As the first day of summer greets us today, many thousands of families across the country are planning, packing or in the midst of a move. Whether it's within the same county, the next state over, or across the country, moving can be a stressful time for children.
Between 2002 and 2003, some 40 million people -- 14 percent of the population -- moved, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Kidshealth.org, the largest and most visited website that provides doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence, says it's common for kids to go through a range of emotions upon the news they'll be moving -- fear, excitement, anger, sadness, stress.
If you're moving because you and your spouse are going through a divorce, or your spouse died, your children will need you more than ever. Although you'll undoubtedly be going through your own range of emotions, the experts say it's important to be there for your kids to voice the myriad feelings they're encountering.
Century 21, a real estate company, says when it's time to break the news you should start by telling your children as soon as possible. Kids need time to get used to the idea of moving, so give them as much forewarning as you can.
Next, be there to answer all their questions.
"What they ask will give you an idea of how they're feeling -- excited or uneasy," the website says. "And some questions may offer an ideal way to get them involved in the move process immediately, such as suggesting they get online to investigate the new community."
Your children's attitude will mirror yours, so be positive and optimistic about the upcoming move.
Finally, make them a part of the process -- planning, packing and perhaps helping to choose the new home.
Once the announcement is made about the pending move, experts suggest you follow these tips, when applicable with your children:
- Bring your child when you look at houses so they understand and come to accept that the family will be moving. It will also make them feel an important part of the process and perhaps bring a sense of excitement for them.
- If you're moving to another part of the state or to a different state, pull out a map and show your child where you'll be moving. Explain any differences in weather or any nearby attractions that may interest the child, such as moving closer to the ocean, the mountains, even close to an amusement park. Look at websites with information about your new community.
- Plan a visit to your child's new school. Try to arrange for your child to meet the teacher ahead of time.
- Look into sports and other extra-curricular activities that interest your child so you know how and when to sign up. For older children involved in high school sports, look at area newspapers to read up on the teams' activities.
- Before you move, hold a going-away party for your child. Encourage your child to keep contact with his or her old friends while encouraging new friendships. Buy them an address book to record old contacts.
- Help your child put together a scrapbook, photo album or journal of your old house and special memories the family shared.
- When you move into your new home, begin a new keepsake and encourage your child to write about his or her hopes and expectations at the new home.
- Encourage your child to take part in the moving process as much as possible. Younger children can help back some of their favorite items to help them realize that although the family will be in a new home, their belongings will stay with them.
- Once you've selected your new house, show your child where his or her room will be. Draw a sketch of the room layout and let your child take part in determining where he or she will place the furniture.
- If your budget allows, perhaps help your child choose a new décor for the new bedroom. If nothing else, new paint in a favorite color is an inexpensive way to brighten up the room and give your child a sense of personalizing his or her new room.
- For toddler-aged children, speak with pediatricians regarding such issues as the introduction of a new diet or the start of toilet training.