Huntsville Real Estate: Moving With Children – Pleasant Experience Or Nightmare?

By: Huntsville Real Estate Expert Mike Manosky On September 29, 2008

movingHuntsville Real Estate – Moving With Children

The US Census Bureau reports that approximately one-fifth of all Americans will move every year. Moving into or out of Huntsville, or just across town, can be one of the most stressful experiences a family ever faces. No matter what the age of the child, change can be a difficult adjustment.

With older children moves interrupt friendships; with younger children a move can cause the child to be more dependent on parents when he/she should be going through the normal separation process that is part of growing up.

Some children do not talk about their distress. Parents should be aware of the warning signs of depression:

  • changes in appetite
  • withdrawal
  • a drop in grades
  • irritability
  • sleep disturbances
  • dramatic changes in behavior.

Properly preparing your child for the move is critical to a good adjustment in your new home.

Timing – Should The Move Be Postponed?

Under some circumstances, the timing for a move just isn’t right, and it should be postponed if possible.

For example, a family that has been subjected to a major life change such as divorce or death might have tremendous problems adjusting to yet another major life change – a move.

Children are affected by parental attitudes and pick up signals about adult feelings. Children depend on parents for reassurance. If one or both of the parents really doesn’t want to make the move, the results can be traumatic for the child.

Communicating with your child and involving your child in planning and decision making (at an age-appropriate level) can go a long way in providing reassurance. Talk early and often in a positive way, and plan ahead.

Under Age 6 – Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Children under age six are the easiest to move, but young children are also by far the most dependent on parental guidance during the process.

  • Keep explanations clear and simple
  • Stories and books about moving are helpful
  • Act out the move with trucks and dolls
  • Do not sell any toys if you have a garage sale
  • Make sure the child understands during packing that you aren’t throwing his things away
  • Do not replace your child’s bedroom furniture
  • Don’t start toilet training and don’t take away the pacifier, bottle or any other items of emotional comfort during this stressful period
  • Don’t make false promises that you can’t fulfill (e.g., “We can have a dog at the new house.”)

Your child will need a lot of one-on-one attention during the move.

School-Age Children – They’re Less Pliable Than Toddlers

There are two different schools of thought about the ‘right’ time to move. Many people feel that summer is the best time to avoid disruption during the school year. Now, some experts recommend that a mid-year move is best so that children can meet schoolmates right away and benefit from the novelty and attention of being ‘the new kid’.

Middle school children may be the most open to moving since they are already in a period of transition between elementary school and high school.

Just remember that a child’s experiences in school can make or break a move. Before you move, make sure you gather all the information the new school will need including report card, transcript, birth certificate, medical records, standard test results and information about any special programs your child has been participating in. Teachers generally expect an adjustment period of about 6 weeks.

Teenagers – They May Actively Rebel

While younger children may not understand exactly what’s happening when you bring up the subject of a move, teenagers do understand and may actively rebel.

Many teenagers have invested a lot of time in belonging to a particular social group. Some are involved in a romantic relationship. A teenager who participates in multiple school activities – sports teams, musical performances, etc. – may feel you are destroying their life by a move. Do NOT be dismissive about the importance of all of the above. Do NOT say things like “You’ll do fine after we move. Just look at how popular you are here.”

Be supportive and understanding. Point out that the move is a rehearsal for future changes such as going away to college. After the move, allow your teenager to visit old friends. If your teen is strongly resistant (or a senior in high school), you might want to consider allowing him to remain in the old location with a relative or friend.

After The Move – Ease The Transition

Following are a few tips for after the move:

  • Get the children’s rooms in order before the rest of the house – they need a safe haven.
  • Maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime.
  • Introduce children to their new school as soon as possible but not necessarily the day after you move.
  • With younger children, be sure to accompany them to school and meet their teachers.
  • Allow your children to invite new friends over often.

If your child has adjusted after 6-8 weeks, it may be time to seek a family therapist.

Good things can come from a Huntsville move: many families grow closer, parents learn more about their children, and some children experience a new sense of independence and accomplishment.

Learn more about Huntsville real estate and moving with children at or give us a call, 256-508-0211.

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