How to Help Kids Through a Move

8 ways to help kids survive a move
Even though my children couldn't wait to move - to live in a rural area, to have room for more animals, to live near Grandma and Grandpa and cousins - moving was a bit of a challenge. Especially for my 10 year old daughter. She was, after all, leaving the only home she'd ever known and moving to a new, totally unknown location. It was exciting, but scary and a little sad, too.

Whether you're moving to an apartment across town, or making a big move from urban life to country life, or moving to a new state or country, there are things you can do to help make the transition easier for your kids. Here are a few ideas that worked well for us.

1. Talk about the good things. This works best if it's part of a natural conversation, rather than a "let me sit you down and tell you something" sort of thing. Engage your child. Ask her what she can look forward to at the new place. Help her come up with more things to look forward to. (Just make sure they are realistic.)

2. Talk about the sad things. What will you miss about your old home? What memories do you have there? Remind your child that he will always have those memories, no matter where he lives. Allow your child to vent or speak freely about what he'll miss. Encourage your child to talk to God about these things, too.

3. Talk about her new room. Help your child imagine her new room. How can it be better than her old one? How would she like it to look? For my daughter, I browsed Pinterest ahead of time (so I could weed out unrealistic images) and made a board with ideas for her room. She loved looking at the Pins with me, and dreaming about how nice her new room would be.

4. Capture the old. Help your child find ways to capture his memories of his old home. For example, if your child likes to take photographs, encourage him to take some of the old house and put them in a special photo album. My daughter was especially fond of an old maple tree in our yard. Unbeknownst to me, she picked a leaf off of it as a keepsake and was in tears when it got lost. So we got another leaf from the tree and she did a leaf rubbing of it, which she plans to keep forever.

5. Say goodbye. There's a certain closure in saying goodbye out loud.

6. Take special care the first few nights. Many children don't like sleeping in unfamiliar places, so go out of your way to make things comfortable for your child. Use plenty of night lights (one in her room, one or more in the hallway, one in the bathroom). Make sure your child has all her favorite lovies (teddy bear, special blanket, etc.). And consider letting all the children sleep in one room together (even if they don't normally) for a few nights; this will add to their feelings of safety and security.

7. Make dreams come true. Tackle your child's room as soon as possible after the move, making it comfortable and homey. Think about the things your child dreamed for her room and make them a reality (as long as they are within reason). All those things your child was looking forward to about moving? Don't put them off; start doing them soon, so your child can quickly adjust to her new life. As an example, my daughter had been pining for a new pet rabbit ever since her first one died over a year ago. She knew she had to wait until we moved to get a new one, and about a week after we took possession of our new home, she fell apart, sobbing. Her heart just couldn't take the waiting any more. We picked up her new rabbit that weekend, and she's been a happy child ever since.

8. Be thankful. Talk about what you like about your new home, and thank God aloud for these things during the course of your day and when you're praying with your children. Encourage your children to do the same. Nothing heals a heart faster than thankfulness to the Lord!

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