Helping Your Kid Feel at Home in a New City

Helping Your Kid Feel at Home in a New City

Moving to a new city is exciting, thrilling, expensive, and nerve-wracking—especially for your kids. The idea of learning the ins and outs of a new city, going to a new school, and making new friends is often terrifying, because whether you have a kindergartener or a teenager, change is always a little scary. Making the transition smoother isn’t necessarily easy, but only because it requires a lot of help and love from mom and dad; the resulting happy, harmonious family, however, makes it all worthwhile.

Turn It into an Adventure

The best way to help your child feel at home happens even before you move to a new city. You have to turn it into a family adventure. Depending on the age of your child, you’ll have to try different things. For younger children between the ages of 5-10, there are many fun activities you can introduce. At that age, packing up their rooms or toys themselves, and deciding what to leave or give away, are all rather exciting.

Older children may need a little coaxing because those tween years are difficult. They’ll have a different set of fears than younger kids might. You can still turn the move into an adventure, but tailor it to your older child’s personality. Don’t patronize, be as honest as possible, and take time to talk while you’re going on this journey.

Take the Kids for a Visit

Introducing you child to his or her new environment is an excellent idea, so take your kid to visit the new hometown. Show him or her the sights, visit any local museums or points of interest, and highlight how many fun things to do. Again, depending on your child’s age, this will differ. Your tween daughter may love dance classes; show her the studio in town. Your little guy may love dinosaurs, so take him to a museum. If there are beaches, ski slopes, or community centers anywhere around, let your child know what’s on offer.

Visiting a new school is another matter. You want to do this twice. First, let your child visit the new school when the other kids have gone home. He or she can meet new teachers, the principal, the librarian, and other staff members. Next, go for a visit when school is in session, even if it’s at lunch, recess, or toward the end of the day. That gives your child an opportunity to see what school is really like, and maybe even meet some future classmates.

Choose Your Home Wisely

Although issues such as budget, location restrictions, and size will all play a part in the house you buy, you should still involve your child. At the very least, think about his or her needs before making your decision. For example, if you have a very active child who loves to play outdoors, there are lots of lovely houses in Mission Viejo, CA that have enormous backyards with plenty of room to play.

If privacy is an issue and you have more than one child, do your best to make sure everyone has separate bedrooms, or at least give your moody, privacy-mad teen his or her own room. Think about location if your child is on a sports team, plays in the school band, or enjoys riding bikes. Just include your kid’s likes and dislikes in your house hunt.

Look for Fun Activities

If your child has a way to make new friends while doing something he or she enjoys, the transition will become much easier. Look for 4-H or Scout clubs, local sporting teams, those dance classes, and other activities that don’t include school. Make sure there’s a library nearby for the bookworm in the family, and a pool, lake, or beach for the swimmer. These distractions will make your child feel at home sooner.

Moving is fun but it’s hard for the whole family, and it’s especially difficult for the younger set. Is your child excited about moving to a new city, or already feeling homesick?

L. Robinson is a full-time writer and a frequent mover. Having made three big moves by age 18, she knows the good, the bad, and the ugly of relocating as a kid. She also knows how much fun it was in retrospect.

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