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How to Prepare a Young Child for Moving
Are you planning on moving soon and have little ones moving with you?
We all know moving is stressful for us adults. But have you thought about your childrens needs and the stress they may be going through?!
If you have, do you know how to break the move to them?
Should you tell them as soon as you’re starting to think about moving, or wait til the very last minute when you’re packing everything up to go, or some where in between?
If you haven’t yet thought about this, now may be a good time to start. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want something this big to be a surprise for my kids. Just like I wouldn’t like to be sprung with this type of surprise, myself!
So, with my experience of moving with 2 kids under 5 years of age, a little over a year ago, and moving from one coast of the U.S. to the other; here’s what I recommend….
Talk about the Move
Children need time to process things, just like we do.
Once you have fully committed to the move, it may be a good idea to start planting the idea in your childrens heads. This way, when you formally tell them, or when they fully realize that they are going to have to say goodbye to their home and friends and family, it won’t come to them as a surprise.
They may also be excited to move when it comes time to, just keep them positive about the move during the entire process!
I know my older daughter was excited for our adventure when it finally came up. She was sad to leave friends and family, and she made sure to tell me this. But, she’s even more excited now that she gets to spend all day with mommy. She was four, by the way.
Luckily for us, this big move of ours was something my husband has been wanting to do for over a year. And we have been discussing it in front of our children before we even knew a date. I believe this helped our four year old mentally prepare for the move before the process of moving even started.
She knew that even if she were to leave her friends, she would be able to make new friends where we were going.
The time she had before the move gave her the opportunity to find out more about the move. She would ask when we were leaving and what fun things would be at the new location. (We know now that there’s a playground here called the Dream Playground; it’s pretty awesome!) She wanted to know if she was still going to have certain toys in her room when we moved and if not then she would miss them. And of course, all of her toys came with us! She even picked out a new ninja turtle pillow to go on her bed at our new home!
Let Them Help
Another step I took that helped with preparing my four year old for the move was letting her help pack. Well, help pack some of her belongings…..
She helped pack her stuffed animals and all of her other toys. We packed them together. We packed some of her toys up a couple of times, before I decided to finally tape up the boxes or tie up the bags with the stuffed animals. She also chose a few things to keep out for the trip, for herself and for her little sister!
Letting children be a part of the moving process helps them feel important, or at least lets them know that they helped, and they already know that helping is a good thing.
If you have a long trip ahead of you to your new place, I would also recommend to allow your children to pick out at least one snack or meal that they like, that is car friendly. Even if you pick out the rest, allowing them some input on what they eat in the car, or at the rest stop, can help them feel even more involved. This helps get them excited about the long drive because then they get to have their special snack. When it comes to moving, it’s always best to keep them involved as much as possible.
Children are very curious, and intelligent, even (especially) at the age of four. They want to know things, everything (my daughter is at the “why” stage). They also like knowing what things will be like, even before they happen. To somewhat prepare themselves for what is to come. For example, when she was three and her sister was born, she was prepared for the event. We let her know everything that would change or stay the same when her sister came into this world. This way she was ready for the change and to welcome her sister into the world with us.
The Younger the Easier
During our big move across the country, our younger daughter was 14 months old. And, what I found out about this age is that they don’t really care all that much about moving. As long they have their immediate family and some toys and food, they are all set!
She was even content on the four day drive across the country. Sure, she fussed a little, but for the most part she was pretty happy. I know this can’t be said for all one year olds, but it’s easier to move when they’re this age than when they get older. They’re still usually happy go lucky at this age!
When they are this young, they don’t tend to have many friends yet, and if they do, they won’t remember them, as sad as that is. If you have family where you are moving from, then it may be a good idea to visit them so your children will remember them. I’m planning on doing this. And my four year old won’t let me forget it. She keeps talking about visiting where we moved from so she can see her grandparents and aunt and uncles. She talks about missing them and what we’re going to do when we go to visit. She’s being very mature about it all.
(We’ve also been skyping them at least every other weekend since we moved! This way my mom and sister can still see my girls grow up, and my girls will still know their extended family!)
Overall, I believe it is best to keep children involved when moving. Letting them help as much as they can and answering any questions they may have. Now, a few quick tips that you can implement!!
- Let your children know that all their toys and room decor, and bed, and everything else they own will be coming with them!
- Let them know they can call friends/family after the move!
- Move before they make start school, if possible.
- If you are going to visit the area you are moving from, let them know, and let them know when! Just not too early in advance, or they may not stop asking you about it til it happens…..
- Keep them involved as much as possible!!
If you’ve ever moved with children, you may know that it could be a struggle and hope that others do not have to struggle. Honestly, with my move and my children, it wasn’t much of a struggle. They actually did not mind all that much. My younger daughter did not care, she was still very little. And, my older daughter acted so grown up about it all. This was due to being honest with her from the beginning and not trying to hide the move from her on any level.
If you have a different opinion, or more quick tips, please share in a comment.