Moving is never easy, even when you’re moving to an exciting city like Los Angeles or New York. It is especially hard on kids who have a hard time understanding and processing big changes. Heck, even if you’re just moving from a city’s suburbs into the city proper, moving is going to be really difficult for your little ones. Here are some tips to help make that transition easier:
Explore Ahead of Time
Three cheers for the internet! Now, thanks to apps like Google Maps, Yelp, Trip Planner, etc. you can thoroughly explore a new city and neighborhood before you move there. You can take a virtual walk around the block. You can take a virtual drive. Sit down with your kids and “walk” around their new digs. Show them the virtual tour of the house, condo, or apartment you’ve chosen for your new home. Definitely take the kids on a virtual tour of the school they will be attending. Most schools now have virtual tours and videos of their grounds, classrooms, etc.
In addition to showing your kids what their actual neighborhoods and schools will look like, spend some time exploring the city’s attractions and amenities. For example, if your kids like sports, spend some time watching the Lakers, Dodgers, and Kings games on TV. Satellite packages like the Sunday Ticket make it possible to watch/DVR games simultaneously. Click here for more information about satellite packages servicing Los Angeles and other major markets.
And, of course, for kids who aren’t as into sports, the close proximity to DisneyLand and Universal Studios might be what they need to get excited about moving to southern California.
Make Friends in Advance
One of the best things you can do to help your kids feel better about their upcoming move is to help them find new friends in their new cities before the move takes place. Part of what makes moving so difficult is feeling like you’re moving to a place where you won’t know anybody or have any friends (as well as the sadness about leaving friends behind).
This feeling intensifies if you’re moving during the middle of the school year. Contact your child’s school before you move and reach out to their future teachers. That teacher might be able to set your kids up with classroom penpals who can tell them what to expect and with whom they can forge new friendships.
In addition to contacting their schools, reach out to future coworkers and any friends you might already have in the city. Ask to set up play dates or to be set up with their parent friends who have kids roughly the same ages as yours. Knowing that you have Mom and Dad friends with whom you can hang out during kids events will go a long way toward helping you feel better about the move which, in turn will help your kids feel better about the move.
Give Your Kids Some Control
Part of what makes moving so incredibly difficult for young kids is the total lack of control over what is happening. When you feel like you have no control over what happens to you, it’s natural to act out and to feel fearful. Heck, even an adult behaves poorly when they feel like they’ve lost control over their situations!
To help combat this feeling of helplessness, ask them for their opinions and–this is the important part–take those opinions seriously. For example, as you’re looking at real estate online, show your kids pictures of the homes you’re interested in and ask them to help you evaluate them. And, when it comes time to pack, have them sort through and pack their belongings with you. Asking kids what they think they should keep or get rid of helps them feel like they’ve got choices instead of that suddenly beloved belongings are being taken away (which can feel like a massive and confusing punishment).
It is vitally important that you let your kids say goodbye to their current homes, neighborhoods and friends. Even in our ultra-connected digital age where social media, texting, Face-time, etc. can keep people connected across miles and time zones, it will help your kids to have some important last moments with the people and places they love. It is also important that you take a back seat in the planning of this. Let your children decide how they want to say goodbye and then do your best to facilitate that decision (within reason of course).
Finally, it is important to be honest with your kids throughout the process. Sure you can talk up Los Angeles a lot, but your kids will feel better about their insecurities if they know that you sometimes feel intimidated or overwhelmed about this move too.