Whether you’re moving across town or the country, moving is stressful for the whole family from parents to pets. Children especially feel the strain, and it’s up to parents to help them cope during the move and adjust afterward. Use the following 5 ways to show you care about your child’s mental health while moving.
1. Practice Self-Care First
As parents, we tend to put our kids first during stressful times. Just as you must put your oxygen mask on first, you must have come to terms with the move and be comfortable with it yourself. Hopefully, it’s a happy move involving a new job or other positive life events. If not, make a list of pros and cons and focus on the advantages of moving, even if it’s only a chance to begin again in a new town.
Even very young children pick up on our moods through voice tone and body language. If you’re still unhappy about the move, consider therapy or counseling.
2. Focus on the Positives
Children may see moving as an ending. Help them shift their thinking toward the positive instead. Perhaps you’re moving to a different climate where it’s warmer in winter or to a place where they’ll see snow for the first time. Is there a theme park or weekend getaway nearby? Something as simple as a playground close by will help. Have the family make a list of the positives and focus on what brings them joy during the moving process.
3. Involve Children in Planning
Children will adjust more easily when they can engage in planning the move. Show them the location of their new home on Google Maps and find nearby places they would like to go. Show them photos of the area online, and if possible, plan a preview visit to your new neighborhood.
Give children boxes and let children decide how to pack their belongings. At the new home, involve them in setting up their rooms. Let them decide on a new color to paint the walls.
4. Help Kids Stay Connected to the Past
On the day before moving day, take a tour around the neighborhood and take photos of all their favorite places. The photos could even be made into a scrapbook along with other mementos like ticket stubs to favorite events or pressed leaves from a favorite tree. Honor your old house with a going away party. Take advantage of technology. Set up a virtual playdate with friends and help them stay in touch through social media.
5. Help Kids Get Established in Their New Community
Children are more resilient than we think, and they’ll likely adjust to their new home eventually. Give the process a boost by exploring the town together. Find the best playgrounds and parks, the best fast food places, and the best places to shop. Try to make connections with other parents in your new neighborhood and set up playdates. If your child is school-age, arrange a tour of the school to meet the teachers after the end of the school day.