How to Get Your Kids Involved in Your Move

From our collaborators at Zoocasa.

While moving can be both hard and exciting for adults, it’s almost universally scary for children. The thought of having to make new friends, a new school, and a new home can be particularly challenging for little ones, who feel comforted by routine and structure. Introverted kids often take it the hardest, or those for which a move is precipitated by a problem, such a divorce or job loss. But if the move is for a happy reason — like upgrading to more suitable housing or moving to a better school district, then it’s much easier.

Despite the initial scariness, though, children are extremely resilient and it usually only takes them a few weeks to adjust, especially if parents offer them support and flexibility. Watch out for any signs like sleep issues, distraction in school, hyperactivity as a sign that your child needs deeper attention and support to adjust to the move.

One of the best ways to transform hesitant children into ones that are enthusiastic about moving is to include them in the process. But how exactly do you go about that?

Here’s 10 ways to get your kids more involved in a move

Moving with kids

1.Give your child a sneak peek at your new home

So you’ve scoured the Ontario MLS for months and months and finally found a few Toronto houses that work within your budget. Within a few weeks you settle on the perfect property and close the deal. As soon as you can, you should bring your child there and hype it up. Even if you’re not allowed inside yet, just seeing the exterior and the neighbourhood will get them excited. They’ll start to be able to envision their life there and think about all the possibilities. While you’re there you should include them in some minor decision making, like asking them about adding a garden or trees, if you should paint the door or add a basketball net to the driveway. It will allow them to look forward to these projects and take away some of the scary unknown.

2. Visit some neighbourhood hot spots

While you’re showing off your new home, consider stopping by some local attractions. Check out the library, the community centre, and other amenities. If your child sees where they’ll be doing extra-curricular activities it will continue to allow them to visualize their new life and eliminate the scary unknown. It’s also good for you to know where these essential amenities are! Make a list of preferred dry cleaners, coffee shops, grocery stores, convenience stores and gyms in the neighbourhood and check them out to see if they will work for you.

3. Act Excited About the Move

Your own attitude will go a long way into making your child feel comfortable and excited about the move. If you’re feeling fearful or unsure, that will seep through to your child; even if this move wasn’t exactly desired by you, try to look on the bright side and accept the situation. Try to push yourself to inject an excited note into your voice when you’re talking about the move and make it seem like a fun adventure. But don’t lie to your child because they will sense that — admit that maybe this is not the ideal situation but that you will be sure to make the best of it. And then do, in fact, make the best of it. And save the serious negative talk and your personal fears for private conversations with your partner.

4. Talk about the move openly

Don’t act as if this move is something that should be hidden — talk about it openly with your children. While you should always maintain a positive attitude, you must also set up a safe space where they can feel heard and ask questions. Sit down with your kids and explain to them why you are moving and answer any questions that they may have. Keep the explanations clear. Give them as much information as possible and be as truthful as possible. If you’re moving far away, show them on the Internet and Google Maps pictures of the new town and school and read a few descriptions of it aloud. Whatever you do, don’t invalidate their concerns. Hear them and acknowledge their feelings.

5. Set up playdates with old friends

Before you’ve even moved, set up a few playdates with your children’s best friends. That will make them feel secure and will reassure them they can maintain these relationships. If they know that they won’t have to go cold turkey and meet new friends, then it will be easier for them to get involved with the move. If this is impossible because the distance is too far, then perhaps allow your child to at least video chat with their friends or play video games online with them. You still may get a few weeks of tears in their new school but as long as they can look forward to having that connection with their friends, then it will likely be tempered.

6. Let them pick out furniture for their new room

The best way to get them involved with the move is to allow them some autonomy. Why not consider letting your child pick furniture for their new room? It doesn’t have to be all new of course, but head to Ikea or a second hand store and let them pick out a few inexpensive items. Even better if they can choose the paint colors and some accessories, like lamps and new bedsheets.

7. Let them help you pack up

If your kids are old enough, involve them in the packing process. Kids absolutely love bubble wrap so this should be pretty easy. Start with allowing them to pack up their rooms and set clear goals. If you’re looking to downsize then tell them they can have five boxes (or whatever number) and all their items must fit and everything else they will donate. But allow them to choose the items they most cherish — if you do it for them then they may get disruptive and resentful. After they are done with their room you can assign them further age-appropriate tasks, like helping their siblings pack up or writing names of items on boxes. If you have older children or teenagers then you can give them even more responsibility, like allow them to pack up the kitchen. There’s nothing kids hate more than feeling talked down to and like no one respects their help, so set high expectations for them and give them responsibilities. You may be surprised that they will meet your expectations, and not, in fact, smash your dishes.

8. Say goodbye properly your old home

Acknowledge that your kid may have serious feelings about leaving your old house and turn it into a celebration of moving to the next step by having a party. Say goodbye to the old house and turn it into a type of ritual. Order pizza or a cake and have a little party where the kids say goodbye to every room and important destinations in the neighbourhood. This may give them a sense of closure. The last thing you want is for your kids to feel uprooted.

9. Get their help unpacking

Once you actually move in to your new abode be sure to take advantage of your little helpers. Allow them to unpack their new rooms, or at least assist you in the process. This is a chance for them to have a blank slate and they may be very excited for that. If they want an odd furniture arrangement or a weird colour on the wall, let them have it. Those are minor things and it will help them feel like their feelings are heard and that they have some control over the situation. Yes, even if they want black walls and their bed on the diagonal.

10. Ask for their opinion on redecorating

Kids get really, really excited about pretty things, so if you plan to redecorate or renovate your new house then be sure to ask your children’s opinions. If you’re redoing your master bath, for example, ask them what kind of stone you should get and even take them to the hardware store. Then they will have something to talk about at their new school or use as conversation piece with their old friends. And involving them deeply will make them feel heard. You don’t have to actually take their opinion into account (except for their bedroom), but at least pretend you care what they think. They may surprise you with their clear and decisive opinions!

There’s no doubt that moving can be hard for children — but it can also be fun. It mostly comes down to how you present and communicate the move, and the reason for why you are moving. And the best way to involve your children is to actually involve them by seeking out their help and letting them take the lead on decisions. If you treat your children as real people with a real opinion they will become interested and animated about getting involved.

About Zoocasa

Zoocasa is a full-service brokerage that offers advanced online search tools to empower Canadians with the data and expertise they need to make more successful real estate decisions. View real estate listings at zoocasa.com or download our free iOS app.

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