“HOME! Take me home!” cries Billy, struggling to speak coherently amidst a waterfall of tears. “I wanna go hooooome”, he wails, hoping his parents finally give in and take him back to the only place he knew and wanted as home. The place he had lived in, until the day before.
“We are home, buddy,” Billy’s dad says, hoping to cheer the poor boy up. “See, here are your toys, here’s Mr. Dino, and here is…”
“No. No. Nooo! This is not home. I want to go hoooome!”
On any other day, Billy’s parents would have wanted to discipline him for the non-stop wailing or the tantrums. But not today. The eight-year-old’s meltdown was legitimate. He had moved across continents, leaving behind eight years’ worth of friends, memories, comfort, and familiarity. Of course he wanted to go “home”.
The question is, was there anything Billy’s parents could have done to ease the pain? The answer, fortunately, is yes.
What you need to know about moving with kids
Relocation – whether it involves national moving or international moving – is always difficult. Moving with kids, even more. Several factors come into play when there are kids in the picture.
Firstly, kids hate change. We all do. But there’s something about moving that is particularly abhorrent for children. Secondly, the majority of children actually thrive on routine and familiarity. Moving within the city, state, or country itself can be a nerve-racking for them. There’s just no telling what international moving can do when they are unprepared. Furthermore, most kids are usually not a part of the moving decision. This makes the older children, who’ve entered their teen or pre-teen years, particularly averse to the idea.
However, it is possible to get everyone on board about an upcoming national or international relocation. It is possible to plan and execute a stress- and hassle-free move, even when moving with kids. Good communication is the key.
Discussing the move with kids
The easiest, most effective way of preparing kids for an upcoming national or international relocation is talking about it. You want to start discussing the move as early as possible – preferably the same day you and your spouse finalize the decision. This will ease their anxiety later. It also helps to explain the reasons of the move, even if you think the kids aren’t old enough to understand.
When moving with toddlers and school-goers
Keep all explanations simple and clear. Toddlers and preschoolers will respond well to stories. You can use their toy trucks, houses, and furniture to build a story. Or, you can use the stories already created by famous authors. Big Ernie’s New Home by Teresa and Whitney Martin, The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and Louis + Bobo: We Are Moving by Christiane Engle are great books to prepare for moving with children, ideal for both national moving and international moving. These books are best suited for children between the ages of three and five.
Stories are also a good idea for school-going kids. If your children are six years of age or older, you may consider Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli, and Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe by Susan Patron. Expect the children to ask you a lot of questions and be prepared to answer all questions truthfully and honestly.
When moving with pre-teens and teens
The thing about teens and pre-teens is that they typically invest a lot of time and energy in their social circles. As a result, they are often the most resentful about moving decisions.
When discussing the move with pre-teens and teens, expect resentment. An active rebellion may not be that improbable either, especially if international moving is in the picture. It’s important they know you are willing to do whatever it takes to make the transition easier. Don’t be dismissive or provide blanket assurances. You want to address concerns and answer questions honestly.
Another great way to help teens and pre-teens come to terms with relocation is encouraging them to use journals. The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Teens, and The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Pre-teens will be two great resources for them. And should you feel particularly overwhelmed, Moving With Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family’s Transition to a New Home by Lori Collins Burgan could be a great resource for you.
Six additional tips for happy, hassle-free moving with kids
Communicating honestly indeed is, a great way to start preparing children for an upcoming national or international relocation. But it’s not enough. Moving is an incredibly difficult time for the kids, when apprehensions and uncertainties are high. They need your time, your support, and a near-constant flow of reassurances that things are going to turn out well.
Here are six tips to help you provide the same:
- Involve the kids in choosing the new house
Moving with kids becomes easier when they are involved in the decisions too. This ensures that the move feels less forced on them. For instance, you could ask them to pick their own carpet or wall colors.
If you’re moving within your state or city, organizing a visit to the new house or neighborhood is be a good idea. Consider giving them a ‘virtual tour’ of the place, when long-distance relocation is involved.
- Appoint them your ‘in-house’ packers and movers
It is common for children to worry whether or not all things they love will be packed and moved to the new house. A good idea is to give kids small packing jobs to do. Young school-goers can pack their toys, while older children can pack their clothes as well. Alternatively, you can make a checklist of all things that mean the most to your kids, and pack those things together. In addition, be sure to give them other simple jobs to keep them involved and occupied.
- Hire professional packers and movers
International packers and movers will allow you the time, space, and peace of mind needed to focus on the kids. They will also be able to offer an array of allied services such as school search, city orientation, and destination services to ease the transition.
- Enlist the help of family and friends on moving day
Even if you have top-notch packers and movers helping you with national or international moving, you’ll be far from free on the final moving day. Ensure you have hired a babysitter or enlisted the help of family and friends to be with the kids as you go about the duties of the day.
- Be sure to honor your old home
Give kids the closure they need, and your old home the respect it deserves, by throwing a party or planning some family activities. You don’t have to go over the top with it either. A simple chip-and-dip party for all your kids’ friends, favorite babysitters, and other people in their lives, will serve the purpose well. Alternatively, you could restrict the event to a family affair. Have the kids take turns to speak on what they loved most about the home, what they are going to miss and so on. The kids could also write “thank you” notes or “see you soon” notes for friends, family, and neighbors
- And be sure to celebrate your new house
Simple activities such as a night of picnic or camping in the new house. You can pitch a tent in the living room to set up a ‘camp’. Bring sleeping rugs, flashlights, and snacks for a true camping experience. This will also save you the trouble of unpacking everything the same day of arrival.
Get in touch with your international packers and movers to provide help with the unpacking and initial settling, to ensure you have enough time and energy to make it a positive experience for the kids.
Need more help? Here are 23 simple things you can do to make the move simpler for both you and the children.
Moving with kids is easy when moving with Globe
An ISO and FIDI FAIM accredited relocation company, Globe Moving is your proverbial one-stop shop for all things relocation.
Our comprehensive national and international moving solutions – which include end-to-end services such as setting up the new house, unpacking, providing home cleaning or maid services, assisting with school search and more – are designed to help you enjoy easy, stress-free relocation when moving with kids.
Anticipating a move anytime soon? Get in touch today!