When times are tough, employers often tweak operations and shuffle assets in an effort to remain profitable, and flexibility becomes an important attribute for any employee who wants to remain essential to business. In the most extreme situations, flexibility can mean relocation.
Considering a move is a big deal for any family, especially for those with children, it’s important to make the transition painless and fun. Here are five tips to assuring that your kids will benefit from your family’s relocation just as much as your employer will.
1. Ensure that quality education won’t be compromised
Quality education isn’t just about stats or rankings. It also requires a safe, harmonious environment, a location conducive to learning, teachers who encourage both success and a positive approach to failure, and a curriculum that is well rounded by arts, activity, music and exploration.
While switching schools is often the most dreaded aspect (both for parents and children) of any move, relocation can actually provide a rare opportunity and result in improved education and prospects for your children. So, carefully researching, visiting, and interviewing faculty at any prospective new school should be an imperative.
2. Reach out to other families
Children will tell you that the worst part about moving is leaving their friends behind. Don’t devalue or dismiss these concerns, because they reflect a very important step in the development of your child’s healthy social- elf. Forming bonds with peers and identifying with a social group are important steps on the way to a well-adjusted adulthood.
So, if you have a fairly young, elementary-aged child, ask your company to put you in touch with other employees from your new town who are parents of similarly aged children. Before your family moves, encourage your child(ren) to develop pen-pal based friendships with a few children in their new town. This will help alleviate feelings of loneliness and alienation your child might otherwise suffer.
3. Carefully shop neighborhoods
Keeping your children in mind when you shop neighborhoods is essential. How close will you be to parks, forests, lakes, streams and other areas kids can freely explore? Are there plentiful sidewalks? How close is the school? Is there a backyard with trees and grass? Do other children live nearby? Are there problems present, such as vicious dogs, active train tracks, factories, highways, or untrustworthy neighbors?
Considering your future home from the perspective of your child is an important step in any family relocation.
4. Sign up for sports
Transfer your child’s current activities in advance of your move. Do they take an art class at the community college each summer? Sign them up for something equivalent in your new town. The same applies for sports, private and group lessons like piano, guitar, or dance, and hobbies such as reading, collecting insects or riding horses.
If they have something they love to do, get them excited about doing it in your new town. Involve them in investigating their new possibilities, and let them participate in choosing where they’ll sign up or what they want to explore most when they arrive. Kids who are stimulated and active are happier and less anxious, as well as immune from the ennui of boredom.
5. Plan ways to stay connected
Children tend to think that goodbye is forever, unless you help them see that leaving is a natural part of life. Instead of breaking them apart from their friendships, favorite places and memories, allow time to naturally soften the blow. In the interim, devise ways to nurture their feelings about the past.
If they have a summer camp they love to attend, let them continue going to it after you move, even if it requires a longer trip. Encourage regular communication via Internet, phone, and snail mail with close friends from your old home. Plan an annual trip back that involves visiting favorite spots with friends. These steps will encourage your child to develop a confident attitude toward change, and that’s a priceless lesson.
When all is said and done
No matter how hard you try or what steps you take, change is hard for children. Heck, it’s even hard for adults. Ensuring that your relocation is in your best interest is the only way to guarantee that it will benefit your entire family. So think ahead, carefully plan, and work with your employer to candidly discuss all aspects of your move, and your children will do just fine.