Write in a journal
You may have a lot of thoughts rolling around in your head about the move, and getting them down on paper can really help you sort through them. The Moving Book, A Kids Survival Guide, by Gabriel Davis ($20.95, First Books) gives suggestions to help get you writing, such as “Things I’m Worried About” and “Things I’m Excited About.” Once down on paper, you can expand on them and even research ways to solve problems, such as “I’m worried I won’t have any friends.” Write about your emotions and how you feel about moving.
Do some research
Concern and doubt may turn into excitement as you find out about your new town and neighborhood. If you’re allowed to use the Internet, find out what there is to see and do.
Most cities or their chambers of commerce have Web sites with links to activities, services and places to eat. Schools and park departments also often have Web sites, so you can check out what your new school and nearby recreation areas will look like.
Guidebooks to certain cities are available just for kids. There’s a “Kidding Around” series of city guidebooks, as well as a Kid’s Guide series.
Ask your parents to subscribe to a newspaper from your new city or town. If you visit the town, check the “free” racks at local bookstores or grocery stores to see if there are any publications for kids.
Make or print a map of your new neighborhood by visiting www.mapquest.com or www.mapblast.com. Use stickers or drawings to mark certain things, such as schools, ponds, playgrounds and stores. The map can be useful in becoming familiar with the area before you move, and in finding your way around when you get there.
If you’re moving to a new climate, find out more about it. Will you be able to do some activities you weren’t able to do before? Are there different plants and wildlife? If you’re moving up North, you may want to work on your ice skating at one of Dallas’ indoor rinks. Or find out about the best places near your new home to go sledding. If you’re moving to the Pacific coast, become an expert on whales and sea otters.
If you like to listen to the radio, search online ahead of time for the local radio stations and have a listen. (You may have a favorite before you arrive!) Radio Disney is on the air in more than 50 cities nationwide. To find out which cities, go to www.radiodisney.com.
Get a pen pal
Start exchanging letters with someone from your new school or neighborhood. If you’re a member of a large organization such as Scouts or a religious denomination, ask an adult leader for the address of a local affiliate in your new town.
Write to them and tell them about yourself, including your name, grade and new address as well as your current one. They might be able to hook you up with a troop or youth group that can then find a pen pal for you. Or, as Ms. Davis suggests, write to the principal of your new school and ask if he or she could match you with a “buddy” who can help you get to know the school.
Plan your new room
Ask your parents for the dimensions of your new room. If you get to visit beforehand, snap a photograph of it. Make sketches of the location of windows, closets and doors. Think about how you’ll arrange the furniture you’re bringing. Find out if you have a say in colors and theme. Check out catalogs and online stores for ideas. There are also magazines devoted to ideas for decorating kids’ rooms. And don’t forget to work within a budget!
Tell your friends
But not too early, recommends author Ellen Carlisle in Smooth Moves, The Relocation Guide for Families on the Move, ($12.95, Teacup Press, 1999).
“Kids tend to pull back when they hear their friend is leaving,” she writes.
Closer to the time of the move, give your friends pre-stamped postcards or envelopes addressed to you so they can write. Or you can send them change-of-address cards when you get to your destination. Allied Van Lines’ Web site at www.alliedvan.com includes create-your-own change-of-address e-cards that you can customize with rock, jazz or classical music; The Moving Book includes eight punch-out “We’ve Moved” cards.
See how other kids handled a move
Here are a few reading suggestions.
For young children:
The Leaving Morning by Angela Johnson ($14.95, Orchard Books, 1992)
I’m Not Moving, Mama by Nancy Carlstrom, ($6.99, Aladdin, 1999)
Let’s Move Together by Carol Schubeck ($15.95, SuitCase Press, 2000)
Who Will Be My Friends? by Syd Hoff, ($3.99, HarperTrophy, 1985)
The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain ($3.25, Random House Books, 1981)
Leroy the Labrador: The Big Move by Allyson Roberts ($16.95, Maximum Potential, 2005)
For older elementary:
Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon by Paula Danziger ($3.99, Scholastic Paperbacks, 1995)
Anastasia Again! by Lois Lowry ($4.99, Yearling, 1982)
My Fabulous New Life by Sheila Greenwald ($3.95, Browndeer Press, 1993)
The Kid in the Red Jacket by Barbara Park ($3.99, Random House Books, 1988)
The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary ($5.99, HarperTrophy, 1996)
Create a scrapbook
Take pictures of your house, your neighborhood, your school, your town, your favorite places and your friends. Buy or make a scrapbook, and write next to the photos the things you want to remember.
If you can, take photos of the town and home where you are moving, and later on, photos of your family in the un-packing-and-moving-in mode and finally, the all-moved-in look. The book will bring you comfort when you’re missing your old friends and home, and you’ll see the before-and-after of your new home.
The book We Are Moving, by Rachel Biale ($7.95, Tricycle Press, 1996), is really a scrapbook in disguise, with places for photos and writing. The Moving Book also has scrapbook pages.
Make a list of everyone you’d like to say goodbye to, then try to visit each person before you go. Make sure to get their addresses and phone numbers. Take an autograph book and have them sign it. Ms. Davis suggests making mementos of yourself to give to special friends and family, such as a poem, a photo of yourself in a homemade frame, a mini scrapbook or a braided friendship bracelet.
Invite your friends to a combined “Going Away Party/Yard Sale” and let your friends have first pick at buying the things you’re not taking. Serve lemonade and have friends autograph an old T-shirt.
Or wrap up your old treasures and have a “White Elephant” gift exchange, where one person picks a wrapped gift, and the next person either picks a wrapped gift or “steals” the gift person No. 1 just got, and so on, until all the gifts are gone. You can make up your own rules – you may want to set a limit on how many times a gift can be “stolen.”
Have your friends speak into a cassette tape recorder. Do pretend interviews with them. A tape like this is fun to listen to once you’ve moved.
Practice memorizing your new address by writing it on the outside of each packing box. For packing tips, check out Pages 44-46 in The Moving Book or www.alliedvan.com. Both suggest you take along a small suitcase or backpack for your most prized possessions to keep with you during the move so they won’t get lost.
Once you’ve arrived
If you’ve done some of the suggestions listed above, you may feel right at home. But even with the best planning, everyone can get lonely after a move. Here are some tips for getting through the blues:
Visit places you researched.
Try to get involved in activities similar to the ones you were in before.
Keep writing in your journal. What do you think of your new surroundings?
Keep in touch with your old friends by phone and mail. Send them photographs of your new home and school, or narrate a video. Send them postcards of your new city.
Ms. Davis suggests planning a long-distance popcorn-and-movie night with old friends. Pick a night when you and your friends will watch the same movie. It will be good knowing your friends are doing the exact same thing at the exact same time you are. Later you can talk about the movie on the phone or by e-mail.
Making new friends
This can be hard in the summer when some neighborhood kids might be on vacation. You may notice bikes and toys in the yards of nearby houses but never see the kids. Don’t worry, be patient. You will make new friends. Signing up for classes or activities is a great way; going to a place of worship or playing regularly at a nearby park are other ways. If you already had a pen pal, maybe he or she can introduce you to other kids in the neighborhood.
Allied Van Lines has a great suggestion for meeting new kids by attracting them to your yard with creations made out of empty moving boxes, like a clubhouse, a “Wild West” jail and a lemonade stand. See www.alliedvan.com for instructions.