Children feel powerless when you tell them you’re moving. “They usually don’t have any input in the decision,” says Lori Collins Burgan, social worker and author of Moving with Kids. “So involve them in as many other decisions as you can.”
- Make a family wish list. This will help you reach a consensus on some of the things you all want from your new home: a bigger backyard, a basement playroom, and separate rooms for the kids. For Jennifer Thompson’s daughter Reagan, 5, the beach was tops. “My husband’s new job was in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but we chose a house in Emerald Isle — a 30-minute commute for him — so we could be near the water,” says Thompson.
- House-hunt together. If it’s practical, take your children to see prospective houses with you. If you’re searching online, bookmark your favorites so your kids can take a look.
- Let her map out her new room. Bring home paint swatches so that your child can choose a color. Then make it an art project: Have her paste snapshots of her bed and furniture onto a sheet of construction paper.
- Pack a treasure box. Give your child his own packing box that he can decorate with stickers and use for his favorite things. Take it in the car with you so he can keep it close.
- Throw a goodbye party. “It will bring closure to the friendships you’re leaving behind,” Burgan says. Keep it simple: a basic chips-and-dips affair or a potluck.
- Tour your old haunts. Visit special neighborhood spots one last time before you move. “My sons Alex, 8, and Andrew, 6, had become really close to their babysitters,” says Jeanhee Hoffman, from Honolulu. “So before we moved we arranged for the sitters to spend time with the boys and take them to say goodbye to their favorite places.”
- Make a memory book. Your child can fill it with photos of your home and her friends, along with their e-mail addresses.
- Say goodbye to your home. During a family meal ask each kid to recall a favorite memory in the old house.