When we moved cross-country, our kids were just three and 18 months and we worried about the transition–especially for Ryan. When I’m trying to explain a concept to my kids, my default is to find a children’s book on the subject, so we took a ceremonial field trip to Barnes and Noble and chose a book about moving.
The Berenstain Bears sweetly illustrated the concept of moving to my then three-year old son, and anytime he got worried about the toys and other belongings we were packing, we’d refer to the story. I believe putting the move in terms he understood helped him feel confident and comfortable and although our move was 2,000 miles away, our transition was pretty smooth.
This move is much different. We’re not going far–just to the next town over. We’ll still be attending the same church, will keep many of the same friends, will still shop at the same grocery store. The main difference is that we’ll have more space, will live close to campus, and will be in the same time zone Jared works in–allowing more time together as a family.
The kids were especially excited about the “clubhouse” cubbies (crawl spaces) in the new house, the fish pond, spacious backyard, and living just down the sidewalk from the library. And so although we had an initial family discussion about the move, I didn’t worry much about the transition.
#mommyfail, I realized while packing, and finding our lifesaving Berenstain Bears book shredded under Ryan’s bed.
“Because I DON’T want to move again!” He angrily answered when I questioned the destruction. His four-year old sister grumpily agreed. “We like this house! I don’t want to move either!”
That’s when I realized, no matter the circumstances, moving is a BIG deal. And so here are a few things I tried in attempt to change their minds about moving:
Keep Up the Communication
Even though the move will be an improvement for our family, the kids couldn’t see past their initial uncertainty and insecurity, and I think that’s where most of their uncooperative behaviors came from. So we tried to give them as much information as possible, answered their questions, and were patient with their not-always positive attitudes. I was honest with them and admitted that I was also sad to leave our house and neighborhood, and that I was also a little scared about making friends in our new town.
Make a Day of it
Since we weren’t moving far, I paused our packing and and took a day with the kids to visit the new house, explore the neighborhood, check out the library’s storytime, find the school, and go out for lunch in our “new” town. We had a great day, and it helped them feel more comfortable (and even excited) about the upcoming change.
Utilize the Internet
Ryan is really interested in maps, so we looked up the new house and neighborhood on Google Earth. He was fascinated (and I thought it was really interesting too!). If you’re moving far away and don’t have the opportunity to take the kids to the new town ahead of time, I’d really recommend utilizing the internet to help them learn as much as they can about their new home, neighborhood, school, city, state, country (!).
Read Children’s Books About Moving
It worked before, so why not again? Children’s literature can explain a lesson in a fun, non-threatening way so much better than I can. Since our Berenstain Bear book was longer an option, I turned to beloved Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move. My own Mr. Grumpy Pants seems to relate pretty well to Mr. Alexander Grumpy Pants.
What are your experiences with moving? What has worked (or not worked) to prepare your kids for the big day?