Moving to a New Neighborhood: 8 Ways to Get Kids Settled
Moving to a new neighborhood can be tough on kids. Try one or more of these practices to help get your children settled in their new home.
You're relocating from the only home your kids have known. While your whole family may be excited about moving to a new house in a new neighborhood, there will undoubtedly be some bumps along the way.
Here are eight tips to make the move and subsequent transition easier on your kids:
- Explore Before You Move
Give your kids ample time to adjust to a new neighborhood by bringing them to the space before you move. Go to your new neighbors' homes and introduce yourself or check out a local playground. "You can decrease kids' anxiety about moving by exposing them to the new area," psychologist Dr. Lori Rockmore suggests. "They will find that kids everywhere are very similar."
Dr. Rockmore even took her own kids trick-or-treating in their new neighborhood before they'd moved in. See if you can find children a same-age "buddy" nearby to help ease the transition.
- Go Outside
Take walks in your new neighborhood or go on bike rides with your children. Kristen Lichtenthal, a realtor associate with Coldwell Banker, advises parents to start doing this as soon as possible so kids can become familiar with the neighborhood. They'll be able to learn where their school is and may even meet some other kids who live nearby.
- Get Kids Involved
Kids can participate in local activities that will make them feel a part of the community and provide them with an opportunity to meet other children. Try Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or a class at an art or gymnastics school in town. If you have a little athlete on your hands, sign them up for the local T-ball or soccer league. Lichtenthal suggests making a request that your child be placed on a team with kids from the school they will attend. Many youth sports programs can honor such a request, and it can help kids make local friends in a fun environment.
- Join a Group
Joining a newcomers group can help you and your kids meet people who are "in the same boat," says Jessica Lasota, president of the Newcomers Club of Westfield. Newcomers groups are often comprised of families -- Lasota estimates that more than 90 percent of her group's members are families with children -- and as a result many similar organizations offer activities that are geared toward kids.
Lasota's club, for example, organizes playgroups by age and hosts monthly children's activities like cooking and crafting classes, hayrides and pumpkin picking. To find newcomer and parenting groups in your area, visit the BigTent communities and search by ZIP code for local groups.
When you do meet new people in the neighborhood, ask if they know anyone who has kids the same age as yours, and then reach out to those secondary connections. This could be a good way to expand the social circle beyond immediate neighbors or coworkers.
- Consider the Timing
If it's possible, move during the summer. For school-age children, making friends in a new school will be easier with the fresh start of the academic year, and more kids are available for relaxed "getting-to-know-you" time during the summer. For younger kiddos, take advantage of the nice weather by heading to the playground where you can meet other active parents and their kids.
- Talk It Through
Moving is a transition for the entire family. It's helpful for you to tell your kids that you're nervous, too. They should understand that you're all in this together and that the move is a good thing for your family as a whole. Help kids understand what's good about the move for them -- whether it's living closer to relatives, having a bigger yard to play in or even living closer to the office, which means more family time.
- Host a "Welcome Home Party"
Once you've gotten settled in, host a get-together and invite a few local families. Your kids may feel more comfortable on their own turf, and you'll have an opportunity to get to know some new friends and potential playmates.
Moving to a new home isn't always easy, but with a few creative ideas, you can make the transition easier for the entire family.
Jill Reed Siroty is a freelance writer, college instructor and mom of two boys, living in the New York Metro area. Her blog, Really??!, takes a lighthearted look at family and parenting.
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