Centre>Getting Ready for the Move
Getting Ready For The Move
Moving can be as challenging as it is exciting. Sometimes more so. Moving is as hard for kids as it is for adults. They, too, are leaving behind familiar places and important friends. They, too, are starting over: seeking new friends and adjusting to a new home, neighborhood, and school. But because they're still learning how to socialize and how to effectively get their needs met, children need caring adults to listen and help them adjust to their new home, now more than ever.
If you're a parent contemplating a move, this article's for you. By considering a move in three stages - before, during, and after - and thinking about your children's needs during each stage, you can make a big difference in how your kids feel about the move and how they adjust afterwards.
BEFORE THE MOVE:
Tell your children about the move as soon as you can. The more time they have to think about and prepare for the move, the easier it will be for them.
Give your children a chance to express their feelings, and try to be honest about your own feelings. Most children will feel some anger, sadness, or worry about the move. These responses are natural, and kids who have a chance to express them will work through their doubts more easily. Gently tell your children about any sadness you may feel about leaving or uncertainty about a new home, job, or city. This will reassure them that they aren't alone in having worries or concerns.
Help older children prepare a list of phone numbers and addresses of close friends, relatives, and other important people in their lives. Knowing they can stay in touch with these people is an important part of a successful move.
If your kids are old enough, let them participate in decision making. Have the kids keep a notebook of potential new homes with the positives and the negatives listed.
If you are able to, before you move take your children to your new home and explore the new neighborhood and town or city together. If this isn't possible, take pictures of your new home, the schools your kids will attend, a nearby park, and anything else that would be interesting to them.
Make a scrapbook containing pictures of your pre-move home, friends, and other mementos of your life together.
Call the principal of your children's schools, and try to set up a meeting with their teachers or, if they're in junior high or high school, guidance counselor. The new school may even be able to give you names of students in your child's class who live near your new home. If so, you may want to drop by to meet them and their families before you move in.
Try to line up some activities in which your child can participate after the move: a sports team, music lessons, art classes, a scouting troop. Not only will activities like these keep your children involved; they'll also help them to feel like part of a group - an important aspect of settling in. Try to sign up for more than one activity in case one falls through or doesn't go well.
If you can, try to meet families in your new neighborhood before you move. Being familiar with people when you move in will help your children feel more at home.
DURING THE MOVE:
Remembering What's Important
Throughout the move, stay as upbeat and calm as you can; a good plan makes this possible. Your own mood will impact other family members, especially babies, who are particularly sensitive to their mother's feelings. With older children, it's important to be honest about some of the uncertainties you have, but also to be generally optimistic about the move and the positive ways it will affect the family.
Involve your kids in the packing. Older kids can put their own belongings in boxes, and kids of all ages will enjoy decorating the boxes containing their things. Doing so will also make finding your children's things easier once you're at the new house!
Try to stick to your routines. Have meals at the same times as always. If your kids nap, encourage them to lie down at the usual time. Keep to the normal bedtimes.
Don't pack things that your children treasure. Take special blankets, beloved stuffed animals, favorite books, and other prized items in a separate bag or box that you can bring with you in the car or on the plane when you go to your new home.
Help your children say good bye to the important people in their lives. For their friends, a pizza or make-your-own sundae party is a fun way to celebrate the friendship. An album or poster with photos of good times together will add to the celebration. If your children are comfortable, encourage hugs at the end of the party. With neighbors or other special adults, you may want to set up a time to stop by and say good bye as a family.
Expect the unexpected: few moves go smoothly, anticipate trouble (predict it!) and have a positive, "can do" attitude.
AFTER THE MOVE:
Don't spend too much time unpacking - at least not right away! Sure, the essentials are important to unload and you want the house to feel settled. But wait on the less important stuff. In the first few days, take time to enjoy your new home with your family. Take walks. Check out local restaurants and take-out spots. Introduce yourselves to your new neighbors. Spend time at the park.
Be on the look-out for neighborhood kids, and help introduce your children to them. If it's comfortable for you and your children, invite some of the neighborhood kids over for pizza or a video.
Let your children have some input in planning on the new house, especially in choosing things to buy for their rooms. Even if you don't follow through on their ideas, it's important to listen to what they think. Be tactful if you choose another option, and let some decisions be entirely up to them - for example, the placement of their bed or the color of the rug or paint in their bedroom.
Get involved: church groups, synagogues, YMCA and activity clubs, etc. enable socializing. If a couple of months have gone by and your child seems unusually troubled, ask a doctor, guidance counselor, or principal if you need a referral. Signs that your child may need help: unusual academic difficulty; ongoing irritability; trouble with peers; changes in sleep or eating habits; a generally despondent mood. Give them time, this behavior can last for 4-5 months for teens.
Above all, listen. Try to be there when your kids get home after the first day at their new schools, even if it means having to leave work early that day. Regularly ask how things are going, and take time to listen. Sometimes kids have a hard time opening up; spending relaxed time together may help them to bring up whatever is on their minds.
For children and adults, it takes time to feel at home. With your understanding and patience, your children will be reassured that, after a while, things will get easier; everything won't feel so new; and that home is, after all, wherever the family is.
For more information on moving with children and moving in general, see the book Smart Moves: Your Guide through the Emotional Maze of Relocation by Nadia Jensen, Audrey McCollum, and Stuart Copans. Smith & Krauss. To order a copy for $16.95, call 1-800-895-4331. The ISBN is 1575250861.
GET THOSE DOGGIES MOVING:
If pets are a part of your family, remember that moving, whether down the block or across the country, is just as stressful for them as it is for you. But this stress can be greatly reduced with good planning and the tips that you'll find here. "Animals can sense and react to stress just like people," says Dr. William Fortney, a veterinarian at Kansas State University. "Anything we can do to make it easier on them can make recovering from the move easier on us." Here are some suggestions from top veterinarians, zoo experts and experienced pet owners on how to minimize the stress of moving with pets. Read the general guidelines, then check out the specific pets that make up your family's menagerie:
Keep some form of identification on the pet at all times and be sure you have current pictures along with a written description available. This will reduce a lot of stress should your pet escape. If the length of the move requires the animal be provided with food and water, be sure the food is bland and easily digested and that the water comes from your home supply. Changing diet or water sources are common causes of diarrhea and vomiting from upset stomachs. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian for food recommendations.
Prior to moving, schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a thorough physical exam, making sure all vaccinations are current, especially the rabies vaccination. While at your veterinarian's office, get copies of your pets' records and check to see if he can recommend another veterinarian at your new location. If your pet is on any medication be sure to have an ample supply so you won't run out before getting settled in your new location. Also discuss with your veterinarian whether your pet should be tranquilized during the move. If so, get enough to try it out prior to the move to be sure the dosage works properly.
Since each state has different laws and regulations regarding the importation of animals and some counties and municipalities have their own ordinances, check with a veterinarian in the new area to be sure your pet complies. It is important to do this several weeks before your move to allow time for all paper work to be completed.
Temperature extremes should be avoided. In most cases, it's best to transport your animal in a sturdy, insulated carrier to help regulate the changing temperature. Never leave a pet in a hot car during the summer time or a cold car in the winter.
If you are transporting the pet by plane, try to book a direct flight to minimize the time the animal may be sitting outside the plane in inclement weather conditions. Some airlines provide counter-to-counter service so your pet will be carried on and off the plane by an airline employee. While this service costs a little more, it may be worth it for your peace of mind.
For these reasons it is particularly important to maintain your cat's normal routine. During the move itself, keep your cat confined to one room with food, water, a litter pan, some favorite toys, and the carrier you plan to use so your cat can get used to it. The door should be locked or have a large, "Do Not Open" sign on it, so the movers won't inadvertently let the "cat out of the bag."
Transport your cat in a well constructed cat carrier large enough to have room for food, water and a small litter box. Upon arrival at your destination, place the cat and carrier in one secure room with at least two doors between the cat and the outside. Open the door of the carrier and let the cat decide when to come out. Allow your cat to become acclimated to the one room before releasing him to the rest of the house. If the cat scurries for cover when you open the door, wait a day or two longer, then try again. Let the cat explore other rooms of the house when it meets you at the door.
If your cat is accustomed to going outdoors, wait several
days after arriving at your new home before letting the cat out, placing
him on a leash or harness for short exploratory trips. After 2 or 3 days
of these trips, you can begin to let your cat out on its own.
If you have a small dog and plan on flying to your new home, he may be able to fly with you in the passenger compartment if he is small enough to fit into a carry-on bag that will fit under the seat. Check with the airlines for details. If you are transporting a larger dog by plane, try to book a direct flight to prevent your pet from having to spend long periods in a distant airport, and have someone scheduled to pick up your dog at the other end.
Never leave any pet in the car for more than a few minutes. This is especially important during warm weather. If you are carrying your dog with you in the car and plan to stop overnight, be sure to call ahead to find a hotel that accepts pets.
If you will be taking your bird in the car, maintain a warm, constant temperature since birds are particularly sensitive to temperature changes. It is possible to carry the bird in its cage as long as you have a cover for it to prevent drafts and keep the bird in a darkened setting to reduce the bird's anxiety. If you have an excitable bird, it may be necessary to cushion the cage or crate with a soft material to reduce self-inflicted trauma.
Place slices of apple, grapes or other fruit in the cage to supplement the bird's water supply and be sure they have adequate places to perch.
For a larger number of fish or for transporting over a greater distance, 5-10 gallon plastic containers can be used. First, fill them with water (either salt or fresh water, depending on the type of fish) and change the water often to remove any toxins that might leach from the plastic. On moving day fill the containers half full with water and place the fish in the water, about 1-2 fish per gallon.
If your trip is going to take more than a couple of days, it's best to invest in some portable aerators to keep the water well oxygenated. Do not keep the containers in the car overnight since the drop in temperature is likely to be too severe.
If you are transporting your snake in your car, be sure not to leave it in the car overnight. Take it into the hotel room (be sure they allow pets), and let it soak for about an hour in the tub. (You will have to take turns.)
The easiest pet to move is a turtle, which can be overnight expressed in a well cushioned, insulated box with air holes.
American Tortoise Rescue (http://www.tortoise.com), a nonprofit organization founded to provide for the rescue of turtles and tortoises, recommends using overnight mail. Be sure to write "Fragile, Live Cargo" and "this side up" on the outside of the box to increase the chances of a softer ride. You can also place leaves or grass inside the container for added cushion and to give the box a more homey environment.
Remember to keep the surroundings of all reptiles moist but not wet. Dampening a cloth and placing it inside the container is the best approach.
Since there are some governmental regulations regarding the shipment of reptiles, consult with A Field guide to Reptiles and the Law by J. P. Levell. (published by Serpent's Tale, to order call (612) 470-5008.)
Be sure to maintain a comfortable, steady temperature even if it means parking your car away from the rest rooms to get it under the shade of a tree. These little critters are comfortable at about the same temperatures people are so if you are cold or hot, they are too.
Mark Lummis. Any reproduction of this site is prohibited.