You’ve made your decision. You’re moving to Albuquerque. You even found a great house. Time to start packing. As well as tell the kids. It doesn’t matter how far you are moving. Moving at all can be an unpleasant event in a child’s life and can be overwhelming for any child. Not only is there the chaos of packing, kids are forced to say goodbye to friends, teachers, and the familiar comfort of their community.
For the children of military families, there are particularly acute challenges during relocation—or Permanent Change of Station. Military families relocate more frequently than civilian families (every two to three years, on average) and they tend to move greater distances. When military families move from bases to civilian neighborhoods, children often feel isolated from their peers, who can’t identify with the military lifestyle.
By preparing for the move in advance, keeping lines of communication open, and maintaining a positive attitude, parents can help their kids cope with the challenges of relocation. Here are some tips for ensuring that your child transitions smoothly from one home to another.
First Try a Family Meeting.
Before you prepare to relocate, talk to your child about what the move will be like, and what challenges might occur during the process of relocation.
Get some take out and have an enjoyable family diner, that way you can casually bring up the subject. This gives you a chance to slip into the conversation without too much upset and to let them know why the move is necessary. It’s also a good opportunity to let them ask their questions, so you can answer them and ease any concerns they will have.
Get Them Involved in the Process.
This is also a good opportunity to go through the house and clean out all the unnecessary stuff that that your family have picked up over the years. Get the kids to help you decide what can be trashed, donated or sold. Moving sale time!
Younger kids also benefit from transitional exercises before moving to a new home. Let your child help out with packing, or encourage her to choose the color of her new room. Involving children in the move in this way has the added benefit of making them feel in control at a time when events in their lives can seem out of control.
Encourage them to Learn More About Where Your Family is Moving.
Help them learn as much about their soon to be new community. Encourage them to do some of their own research. Help them check out the local schools and school district. A website of the local schools with pictures would be a great help and let them get an idea of where they’ll be attending school. You could also try to find a local online paper to help the whole family get a feel for the local people and issues.
Establish a routine
When unpacking all those boxes in a new home, keeping regular mealtimes and bedtimes might not be your biggest priority. But it’s important to try and establish a routine for your kids as soon as you get to the new location.