Although you’ve packed up the house, loaded the moving truck and settled into your new home, helping your kids adjust to the change can take time. Whether you’ve moved across town or across the country, uprooting kids from their familiar surroundings, friends and routines can be challenging.
The good news is there are some simple things you can do to help make the transition smoother for your little ones. With patience and compassion, you’ll get through the move with your kids — and enjoy your new home as a family in no time.
Why Moving Is Hard for Kids
Moving to a new place is tough for kids. Their whole world has been uprooted and everything familiar is now gone. It’s normal for them to feel sad, angry or anxious.
For kids, leaving friends behind is one of the hardest parts. Rebuilding their social circle takes time and patience. Encourage your child to participate in activities where they can connect with other kids, like joining a sports team, club or place of worship. While it’s tempting to rely on social media, face-to-face interaction is best for forming new friendships.
Stick to a Routine
Having structure and familiar routines can help kids feel more secure in their new surroundings. Try to establish regular mealtimes, bedtimes and schedules for homework and chores. Even small things like reading books together before bed can be comforting.
Answer Questions Honestly
Listen to your child and answer any questions they may have honestly and to the best of your ability. Discuss both the challenges and opportunities of the move. Share your own experiences of going through change as a kid. Let them know their feelings are normal and that it’s okay to feel sad. With your love and support, their pain will lessen over time.
Explore the Neighborhood
Once your child seems ready, explore the new neighborhood together. Check out the closest park, join a recreational center, or visit nearby shops and restaurants. Building familiarity and positive associations with the new place will help it start to feel like home.
Allow Time to Adjust
Give your kids time to adjust to their new surroundings. Don’t expect them to feel comfortable right away. It can take weeks or even months to start feeling like their new house is a home. Be patient and give them space to process the change.
Maintain Family Routines and Traditions
Maintaining familiar routines and traditions is key to helping your kids feel secure in their new surroundings. Sticking to the usual schedules and practices you had before the move will provide comfort during this transition.
Focus on the routines your family values most, like:
- Bedtime rituals: Keep your usual bath time, story time and lullabies intact. Having the familiar bedtime routine will help them sleep better in the new place.
- Mealtimes: Cook some of your kids’ favorite meals from your old home. Sit down together as a family for dinner when possible. Mealtime conversations and bonding will help make the new place feel more like home.
- Weekend activities: Try to resume hobbies, sports teams, faith communities and social events you took part in before. Sign your kids up for the same extracurricular activities. Maintaining these social connections will help combat feelings of isolation.
- Holiday traditions: Celebrate holidays and special occasions the way you always have. Replicate your Halloween traditions or bake your family’s favorite holiday cookies. They’re simple things that can be deeply comforting.
Explore Your New Surroundings
Walk or bike around the block a few times to start mapping the area in your mind. Look for landmarks like parks, schools, libraries or community centers that can help orient you.
Check out local shops and restaurants. Grab coffee, ice cream or lunch at different places each time you go out. Not only will you find new favorites, but also meet some of the people in the neighborhood. Strike up conversations with shop owners, servers or baristas. Ask them questions about the area and for recommendations. Let them know you just moved in —they may have advice or tips to share.
Seek out playgrounds, sports fields or recreational facilities nearby. This gives kids opportunities to be active and blow off steam, while also potentially meeting other children with common interests. Arrange playdates or invite neighbors over to make those initial connections.
With each exploration, your knowledge and comfort level will grow. Feeling at home in your surroundings and building connections within the community help establish a sense of place. Discovering all your neighborhood has to offer together as a family can turn what seems unfamiliar into a place where you feel like you belong.
Having a listening ear and sympathetic shoulder to cry on can help ease their stress and anxiety. Talk to your kids about how the move and changes make them feel. Provide opportunities for them to share what they miss about their old home or worries they have about starting over. Reassure them that the painful feelings are only temporary, even though the move is permanent.
Ask your kids open-ended questions to get them talking, such as:
- What did you enjoy most about our old neighborhood?
- What are you looking forward to at the new school? What are you nervous about?
- What can we do to help you feel more comfortable in our new home?
Validate their feelings by saying things like:
- I understand why you feel that way. I would feel the same if I were in your shoes.
- It’s okay to feel sad. Moving is hard. I’m here for you if you want to talk about it.
Let your kids know you’re also available to listen anytime they need to share their feelings. Keep checking in on them regularly and look for subtle signs they may be struggling, like changes in behavior, sleep or appetite. The more they open up, the more equipped you’ll be to provide the support they need during this transition.
While change can be hard, focusing on the opportunities and adventure in a new place can help shift mindsets to a more positive outlook. With time and the support of friends and family, your kids will settle in and thrive.