Moving is a big adjustment for everyone, and especially for kids. Getting used to a new town can take some doing. Here are some tips for helping the youngest members of your family adjust.
First, talk about your new town before you move. Think about the ways it will be different –especially if you’re moving across the country—and explain how that means new opportunities and adventures. But then emphasize the ways it will be the same: There will be parks, playgrounds, sports leagues to join, Scouts, etc. If moving involves leaving behind the place where they’ve gone for Friday night pizza or Saturday breakfast their entire lives, talk about what fun it will be to find a new spot.
Plan ways to get kids integrated into the community as soon as you move, rather than waiting a month or two for school to start. If possible, sign them up for day camps, team sports or other activities before you move, but if not, find something for them to do in your new hometown as soon as you can. This will give them some structure, but also allow them to start making friends before school starts.
Encourage socialization, whether that’s through church groups, neighborhood events, or just by taking kids to playgrounds and swimming pools where they can meet local kids. If you can set up playdates for kids, even better. And encourage them to try a new activity or sport; that can provide a confidence boost that will them settle in.
For kids, adjusting to school is a big part of adjusting to a new city. Start before the move. Show them the school’s website, and let them identify any curriculum or extra-curricular activities that interest them. Once you’re in town, take younger kids to play on the playground, and walk them around the neighborhood. For junior high and high school kids, show them the school, but get them familiar with the curriculum, daily schedule, and more.
Be sure to attend any orientation for new students, and request a tour for your kids before the first day. They’ll adjust more easily if they don’t have to worry about finding classrooms, the gym, bathrooms and cafeteria. And find out if the school has a buddy system for new kids, and learn who your child’s buddy is.
Structure and routine will help your kids settle in, so as soon as possible a
fter the upheaval of moving, re-establish routine bed-times, meal-times and chores. And re-establish family events, like game night, weekly outings, and more. At the same time, help your kids, especially older ones, explore the city and find activities they’re interested in.
Finally, talk about it. Let them express how they feel about the move, whether that’s sadness at leaving friends behind, fear about starting in a new school, or anger at being uprooted. If you can acknowledge how they feel, you’ll be better able to help them cope with new or negative emotions. Share memories of a move you made as a child, and how you felt about it, and tell them if there’s something you really miss from your old city.