Home: Moving to a New Home: Part 2
Part 2: Making the Transition Easier
Moving can be both an exciting and a stressful time for a family. But understanding your children's emotions and developmental stages is the first step to helping them transition to a new environment. If you haven't already, read the first part of this article, "Moving to a New Home: What to Expect."
Before the Move
Have an Exploration Night
If you are moving a great distance, explore your new city together on the Internet. Pop some popcorn and gather around the family computer. Keep things positive and look for new places to go for family picnics or for ice cream. Most towns have a tourism website, where you can look for fun community events and places of interest. You might even find the children's new schools online. If your children are active in community sports, look up the local Little League or other programs. You may also want to try to find instructors for whatever lessons they may be taking (i.e. music, dance).
You can also contact the travel bureau or chamber of commerce and have them send you brochures and travel guides. Or if you have a membership to a travel association, such as AAA, you can pick up maps and travel books there. You may even find books at the library on your new location. Other sources of information include your new employer, real estate agency, church or other community organizations.
If your new home is nearby, consider driving your children to their new home and letting them explore the area. Show them their new school or Little League ball field, and any other places that would be important to them. Or, if your children are unable to visit their new home before the move, show them photos that you or the real estate agency took of the house.
Encourage your family members to create their own memories before they leave. Better Homes & Gardens (BHG) suggests compiling a video "memory book" of friends, favorite places and the home before things are packed up. If your family doesn't own a video recorder, considering renting one or simply taking photographs. If your family has plenty of time before the move, consider having each member make their own photo scrapbook to carry with them on the plane or car ride to your new home. You may even want to consider having a moving party and invite the friends of your family members to help them say goodbye.
Keep in Touch
Explain to your children that even though they won't be able to see their friends as often, they can still keep their friendships. They can write letters, send e-mails or talk online with an Instant Messenger program. Or you may want to consider allowing a certain number of long-distance or cell phone calls (be sure to set of firm rules about long-distance use).
Keep the Traditions
Help maintain a sense of familiarity and consistency with your family by keeping certain traditions, both during the move and in your new home. BHG explains, "Every family has its own traditions or habits that give its members their unique family identity. It may be eating waffles on Saturday mornings, walking around the neighborhood, or enjoying a favorite TV program together. Whatever your family does to distinguish itself should be maintained as much as is practical to ease the stresses associated with moving."
Settling into Your New Home
After you have moved into your new home, begin creating a new sense of belonging right away. If your family had an Exploration Night as mentioned above, start exploring the new places you identified. Try out a new pizza place or ice cream parlor. Visit the local park or zoo. Then start contacting the local organizations for details on children's athletic programs and other activities they participate in. You may find that your new co-workers, neighbors or friends from church can give you good recommendations for piano teachers and dance studios. Contact the school about extra-curricular activities and clubs. Make sure your children begin making new friends, whether through the neighborhood, a church group or other activity.
Attending a New School
Be sure that you have contacted the school about any requirements (i.e. medical records) needed for your children. BHG encourages parents to, "Ask if copies of the most recent yearbook and school newspaper are available to help your child get an idea of the student population and what to expect on the first day of school." If possible, BHG suggests, "To reduce stress and uncertainty, visit the new school with your children while classes are in session. Meet the teacher. Pay attention to the styles of clothing, shoes, book bags, etc. With younger children, practice walking the route to school or riding the bus." Also, visit the school before they begin classes so children know where their classroom is and where they will meet you if you after school.
While no major life transition is easy, you can make circumstances better for your children by planning ahead and keeping communication open.
Sources and Recommended Reading
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