Grandma's china, your wedding photo albums, your favorite dining room table -- it's all precious cargo when it comes to moving house. But if you're a parent moving a family, you know there's something even more precious, and that is making sure that your children and their belongings get to your new home safe and sound, and that the transition is as painless as possible. Here's how:
The right way to break the news
Whether your children are toddlers or teens, you'll want to tell them about your upcoming move at the right time. If your kids are older, they'll appreciate getting the news in time to get used to the idea and feel involved in the process. Younger kids need time, but not quite as much. A month or two is enough for them to say their good-byes but so much that anticipation turns into dread.
How to sell the move
Just as a real estate broker sold you on your new home and neighborhood, it's your job to sell it to your children. The more specific you can be about the hot spots -- the parks, the schools, the football team, the local hangouts, or whatever selling point will most appeal to your kids -- the more excited they'll get about the move. Use photos, maps, and destination brochures to bring your new home alive.
Address the separation anxieties
For kids, leaving their bedroom, their friends, their favorite tree in the backyard -- it's all fraught with emotion. Make sure you allow plenty of time to document favorite spots and friends in a scrapbook, to assemble address books, and to have good-bye events. Let your kids know it's normal to be sad during a transition like this, and that you're there for them whenever they need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to.
Get them involved and invested
Got a picture or floor plan of your child's new bedroom? Give it to him so he can plan what goes where. If your child would like a certain paint color or new curtains, let her pick those out, and try to make that happen before move-in day. Invest your child in packing his or her own special stuff, whether it's a stuffed animal or CD collection. Let kids create their own labels or decorate their own room boxes in their own distinctive style with drawings or colored tape. And make sure the child's absolute can't-live-without essentials -- Pooh Bear, iPod stereo system, favorite book, or whatever it may be -- is packed in a backpack for the kid to carry with him to his new room. There's nothing worse than getting to a new home and having to dig through 57 boxes to find a favorite blankie.
Make the first night special
Move-in day is exciting and exhausting for kids. There a few things that can make the first night feel better for them.
1. The priority should be making the kids' rooms feel homey and comfy -- and very familiar with all of their favorite things.
2. Make sure the first night is together-time with the whole family spending it doing something fun, whether it's eating pizza on top of boxes or having takeout while watching a favorite video. This is a great time to thank your children for their help and remind them that this house will soon be full of new family memories.