Moving can be a draining ordeal, and it gets even worse when you have children. Let’s face it, few of us would claim to relish the experience of moving halfway across the country with kids in tow.
In most cases, however, it’s not like we have much of a choice; it just has to be done.
Perhaps either spouse has secured a good job that you can’t afford to turn down. Or it could be necessitated by not-so-happy reasons such as layoffs or a job transfer. Or the need to be closer to an ailing parent so that they can spend their autumn years with the family.
Whatever your reasons for pulling up stakes, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the kids and what’s best for them as we preoccupy ourselves with details about the move.
What is often overlooked is the strong attachment your kids have to your current home, particularly if they were born and raised there and do not know it any other way. To them, that is HOME.
In their mind, a move is often viewed as a disruption to life as they know it, and putting yourself in their shoes, it’s not hard to see why leaving all that behind can be distressing. Some children take it easier than others (as we adults also do) but by and large, tough goodbyes are not an easy time for the family.
This is why managing your kids properly when an interstate move is on the cards cannot be overemphasized enough.
In this article, we look at some of the things you can do to make your interstate move with children more bearable. It won’t be easy, but it should soften the blow inflicted by this life-changing transition.
Manage their emotions
They may be children, but they are people too with their own routines and friendship bonds, sometimes deeper than our own. If you view them as kids, it’s easy to presume they will simply get used to it. In truth, though, they will likely experience a cascade of emotions, swinging from excitement and happiness, to fear and sadness.
This in mind, it is essential that you allow them to be open with you about their true feelings. Appreciate any fears or feelings they may harbor and don’t dismiss their never-ending questions about the new place.
On the upside, children tend to be very adaptable. So, depending on how you handle them, this can influence their perception about the move – not to mention it’s an experience that could stay with them forever.
Do this well in advance of the move.
Make them part of the process
If you are hiring an interstate moving company to do the packing for you, well and good. But if you are doing most of the packing on your own, consider making the children part of the process by fully involving them in the packing.
Don’t wait until the last week to integrate them into the process. Instead, bring them in when you’re in the initial stages of your packing. You could, for example, ask them to pick some old toys they would want to donate to charity or bequeath a friend.
You can also have the kids design some moving cards which include your new address for dishing out to family and friends. The address could be pre-printed on the inside.
Involve them in other activities you can think of. Make the experience fun for them. When they feel part of the process (and enjoy it for that matter) it will be for the benefit of everyone.
Model the behavior you wish to see
Moving is not easy, even for adults. However, avoid constantly whining about it as this negativity will only be reflected back at you.
Instead, adopt a can-do attitude and vocalize the positives about the move whenever you’re around them. See how well that influences them.
Plan the road trip
Start planning your road trip weeks before moving day. Try as much as you can to organize the trip in a way that reflects your children’s routines.
This could, for example, involve starting the days early, making stops for lunch and dinner, and sleeping in a bed (albeit a hotel’s) overnight.
As well, restroom stops should not be too spaced out. Work plenty of them into the road trip so you never have to ask the kids if they want to go. You should only ask them as you are leaving the house.
Frequent restroom stops may seem like a waste of time, but they help remove the boredom out of the trip as children are bound to get restless with the immobility.
If possible, you can even spice it up a bit by planning a rare fun stop at a point of interest – think an activity center, national park, tourist trap and so on. You can bet your dollar that the experience will be one they remember for a long time (in all sorts of good ways)!
Bid adieu to your old abode
It is imperative that you set aside some time to properly say goodbye to your old house. We build strong bonds with our houses over time, and this is no different for children, young age and all.
Therefore, resist the urge to get on the road without affording them time to say goodbye to their old rooms, favorite spots around the home, and also stare out the windows one final time.
Don’t forget children have good days and bad days too
Kids may exhibit some developmental changes during this time, so do not despair when they suddenly aren’t playing or sleeping or eating like “they used to”. Children are always metamorphosing in nature and this is part of their growth process.
When you move across states, this can be a trigger for this kind of change. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them.
Just make sure you are in touch with their true feelings so you are on the same page.
Stick to the schedule
Maintaining the routines you had at your previous home is another way you can ease the adjustment brought about by an interstate move.
Don’t lose important rituals that brought you together as soon as you make the big move. Bonding activities like family meals and game nights help foster a reassuring sense of continuity.
Normally, that’s very important for children in life, but it will take even more importance when you are moving across the country and trying to adapt to a completely new lifestyle.
Bedtime rituals in particular should be as they were – the hours, the bedding etc.