How To Talk To Kids About Moving
We've lived in our house for over four years, and while I'm grateful for the walls that bring us warmth and comfort each day, I have also, admittedly, been itching to move. It's currently more of a recreational fancy (oh, Trulia, how I've been enjoying your app!) but moving has been enough of a point of conversation that I've needed to talk Laurel down about it more than a few times. So when Unpakt (a free web app that provides quotes, reviews, and ratings for pre-screened moving companies) approached me about sharing my thoughts about moving, I immediately thought about how to talk to kids about moving (not to mention whether the universe is telling me that my own move is forthcoming!). Here are some talking points that have proven very helpful during Laurel and my discussions:
1. Allay fears about friends. Laurel is 8-years-old; friends are very important at this age, so naturally, one of her major concerns was that we'd be moving away from friends. We love our neighborhood and school so would want to move within the neighborhood and I assured her of that. If you're relocating to a different town, allay fears about friends by committing to keeping existing friendships alive via play dates and working to help forge new relationships post-move.
2. Share your own experiences. Your kids look to you for guidance and as role models. If relevant, share your own childhood experiences. And there's no need to completely sugar coat things; it's totally fine (good, actually) to share if you were nervous/scared/excited about moving and how you came through things in the end.
3. Talk timetable. Depending on how old your kids are, a timetable can really help. If your move is imminent, tie it to a season or a date related to the school year. For us, we don't have a firm timetable but I've told Laurel that we're looking casually and that unless something really spectacular comes up, we're not planning on moving before the end of the school year.
4. Share why you're moving in a way that relates to your kids. Kids like consistency and moving is a big deal. It can be especially confusing if the move is simply shrouded in the explanation: "We're moving." At a level that's age appropriate for your kids, share some reasons why you're considering moving. For example, one of the things about our home that bothers me is that it's townhouse style: we have three floors and the third (loft) floor is a playroom and office/guest bedroom -- both of which don't get a ton of use because they feel so far away from the rest of the house. It feels like wasted real estate and I'd rather simply live in a smaller house or one of the same size with a more sensible layout. When I explained to Laurel that one reason I want to move is because I'd prefer a house where a play area can be closer to where the rest of the family is hanging out, she was completely on board with this idea!
5. Talk about the high's and low's, even if they're the same thing. I've talked to Laurel about how moving is a big deal; that's it's not something we'd just do on a whim because it involves a lot of coordination. However, I've also told her that for the right place, it would be worth it. And I have allayed her worries about ensuing chaos by sharing that moving is also a fantastic time to declutter (I'm a huge fan of the if-you-haven't-used-it-since-your-last-move-it's-time-to-donate-it approach) and that things like hiring help to haul the stuff (which we've done every single time since Jon and I first relocated for my graduate school program...best money spent, hands down) makes the process much easier.
If you're moving soon, check out these tips for moving with toddlers and rocking the weekend move. And think about trying out Unpakt. As I mentioned in point #5 I'm a huge fan of hiring moving help and in the past I've needed to do it old school -- lots of phone calls and notes and "I'll call you back later with an estimate." Since I'm not wild about the phone to begin with, I love that there's now an easy way to get simultaneous quotes from already vetted movers without picking up the phone. Yay, technology! Finally, if you have other ideas to share about how to talk to kids about moving, feel free to share in the comments below!
Disclosure: This post was inspired by both my personal itch to relocate and a well timed sponsored opportunity by Unpakt.com. (From the sponsor: Exclusively for Boston Mamas readers, visit Unpakt.com and enter code BOSMAMAS for 10% instant cash back on your next move! Must book move by 3/1/13)
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