Moving Cross-Country with Kids: Navigating the Emotional Journey

Moving can be an exhilarating and emotionally challenging experience, for adults and kids. Add in a long move – say cross country – and emotions can take a back seat to logistics. Children face their own unique set of emotional struggles during these transitions. Helping them deal with the upheaval of relocating involves understanding their perspective and employing strategies to ease their transition. Many of our working dads have had to experience this situation due to both personal and professional changes in life. We put together their thoughts.

Acknowledging Their Feelings: The first step in supporting your kids through a cross-country move is acknowledging and validating their emotions. Children might express a range of feelings, from excitement about new adventures to sadness over leaving behind friends, schools, and familiar surroundings. Encouraging open communication and actively listening to their concerns creates an environment of trust and even a sense of control over the situation. This will make it easier for them to come to terms with the change.

Involvement in the Process: Involve your kids in the moving process to make them feel empowered and part of the decision-making. By allowing them to contribute ideas about their new home or neighborhood (or even the road trip if applicable), you instill a sense of ownership and control over aspects of the move, mitigating feelings of helplessness.

Maintaining Routines: Amidst the chaos of packing and moving, try to maintain familiar routines as much as possible. Consistency in daily activities, such as mealtimes, bedtime rituals, and playtime, can provide a sense of stability and security for children amidst the changes. It may be a little extra effort with so much already on your plate, but keeping “Friday Night Pizza Night” in the routine will help keep peace in the water while you all adjust to the move. And hey! Who doesn’t like pizza! 

Encouraging Connections: Help your kids stay connected with their friends and family from the previous location. Set up video calls, encourage letter writing, or plan visits back to maintain these important relationships. Assuring them that distance doesn’t diminish friendships can alleviate feelings of loss and loneliness.

Emotional Support and Patience: Be patient and understanding as your children adjust to the new environment. They might exhibit mood swings, regress in behavior, or experience homesickness. Providing a compassionate ear and reassurance during these moments is crucial for their emotional well-being. 

Creating a Sense of Home: Make the new house feel like home swiftly. Start with their belongings. Set up their room familiarly, and perhaps recreate elements from their old room if possible. Familiar items, toys, or decorations can provide comfort and a sense of continuity in the new surrounding.

Family Bonding: Lastly, prioritize family bonding during this transition. Engaging in activities together, exploring the new neighborhood and community as a family, and creating positive memories can strengthen your familial bonds, fostering resilience and support among family members.

Moving cross country with kids can be emotionally challenging, but with patience, empathy, and proactive measures, parents can significantly ease the transition. Understanding and addressing their emotional needs during this time can set the stage for a smoother adjustment to their new environment and lay the foundation for exciting new adventures.

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