SUBURBIA: Help Your Kids Adjust
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Making a move is tough, even if you’re just packing up and heading a few blocks uptown or downtown. Moving in the same building can even be a challenge—there are still boxes to pack and unpack, walls to paint and countless steps before your new house feels like a real home. But now you’re moving to SUBURBIA.
So what about when you and your kids make The Move—as in, the move from urban to suburban, from city to suburbia? How do you help lifelong city kids adjust to something else—something that’s, often, very different from the hustle and bustle of urban living? It can be quite a transition, even for kids who seem eager for life in suburbia. Here’s what to know and, more importantly, what to do before and after:
#1: Be honest—but don’t talk too far ahead
While it’s essential to be honest with kids about upcoming moves, don’t share too much too far in advance. Telling a preschooler that you’re going to move into a house, for example, and they’ll likely think they’re moving now. If you’re only just considering heading to suburbia and haven’t even started your town or house hunt, it may be a little too early to give them the full scoop. Once you start actively searching, start the conversation. Because you’ll be out and about in the ‘burbs most weekends, you’ll be able to help them understand what’s really going on. That clarity will help them put the pieces together and start to get excited about what’s next.
For older kids, it’s equally important to be transparent—but, again, be sure you aren’t giving too much information too soon. If you’re considering a move, wait until you have more concrete information, as older kids may worry or get anxious about leaving their homes, their school and their friends. Because plans often change, taking a minute to figure out plans—even directionally—can alleviate some of the stress and help you have more honest, complete conversations with kids.
#2: Involve them in the process
Once you’ve settled on a town or, even, have an accepted offer on a house, take steps to make it feel like home. Spend weekends in town, grab brunch locally, then hit playgrounds, parks and other family-friendly hotspots so your brood can start learning the lay of the land. Identifying “your” playground and “your” ice cream shop is the first step in setting down true, lasting roots. By the time you move in a few weeks or months, your kids will be well adjusted to the community and already have a laundry list of “faves” they’ll be eager to add to.
#3: Find familiar activities
Kids enrolled in music classes? T-ball? Swimming lessons? Don’t miss a beat post-move. Get kids signs up for activities beforeyou pack up and leave the city. By integrating them in fun, familiar activities from day one, they’ll feel more confident and comfortable—always a good thing.
If your new town isn’t too far away, you may even consider starting these teams, classes and programs before you move. This will your kids have a few friends to lean on post-move, making the transition that much easier.
#4: Focus on what’s THEIRS
Parents often focus on all the perks of their suburban move (the big backyard, for starters!), but forget that kids are creatures of habit. While they can seem—and even get—very excited about the new and novel, they’ll likely also be itching for some normalcy. And, for kids, that’s often things that they identify as theirs—as in, their toys, their room and their play spaces.
To help ease the transition especially in the beginning, be sure you focus on your child’s room and play spaces in the new house. Let them select some new toys, books or games that go straight to suburbia—this will give them something to look forward to. Then, on the day of the move, be sure you get your children’s rooms set up ASAP—even before the living room and your bedroom. When they walk into a familiar-feeling space, they’ll instantly feel calmer and more at home. Layer in those special new toys and games and they’ll be eager to plunk down and settle in.
Transitioning from the city to the suburbs can be tough, especially if you have preschool- or school-aged kids. Focus on easing their nerves and the transition itself by bringing some fun and normalcy to the move. Done right, your kids will be eager for what’s next: a great life in suburbia!
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