moving process from the get-go. Children need ample time to acclimate to the idea of moving, and informing them early on allows them to adjust. It also gives children time to approach their parents or caregivers with questions or concerns about the move.

* Be open to questions. Children are bound to have questions about the move. Kids will likely want to know why the family has to move and what will happen to their friends and classmates? Parents can prepare for these questions and jot down answers that help kids feel more positive about the move. Answer all questions to alleviate any insecurities kids might have.

* Remain positive. Sometimes a family decision to move is made for them, such as when a family relocates for a new job or because of a layoff or home foreclosure. Other children have to move because their parents are separating. Children take their cues from their parents, and therefore parents should try to present the move in the best light possible and be enthusiastic about the new opportunities that await their children, including the opportunity to make new friends and experience new things.

* Involve kids in the packing and planning. Let the children help with some of the tasks involved in moving. Enable them to pack a box or two of their own belongings, particularly the items that mean the most to them. When looking at new home prospects, take into consideration their likes and dislikes about the new home or neighborhood. Having a stake in the move can increase kids' involvement and make them more likely to embrace the move.

* Think about moving mid-year. When timing a move, some experts believe the transition for school-aged children is easier when the move occurs while school is in session. This enables children to meet new kids and make friends right away, rather than spending several months of summer vacation alone. Parents also benefit because they get right into a routine and can meet neighbors and friends through the acquaintances of their children.

* Create new positive memories. Although there will be many memories linked to the home you're leaving behind, you can immediately start making memories in your new home. Establish a family dining spot in the new neighborhood when looking at homes for sale or waiting for a new home to be built. Visit the library or stores in the area prior to moving in so that these new places will seem familiar once you have moved. Introduce yourselves to new neighbors prior to moving, even letting kids play with their prospective neighbors. This way they'll have something to look forward to when it comes time to relocate.

* Stick to schedules as much as possible. Although moving can throw schedules out of whack, it helps to keep to routines as much as possible, especially when dealing with young children. Try to maintain consistent mealtimes and bedtimes. Let children have ample time to play with friends or just relax alone.

* Set up children's rooms first. To establish normalcy as soon as possible, focus on the children's rooms first before moving on to other areas of the home so that their private spaces can be restful and comfortable. This gives kids a secure place to retire to while other areas of the home are being remodeled or furnished.

Families move for a variety of reasons. Various methods can make the moving process go smoothly for adults and children alike.