Communication is Key
There is no point tiptoeing around the topic or trying to speak in code. Children are a lot smarter than most parents think. They will figure out that something is going on and then they will feel betrayed that you kept a secret from them. If they are going to be upset, it doesn’t matter if you tell them a month or a day ahead of time.You might as well tell them right away so they have time to get used to, and even excited about the idea. Telling them at the last minute just is not fair. If they have proper notice, they have time to be mad, pout, act out, and then slowly start thinking about the new opportunities waiting for them. By the time moving day comes they may be the first person up and ready to go.
When you communicate about the move, make sure they know that it is not their fault and that you understand that they don’t want to leave their friends. It is a good idea to research a few attractions or kid-friendly activities in the area that you can tell them about.
Make Decorating Plans
Has your child been bugging you to paint their bedroom pink? Maybe they really want a new race car bed and matching wallpaper. Now is the time to use this to your advantage. Their bedroom is their personal space, so if they know they will have the opportunity to have a say in how it is decorated, it could help them become excited. Maybe you want to get chalkboard paint and create a giant chalkboard on a wall, or perhaps you will finally create a constellation on the ceiling with glow stickers.
Create a Map
Since they have not been there and they have no concept of distance, you really can’t tell them that the beach is two miles away, or that there is a huge playground at the end of the road. Get a big piece of poster board and create a map of fun for them, so they already feel like they know the area before they get there. If there is a park, beach, miniature golf, go-karts, ice cream parlor, zoo, or even an amusement park nearby, draw it on. When they see how many fun things they have to look forward to, then leaving behind this boring old town won’t be so hard.
Party with Friends
Your child’s biggest fear may be saying goodbye to their friends and thinking it is forever. Although there are some people they likely will never see again, there is no reason why they can’t have a “see you soon” party. They can exchange addresses and keep in touch. Maybe one of their friends can come visit for a week during the summer too.
Once your child is in their new school, have a party right away. It is hard being the new kid in school, but hosting a party at the local skating rink could help. Or, you can always invite new friends over for a sleepover, or scavenger hunt. Pretty soon they will love their new home.