Preparing to move can be confusing and stressful for kid, in part because they have generally little or no involvement in the process. Depending on their age and level of awareness, they may be determined not to move, feel attached to your current home, or not fully understand that they’ll be changing certain aspects of their routine. Keep your kids involved about your intention and informed about the homebuying process to help them get excited about relocating and keep their anxiety at bay.
1. Discuss the Upcoming Move with Your Kids.
Tell your kids where you plan to move, when, and why. Explain that shopping for a new home is a big decision, and tell them what home features you’re looking for. Ask them what home features are most important to them. Start looking for houses online and focus on critical factors like the number of bedrooms, layout, location, and price – but also keep an eye out for the things your kids want too. You may not be able to meet their wish list exactly, but knowing what they want makes it easier for you to sell them on your final decision.
2. Narrow the List of Homes
If you’re moving locally, bring your kids along for a few open house visits once you’ve narrowed the field to the top contenders. Explain what an Open House is and your expectations ahead of time. (Ask your Realtor® if the home is occupied and if kids are allowed to come along.) If you will be moving long-distance and cannot easily tour homes with your kids in tow, video chat them while you take walk-throughs to keep them involved in the process.
Share your “pro and con” list with your kids after each showing you attend together and elicit their opinions as well. Keep an open mind and make sure they feel heard, but be patient if they become emotional or disinterested as well.
3. Create a Home-Viewing Strategy
You know your kids. If they have limited attention spans or become difficult when they’re bored or frustrated, don’t try to fit too many showings in without giving them a break. Make your visits fit around naptime. Bring snacks, toys, games, and books to keep them occupied on the drive and when you’re talking to your Realtor.
Prepare your children for the etiquette required of them as guests in an open house. Always keep an eye on them and be certain they aren’t climbing on anything or touching anything they shouldn’t. If this is burdensome, keep your kids at home with a spouse or babysitter while you take in-person tours, and schedule virtual tours on which you can include them.
Leave time to explore the surrounding area. Drive past the schools your kids will attend, the parks they’ll play in, the library, the movie theater, and local restaurants, so they can begin to envision this new area as their future home. Many times the anxiety of moving comes from not knowing that the new home, like the old one, is also close by to all of these favored attractions.
4. Know How Much (and How Little) to Involve Your Kids
It’s a good idea to include children in the search for a new home, but parents have to make decisions based on factors such as home prices, property taxes, school quality and distance to work. Make sure your kids understand that while you value their input, you will make the final decision. Do your best to honor reasonable requests and lower expectations on unreasonable ones.
5. Tell Them What Won’t Change
Like all of us, kids have difficulty imagining experiences they’ve never had before. Moving is a big task and they may think their entire world is changing. Make sure you communicate all the things that truly won’t change. This could be things like the fact that you’ll still be together as a family unit, that your pets will be coming with you, that they’ll still get to see relatives and friends, that they’ll only be a quick car ride away from soccer practice, that they’ll be bringing everything they own to their new room. Whatever the case, reassuring your kids helps them to understand what is and isn’t changing, and what they can expect.
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