Realistically, most families move for work or because of finances or other caregiving needs – many of the reasons for a move aren’t initiated by the whole family. Recognizing that everyone may not be on board is the first step to making a move the best it can be, even in the flurry of selling a house and buying another. Use these tips to make the process more meaningful and attuned to your families needs.
Ease them into the idea
Try to give your kids and spouse a heads up as soon as a move is on the horizon. You may want to delay dramatic reactions but often more time is actually helpful if family members are likely to be disappointed about a move. They can prioritize time with friends now, for instance, and process their feelings.
Make lists and plans together to help their expectations
When you plan together, children and spouses alike can take more ownership of the many tasks necessary for a move. When a child has a job to do, they often feel less directionless. The move becomes a project in which they have a role rather than something being done to them.
Make moving day less stressful with a few special treats
Moving day or days are a great time to plan ahead for special snacks, TV shows, small gifts, or even to just break out some favorite car games. Kids may feel unsettled and some favorite items can help you focus on logistics while they stay calm.
Pay attention and listen to concerns
One of the best ways to help every family member get on board, ironically, is to just listen to what bothers them about the move. You don’t always have to fix it, just sympathize with their worries and treat them as real and valid. They may just need to work out their disappointment before they can start finding positive things about the new place.
Figure out something about the new home that’s good for each family member
When possible, find something each person can look forward to about the new home; your real estate agent may be able to help with this research. A bigger room, a backyard, or a nearby gymnastics studio could all be the ways your children figure out that this is a good move.
Offer lots of praise for handling change well
When teens and kids roll with an unpleasant change (delayed moving truck, for instance) without trouble, note it and thank them for being a team player. Challenging times like moves give a chance for all family members to exercise problem solving skills and show their resilience, for which they can be praised.
Explore your new neighborhood for family time
While the first few days in a new home are often all hurry and work, take quality one on one time with each family member when you can to go for a walk, play on a playground, or get breakfast at a local restaurant. This quality time cements that the new place will be a secure place for your kids and spouse to continue growing their most important relationships, and you may discover a new favorite swing set or French toast along the way, making the new home that much more appealing too.