In the way the world functions today moving for career or personal reasons is inevitable. Studies show that on an average families move at least 3-4 times in a life time. Moving even for the veteran mover is a challenge and if there are kids or pets involved then the tensions and problems are greater.
Children are often disturbed by changes in their home environment and schedule and are reluctant to leave their friends and familiar environment to move to a new place. It is important for you to set aside time to help your kids cope with change and understand that moving is “no monster.”
• Most parents plan to move during holidays when the school term has ended. In actuality this makes it harder for the kids. Think about it, it is easier to adjust and cope when you are busy and have made a few friends. So, if you move during school term the kids will start at a new school and have plenty of interaction with teachers and classmates. They will also start following a schedule and have no time to brood or think about the changes in their lives.
• I know moving can be a burden with umpteen things to do but make time to sit down with the kids and explain why the need to move, and what they can look forward to. Instill in them a sense of security and if possible, assign a few responsibilities like maintaining a list for moving, caring for pets, having a going away treat for their friends and so on.
• Involve the kids in house hunting and finding out stuff about the new city or town where you are moving. If you are moving to a rural area then try and make it seem like an adventure. Add a sense of anticipation and excitement.
• Plan activities with them a “say goodbye” to old home, school, neighborhood, and friend activity and a “hello” to the new home and environment. Help them cope with emotions, uncertainties, and more by asking a favorite aunt or grandparent over to spend time with them, showing them pictures of the new home, allowing them to keep in touch with old friends by quickly hooking up the Internet connection when you arrive into your new home.
• Let each child decide what to take with them in their hand luggage something special. Maybe a soft toy, an old blanket, a much loved book, or collection of stamps or coins, or base ball cards.
• Plan a “family group” night in the new home. Spread out sleeping bags in the large living room and if its winter light a fire, watch movies together, roast marshmallows, sing songs, and exchange hugs. Being with each other and their parents will help settle fluttering stomachs and doubts.
• Reassure your kids that you will always be there for them, until they settle in; consider taking leave from work, flexi timings, or asking a grandparent to stay with them for a while. Consider aspects of child care and a day care center. If you have small children find out whether your new work place encourages mothers to bring children with them into work.
• Make the new environment a discovery. Explore the neighborhood together, take them on a tour of the school, local library and ‘y.’ Go swimming with them, and retrace the route they will take each day. Introduce yourself and the kids to neighbors, ask neighboring kids over to your new home so that the kids can make new friends.
Be a vigilant parent and look out for signs of being upset, bad behavior, nervousness, loss of appetites, bad dreams, frequent bathroom visits at night, demands for attention, or to sleep in with you. If you notice any of these you must take all essential steps to correct matters before they get nasty.
Children live in a world quite different from ours so help them with love, understanding, and patience.