Making Moving Easier for Your Child

February 12th, 2013 posted by Elizabeth Pantley

family at new house


We’re planning a move and want it to go smoothly for our child. What ways can we soften the blow of this major transition?

Assume the Best

Most children adjust quickly to a move, especially when the parents plan in advance. Use these ideas to make this move easier for your child, and consequently, for yourself!

Plan a Visit

If possible, visit the new home, the new neighborhood, and the new school a few times. When your child has a clear image of where you’re headed, she’ll be more comfortable. If you’re moving out of state, and if you visit the new city, take plenty of pictures. Visit or write the local chamber of commerce or ask your real estate agent to do this for you. Obtain brochures and information that you can peruse with your child. Gather information or call for brochures from the local zoo, amusement park, water-play park, public swimming pool, theaters, youth groups, or any other sites your child might like. It’s especially important to find out about those things that your child is most interested in. For example, if your child loves to roller blade, find out where she can do this, if she loves horses, find out about the local stables. Plan to visit a few of these places soon after your move.

Pack Their Bedroom Last, Unpack it First

Don’t use this time to “spring clean” your child’s bedroom or toss old toys. Kids tend to panic if they get to the new home and can’t find any of their old, familiar junk. Children adjust easier if they find their familiar belongings at the new home. If possible, put the room together right away including pictures on the wall. Your child will then have a haven in the middle of all the chaos. (You can hide there, too, if you want!) Arrange your child’s room in the same way as it was at your old home, so it will be familiar. If your children are old enough and interested, allow them to help unpack and arrange their bedroom. Relax a few standard rules, for example, let her put posters up on her walls, build a fort over her bed, or set up her train set around the borders of the bedroom.

Avoid Moving Day Distress

If possible let your child spend the actual moving day with a relative or friend. May kids find it difficult to see everything pulled from the house and loaded onto a truck. Reassure your child that everything inside your home is going to be moved to the new one. Young children seem to have a hard time understanding this. It may help to walk around the house and talk about what you are taking with you: the refrigerator, the sofa, and the lamps.

Create a “First Things” Box

Let your child have a box or suitcase with all her most important things as a “carry on” instead of packing these things in boxes. It can lend a real feeling of security for her to have her favorite toys and clothes with her.

Stay Positive and Upbeat

Your child will pick up on your attitude. If you are stressed and fearful that your child will have a hard time with the move, she just may follow your lead. Often, parents become so busy and stressed during a move that they don’t realize how short-tempered they are with their children. Try to be sensitive to your child’s confused emotions right now. Focus on the good aspects of the move. If you find that you just can’t be Pollyanna right now, be kind to your child and let her spend some extra time at a family member or friend’s house. (Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999)

Editor’s Notes

Elizabeth Pantley offers some great advice above for moving with your children. Having four children, and having gone through several moves in my lifetime, both as a parent and a child, I personally believe that one of the most important things for elementary and preteen children is their friends. Keeping this in mind, if your new home is close enough, try to arrange for monthly or quarterly visits, with phone conversations and pen pal type letters in between. If the move is too far for frequent visits, encourage your child to write to her friend by giving her some “fancy” stationary and envelopes for the occassion. Be sure to jot down the birthdates of their best friends so they can send birthday cards, and even a small present when the time comes. Have your child record those dates in a journal, diary, or address book, along with friend’s phone numbers and addresses. And of course, let’s not forget the internet! Within moderation, IM and email is a wonderful way for kids to stay in contact with long distance friends. Children have different personalities and will react differently to the same situation. For example, my eldest son loves moving. He likes change, and especially likes riding in the moving truck! My daughter, on the other hand, becomes very emotional, and often angry that we are seperating her from her friends and her school. Watch your child, talk to them, find out how they feel about the move. After all, they are moving too!

Our friends at Dollar Stretcher have a great feature called 6 Saving Tips When Moving you can check out as well.

Recommended Reading

: The New Homeowner’s Handbook is a money saving, anxiety-reducing manual on what to do after you have moved into a new residence. Barbara Bucholz and Margaret Crane collaborated with the Nehemiah Corporation to write this helpful compendium of hints and tips for homeowners on balancing a budget, stretching finances, decorating inexpensively, saving money on do-it-yourself home repairs, managing taxes, dealing with insurance, as well as maintaining a home in good shape for maximum value, comfort and livability. The New Homeowner’s Handbook is a “must” for anyone wanting to get the most out of one of live’s largest financial and emotional investments — their home! (courtesy Amazon)

Elizabeth Pantley (57 Posts)

Elizabeth Pantley is also the president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues. Elizabeth’s newsletter, Parent Tips is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Twins, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. You can visit her website at

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