Moving with children is never exactly a trip to the beach andmoving long distance can be quite traumatic for everyone involved. However, you can try a few things to help make it easier on everybody.
When To Tell The Kids
A lot of the time, the decision about when to tell the kids will depend on their age and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. With younger children it is generally a better idea to tell them closer to the time, as they don’t cope so well with long drawn out waiting.
However, older children, particularly if they are in their final years of high school, would generally prefer to be told earlier rather than later. Older children need time to adjust, to wind up outstanding class projects, to come to terms with ending relationships and building new ones. While, if they are close to going to university, this might be the time to evaluate their goals and future plans. It may be a case that they stay boarding with a current friend and finish up their school year before going on to university or joining the rest of the family in the new home.
Before you tell your children, make sure that you are clear on the facts. With small children you need to be sure that you are moving, with older teens you can mention that moving is a possibility if the circumstances happen (e.g. you get a promotion that will require the family to move).
Make Moving a Family Affair
Although you may consider the business of moving a household to be purely a job for the adults, your kids will feel happier about the move and more connected to the family decision to move if you can involve them in the process.
For older children this might be asking them to research long distance movers online and make suggestions about which three or four would be the best to get quotes from. You probably complain about them being online all of the time anyway, let them show you how they can put those skills to good use.
In fact, there are a range of areas that you can get your older children to help with using their online research skills. Sit down with them and together write a list of everything that will need to be taken care of both in your current location andin your future location.
This might include things like finding the best utilities provider, looking at housing to rent or buy, looking at schools and finding which ones will be most appropriate and what the public transport is like. There is no reason why your children can’t deliver a great presentation so that the entire family knows what is going to be happening and what things are available in their new home.
If you are a family that likes the outdoors, see if they can find new places to explore, if you are more interested in animals, see if there is a zoo or wildlife sanctuary that you can visit or volunteer in.
Remembering that you will want to help you older children settle in and make new friends easily, if they have already made email or phone contact with people who have similar interests, they may have friends waiting to meet them when they arrive.
With younger children you might want to get some books out of the library or watch a few tourist videos so that they can see where they will be living. If you already have a house picked out, you might like to go for a ‘walk’ around the streets using something like google maps’ street view. https://showmystreet.com/map-streetview/
Although they can’t help you with the research, they can help you with the packing side of things, and they can certainly help you with the major cull of toys and clothing that no longer fits that you will want to do before the big pack and move. If they are 5 – 10 years old this might be a great opportunity for them to earn a little money for their piggy bank, which is often a great motivational tool for helping them to want to de-clutter.
It’s Time To Actually pack
Although your initial assumption is probably that you will pack everything yourself, seriously consider getting professional packers in to do the bulk of it. Ensuring that fragile items are packed properly and are ready for long-distance travel is essential – and you will often find that halfway thought the move everyone is starting to get tired, and the packing isn’t quite as robust as it may have been when you first started.
However, you can get the kids involved still. With little ones, get them to color on their box (restrict them to the bottom of the box if they’re going to get in the way of the labels that the movers will want to write. With older kids you can get them to start sorting out their rooms and work out what they will want to have with you as you travel.
In The Travel Bag
If there will be a delay of any sort between your arrival and the arrival of your household contents you will need to ensure that you have enough clothing and basic supplies to get you through that initial period.
Your 4-year-old might be content to live in PJs every day, but your 14-year-old will be wanting to make the ‘right’ impression amongst new friends and schoolmates. Again, this is an opportunity for them to research what the environment will be like and try to choose clothing that will suit the time of year and weather conditions. Particularly if you are going to be changing climates. When you move.
Don’t forget yourself! Parents often get so busy worrying about how their children will adjust to the move that theyforget to make basic preparations for themselves. A little research into where you should park or how to actually get from the school drop off into your office can save you a lot of frustration on the first day (see here).
If you can plan your move so that you have at the very least a few days to get a little more familiar and settled that’s great, a few weeks are even better. But a lot of the time you will need to hit the ground running, and it can be difficult without that period to settle in. This makes research and planning beforehand even more important.