Guest blogger, Dimitrios Giouzepis, Certified Parent Educator & Parenting Coach of Positive Parenting Advantage
I can still hear my brother’s remark when my parents told us we were moving. Moving is an exciting time, a busy time, a time full of questions, creativity, movement, so much emotion! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all this as an adult, let alone a child. Children are really susceptible to feeling discouraged because they can feel like the whole world is changing from underneath them. Here are ways to really encourage your children through the moving process:
- Have the talk that tells your kids that you are going to move as early as possible. Involve them from the get go. Help them take ownership. With ownership your child will feel significance for the role they must play. With all the preparation it’s a good time for a family meeting. This conversation should be done with the entire family. Let your kids know what to expect. Brainstorm jobs, according to ages. Younger kids can get involved in organizing and sorting. Older children can really roll up their sleeves and help packing, cleaning, and moving. Give them choices of what they want to own. Let them go at their own pace, and be available to listen and encourage questions.
- Nobody likes transitions; they can be scary, uncomfortable, and confusing. Let your kids keep their favorite things close by during the moving process. Give the kids an opportunity to make a wish list for their new home. Help them design their rooms by getting a color wheel from the hardware store so that they can pick their room color. Young children can help paint and kids can even be involved in picking curtains, rugs, sheets, and placing furniture. Take a tour of the new home. Let your kids get a feel for the new place. If there’s a yard, let them play in it. If not, find the local play ground, ice cream shop, or park to go to after your visit.
- Make a picture memory book of your old home, your neighborhood, and friends. Kids can take photos, make pictures, a collage, or poster. Write little captions near the pictures. Help your kids write goodbye letters to friends. Get contact information for everyone you and your kids want to stay in touch with. It’s really important to acknowledge your children’s feelings, rather than talk them out of it. Remain positive, Relate to them using a story from your childhood, or a transition time in your life. Let them hear how everything turned out great. Kids love to hear stories about when their parents were kids too. Brainstorm with your kids about possible solutions to feeling lonely, scared, or confused. Make a list and pick a few ideas to try out in a role. At meal time, ask your children what was their favorite thing about their old house. What kind of traditions can you re-establish in your new home from your lives in your old home?
- Have your kids imagine that it is now a year into the future. Write a letter with them to themselves (older kids can do on their own) describing all of the wonderful things that happened since their move. Write a letter to themselves that describes how great things turned out because of the move. This will help your kids adjust focus and shift to possibilities-thinking. This time can be full off “ I can’t”. This type of thinking puts up imaginary barriers and prevents problem-solving, decision-making, and creative thought. If you haven’t already, adopt the idea that “ There is no I CAN’T, there is only I CAN, it’s just a matter of how”!
- Really important that YOU the parent, gets YOU time. There’s just no chance of having any success handling the move, your kids, or anything else if you’re running on empty. Get rest. I can’t stress this enough. Patience will be in short supply otherwise. Also, remember that you too may be going through your own grief, or turmoil. Acknowledge that too. You can choose to journal about it, take some alone time, meditate, or pray. The important thing is to acknowledge it, accept it, and find alternative ways to move through it. You’re always modeling behaviors. Let your kids see how you positively problem solve.
Photo credit: mdanys via Visualhunt.com / CC BY
- Keep calm when your kids misbehave. Wonder what undeveloped, immature, or unknown adult life skill could help here. Transitions are probably one of the most common experiences to bring on a good dose of misbehavior. What if your child is trying to tell you “I’m a kid who wants to belong. I feel insignificant, and confused about how to work through this, I need your help”. Use your calm voice when speaking with your kids no matter what the situation may be. Take a breath or a break when you need it. In fact, that’s a good bit of advice for everyone!
- Map out the new school, after school activities, community programs, in the new neighborhood. Remember, you want to create a compelling future that’s full of positive opportunities to enjoy. Set up a play date, or party for the kids from the old neighborhood to come over. Do this before you move (if you’re moving relatively near). It’s a lot easier to say see you later, than goodbye.
- Keep routines as close to normal as possible. That means that you don’t stray because you are moving. This will only add to your child’s stress by adding more uncertainty to more than enough variety. The routine is a reliable course your kids are used to. Keep it.
- Maintain your one to one time with your kids. By keeping to your 10 minutes of undivided, uninterrupted, focused, one to one time, doing what they love doing, at least once per day, (get back to twice per day right away) you will save a lot of time when you need it most later. That will help retain stability. Get their rooms set up first. These strategies will give your children that sense of belonging they need so much at times like these.
Photo credit: MarkMoz12 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY
- Say goodbye to your old home. When the house is all packed up, walk through together and say goodbye. It’s okay to hug a corner, or a wall.
- Another nice transition activity to do as your move is approaching (about a couple of weeks before the move if possible) is for each member of the family to buy (or by for them) a plant they will take with them from the old home, to plant in the new home. You could use plants, or a small tree, whatever works for the family. When you get to the new home, plant the tree first. Do this all together with everyone involved. Then, move your things in. This can also be done the day before if that works. I still appreciate the Japanese Maple I got to plant in the yard.
- When you are in your new home, talk about what their favorite part of their moving day was, and their favorite part of their new house. Give everyone the chance to chime in. Celebrating your new home with a family tradition will add to the moment quite nicely. If your family is not accustomed to family traditions, maybe this is a good time to make one up. We broke a pomegranate on the front steps the day we moved in, and took our first step into the house with the right foot. What can I say, Greeks!
I hope that this helped. Congratulations for your new home. These suggestions can help you and your kids get off to a positive start. If you liked reading this article, please go to positiveparentingadvantage.com for more information, or to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.