This article appears in May-June Family magazine.
When it comes to moving from one home to another, think first about your most valuable possessions — your kids.
Summer means moving time for many families, said Joanne Danehl, director of global skills for Crown Relocations.
“Kids are out of school so it’s less disruptive,” she said. “Summer gives them time to get involved in summer activities and get to know other kids before school starts. Keeping them busy by involving the entire family in activities will be less overwhelming if they can ease into their new surroundings together. Having the child enrolled in a summer camp could also help them find new friends quicker.”
Moving can be stressful, but parents can ease kids’ anxiety by allowing them to be part of the process.
“Get them involved in some aspect of the planning, whether it’s decorating their new bedroom or finding places to explore and visit in the new city,” Danehl said. “Making the time to talk to your children about the things that they will lose (their comfort zones, their friends and their teachers) will help them experience the sadness while you are talking with them.”
Feeling sad about a move is natural.
“Sadness means that they had a positive experience with their lives. If they are happy about the move, it is a good
chance to make a new life and make it happy,” Danehl said.
With proper guidance kids should be allowed to manage sone of the move themselves.
“Let them pack items from their own room and label them so that once you are in your new home, they feel like they have control of unpacking their items,” Danehl said.
Keeping them included in the conversation gives them a sense of control and helps reduce the fear of the unknown.
“Children also have the option of giving their friends the information so that they can keep in touch and have a solid understanding of where they are going and how far away they will be from friends,” Danehl said.
For a fresh approach look to technology-based solutions. Use Skype or FaceTime to share the home search with children if they are not along. When it comes to decorating a new bedroom, help kids go online and check out Houzz or Pinterest.
To avoid culture shock — whether moving to a new country, state or ZIP code — parents can offer a concrete action plan. Create a list of adventures and activities to do as a family, Danehl said.
Changing schools adds variables. Check with the new school district to determine whether transcripts, birth certificates and immunization records are needed and if the school would like to receive them on paper or digitally, Danehl said. If you only receive physical documents, scan them for safekeeping. Items typically required:
- Report cards for previous school year
- Birth certificate
- Proof of identification for parent/guardian
- Vaccine records
- Proof of residency (also important if moving abroad)
- State or school assessments/academic testing information/results
- Divorce decree and/or custody documents (if needed)