Moving to a new house can be exciting for parents, but traumatic for kids, especially if they are moving far away from close friends and relatives. Here are some ways to help make the transition easier for preschoolers and young children. (If you have a teenager who’s moving their senior year of high school, good luck.)
Share the moving experience. If the house is nearby, make sure there is plenty of time for your children to explore their new home and neighborhood. Check out local parks, restaurants, and libraries. Visit the swimming pool at the Y or community center and other places your child might like. If you live far away but you’ve got pictures of the new place and neighborhood, show them. You’ll find lots of useful information and photos online. For younger children, remind them frequently about the new move.
Read children’s books about moving. Some good ones for young kids are Moving House, by Anne Civardi (Usborne Books); Moving With Kids, by Lori Collins Burgan (Harvard Common Press), and We’re Moving, by Heather Maisner and Kristina Stephenson (Kingfisher). If your kids are fans of the Berenstain Bears, check out the The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day.
Keep favorite toys, stuffies, and comfort items close by. Pack your child’s beloved items—toys, games, pictures, dolls, whatever—in easily accessible places. Though you may be tempted to get rid of a ratty blanket or stuffed animal, don’t do so now if it’s something your child treasures.
Meet other kids on the block. If at all possible, try to meet other families with young children who live on your street or nearby.
Get schools squared away. Particularly if it’s the middle of the school year, do what you can to make your child’s transition comfortable. Take the little one to see the new school. Find out whether your child is likely to be ahead of, or behind, the current curriculum and whether adjustments should be made.
Arrange for new pediatrician and dentist if you will be moving out of the area. Don’t wait until your child comes down with chicken pox or has a cavity to find a new doctor.
Make sure there’s time to say goodbye. You may wish to plan a going-away party, or just go out to your favorite local restaurant with your family and close relatives and friends.
Get all necessary records—school, medical, and dental. If you’re going to be changing medical providers, make sure you have records to hand over.
Research activities in the new home. Especially if you’re moving during the summer, check out opportunities for the kids to get involved in activities that will help them make friends, such as summer camps and play groups.
Arrange for a mover and get any pets ready, so you’re calm during the move. It won’t help the kids if you’re in a frenzy with last-minute details. Limit stress as much as possible, by having a friend or relative take care of your young children (away from your home) so you can pack as efficiently as possible. See the Nolo articles Hiring a Professional Mover, and Getting Your Dog Ready for a Move for more useful advice on moving into a new home.