Moving: Books and Tips for Helping Kids (and You) Through the Transition

by , posted on October 14th, 2013 in The Reading Nook

books + tips to help with family moves

A few days ago someone asked me where I’ve lived and when I listed the places (Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Cape Town, and Toronto), they said, “you’ve moved a lot!” It doesn’t FEEL like that but I suppose that I HAVE moved often.

With so many moves, I had my “move process” down pat. I am a master at packing up, at finding a new place, at sussing out a neighborhood. I know how to find my people in the new city, my fave activities, restaurants and coffee places.

But I had never moved as a parent. Til my last move.

Two years ago my mother-in-law was living on her own and starting to struggle a bit. My father-in-law had passed away and we decided to move back to Vancouver from Toronto to provide more support.

Our daughter was 5 ½ and had just finished kindergarten. It was a good age to move – she had friends but her life still was focused primarily on family. As long as we were around she was up for anything.

My “move process” became our “family move process” and here’s what I learned:

1. Put your own oxygen mask on first
They always say this before a flight, right? Well, it applies here too. Even at the best of times, moving WILL be stressful. Make sure that you do your best to look after your own physical and emotional health during the move so that you can be there for your kids.

Eat well, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and try to enjoy yourself along the way.

2. Take into account your child’s personality
Some kids are fine with change – our daughter is keen on the “new”. She loves adventure and exploring which made the move a little easier.

A friend of hers is the opposite – she needs everything to remain the same. No “right or wrong”, just different personalities.

Work with who they are – you aren’t going to change how they are hard-wired. A little more on the anxious side of things? Take extra time to provide a lot of reassurance.

No matter what, keep the dialogue open about the move. Answer their questions as honestly as you can. And if you don’t know the answer, tell them that you will find out. And do find out!

3. Be positive
Maybe your move wasn’t your choice (a job transfer perhaps?). Maybe you are moving to a city that just isn’t your first choice or even your third choice. No matter the reason, stay positive. Your kids will follow your lead.

4. But also be realistic
Don’t overpromise what you or the new city will be able to deliver. They need to know that it will take time to settle in, make friends and feel comfortable.

5. Think about school, social and family life
Contact the principal of your child’s new school to get a few names of kids who will be in his/her grade. Arrange a play date at a playground. They may not become best friends but at least there’ll be a friendly face on the first day of school.

Are your kids involved in extracurricular activities? Do some research to find out where to register them for similar activities in your new location. Figure out HOW to register – are there set dates and times months in advance? A lottery system? Or can you show up last minute?

In your family is Friday pizza and movie night? Do it the first Friday in your new city. Keep the family rituals going.

And of course being the book hound that I am, here are three excellent ones that we enjoyed:
Saying Good-bye, Saying Hello…When Your Family Is Moving
Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move
Moving House

I’d love to hear what other tips you have for making a family move as smooth as possible. What’s worked and what hasn’t worked?

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