Guest post by Alexis Hall, author of SingleParent.info
Moving is an important step in any family’s life. It can be stressful and exciting, filled with hopes and fears. For children, there are risks that come from the instability that moving can present in their lives. However, there are several ways to mitigate stress in your child’s life before, during, and after a move. Here’s how to turn a relocation into a growing experience for all of your family.
Communication Before a Move
Children can be emotionally damaged during a move when the reasons for the change are not made clear. No matter their age, from a toddler to a high-schooler, children should be included in the moving discussion. This is important regardless of the reason for a move. Kids will process the change much better when you have an honest discussion with them about the reasons. If you have to relocate for your work, explain the reasons why the move is going to benefit your family. Most importantly, give your children a role in the new home search, as it will help them take partial ownership of the decision and will make the move a joint, family effort.
Initiate the communication process as soon as possible before a move. Give them as much information as possible, and answer their questions honestly. Try to see the move through their eyes, as even a move that can seem like a positive step for the family can be filled with negative consequences from a child’s perspective.
Finding Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods
Before searching for homes, you should familiarize yourself with the market. The average listing price for a home in Santa Barbara, California, for example, is $1.3 million. Although there is a financial component of a new home search, don’t forget about quality of life and neighborhood considerations When searching for new homes, a key criteria can be looking for neighborhoods with vibrant family life and resources. These are subtle features that are unlikely to appear in an online listing. In order to learn more about the family vibe of a neighborhood, you might have to get out and walk its streets. Look for other children out playing that are in the same age group as yours. A neighborhood full of newborns and toddlers is going to be family friendly, but that won’t necessarily help your 13-year-old transition to their new middle school.
Another tip is to look for family-friendly neighborhood features such as a pocket park, bike paths, a community pool, and proximity to schools. You also may want to look for other features, such as how close shopping and recreation sites are to the home. This is another opportunity for including your children in the moving decision. Ask them what features are important in a town or neighborhood, then try to incorporate their preferences into the houses you consider.
Planning and Organizing Your Move
Once your family has decided on a new home, you can minimize the stress of a move by trying to make the process as least disruptive as possible. Check with your children’s teachers about upcoming tests or major school projects and try to schedule moving day around these times. Some believe it’s ideal to schedule a school-changing move for summer break periods, while others advocate for a mid-school year move to encourage your child to meet others. Again, ask for your child’s feedback about the move if you have scheduling flexibility.
Easing the Transition
Once you move, try to keep as much of your family life the same. Stick to the same routines and schedules to the extent possible. Although you may want to adorn a child’s new bedroom with new furniture, your child might prefer the comfort of their old things. Communicate clearly and often with your child’s new school to keep tabs on their adjustment to the change.
Moving can be stressful for children, but they also can greatly benefit from change. Remember that you are a family unit, and your children are stakeholders. Give them a voice, incorporate it in the decision-making process, and you’ll be more likely to see them adjust to the change.
SingleParent.info provides support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household.
In her role as a top Montecito and Santa Barbara Realtor, Cristal Clarke has helped dozens of families with children make the transition to and from their new homes. In fact, she considers it an honor to be able to offer her significant expertise during what can be a challenging, exciting and always life-changing chapter in the journey of parent(s) and children. Contact Cristal at 805.886.9378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.