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Updated on May 21, 2008

In our highly mobile society, families move across state lines all the time. Psychologists say relocating is one of the most stressful experiences people face on a regular basis. And if it’s stressful for you, it may be even more so for your children, who not only leave their friends and home behind, but face a new school. While moving's always a lot of work, it doesn’t have to carry a lot of heartbreak. Here are some tips to make it easier on your kids:

  • When telling them about your decision, stress the positives (“There’s a great park right across the street from our new house!”) but don’t expect them to jump on the bandwagon right away. Some anxiety is natural. Instead, say, “I know it’s hard to move, but we’ll find good things in the new place, too.”

  • One of the hardest things about moving is leaving old friends behind. Encourage your children to stay in touch with their pals, and offer to set up e-mail, arrange a visit or help write letters if they can’t independently do so. If your child is too young to arrange his own social life, talk to his best friend’s parents to see if you could arrange a webcam session.
  • Let your child pick a few toys, books and important objects to be carried along in a suitcase rather than packed away to languish in boxes. That way she’ll have some personal objects during the trip and as soon as you arrive at the new location.

  • Pack homey touches from your children’s rooms in well-labeled boxes and set up their rooms with familiar decorations as soon as possible so they can start settling in.

  • If at all possible, try to arrange play-dates with neighborhood kids, or kids bound for the same school as yours before school starts.

  • Joining a local parents’ club – ideally, before the move – will help you scout out the best pediatricians and extracurricular activities in advance.
  • Moving demonstrates to kids that they are not in control of their own destinies (yet). Give them the illusion of control by having them help sort out which toys to keep and which to donate, and let them pick out a few new decorations on their own. 

In the new house, stick to tried and true routines as much as possible, while giving everyone a break by ordering pizza, allowing a little more TV than usual, and providing extra TLC until everyone’s settled in.

 

Need help choosing a school where you're moving? Check out Education.com's School Finder.

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