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Cover story: Making move easier for kids
Question of the Day
As the summer winds down, some parents and children are busy preparing for the big day. No, not the first day of school, but moving day.
Rushing to close on and move into a new home before the new school year begins is a familiar experience around this time of year for parents of school-age children.
The busiest moving season is from about the second week in June to the end of August, right before school starts, according to Phil Warner, director of business development at Ward North American Moving in Dulles, Va.
Experts say it’s easy for kids to get lost in the shuffle as the boxes are being packed and last-minute details are getting settled. They say it’s important to include children, from toddlers to teenagers, in the process of moving to a new home.
Child behavior experts say children experience a wide range of emotions that can go from excitement to anxiety.
“Moving is a big adjustment for the whole family, but children are particularly vulnerable to confusion, anger and grief, as they may not be able to comprehend the ‘big picture’ of how the move will benefit the family,” says Carrie Singer, a clinical psychologist in Alexandria, Va.
Moving also often involves leaving a safe, secure base where a child has been raised and formed cherished memories, Ms. Singer says. She advises parents to give children as much notice as possible about the potential move date so they have time for closure.
“Having a going-away party, even if you’re only moving a few blocks, sends the message that the change is worth celebrating and solidifies the reality of the impending transition,” Ms. Singer says.
John Heithaus knows firsthand how stressful moving can be; he has moved eight times in his career, five of those times with children in tow. As a relocation expert and chief marketing officer of the Multiple Regional Information System, Mr. Heithaus says moving into a new home should be a family affair.
“It used to be that when dad was promoted, the kids all just sucked it up and moved,” he says.
“The greater challenge today is that kids are a lot more empowered and connected,” Mr. Heithaus says, adding that a teenager may not want to move schools because he is on the valedictorian track and another child may be concerned about leaving a competitive sports team.
“Moving today involves multiple agendas requiring family meetings,” says Mr. Heithaus, who suggests families take a military-style approach to moving by mapping out the situation. He says the difference in moving today versus a decade or so ago is the wealth of resources and tools available on the Internet.
Experts say getting children plugged into the community - even before the actual move - can help. Mr. Heithaus‘ son enjoys playing soccer, so before his move to the Washington area, he was able to find a North Bethesda team, e-mail the coach and register for the team, all before moving.
“The key is to gather information and share it with your entire family,” Mr. Heithaus says.
New mapping technology also has made it easy to go online and look at places around your new neighborhood, which is especially convenient for long-distance moves. While the Internet can be helpful, however, Mr. Heithaus says there’s also a lot of bad or misleading information online, and he says the Internet shouldn’t replace being on the ground and driving around your new community.
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About the Author
By Michael P. Orsi
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