Moving is rarely fun for children who often feel their whole world is being turned upside down. The stress of the move only becomes worse if a divorce precipitated the event. As a parent, you can do several things to make moving into a game for your children. This is a great way to direct positive energy toward the move and give kids more ownership over the process.
1. Assign a supervisor
Kids love being put in charge and their bedrooms are a great place to let them exercise responsibility. Challenge each child to sort their belongings into three categories: move, give away and throw away. Depending on how much stuff they have and how much space you’ll have at your new place, set a target for how much each child should get rid of and award points for meeting those goals. Retain ultimate veto power but otherwise let kids have free reign.
2. Invite artistry
When your belongings get to your new home, moving companies will appreciate knowing where to take boxes. Consider color-coding each box for different rooms of the house. Give each child a specific color of duct tape to seal their boxes or colored stickers to adorn each side. Younger kids can also decorate each of their boxes with crayons or markers to help identify them. This can also serve as a form of art therapy, especially if you ask your kids to draw pictures of what they’re looking forward to in the new home.
3. Develop a reward system
Games are much more fun if the winner gets something. Before you dig into the move, develop a point-based reward system for your kids. Brainstorm some rewards they may enjoy, such as a new video game or a one-time bonus to their allowance. Assign each reward a point value so your kids know how to get each prize. As you formulate and assign tasks to kids, let them know how many points they can earn by completing the chores at hand.
4. Hand over the car keys
Older children may quickly finish with packing their rooms, leaving them with lots of time on their hands and probably some angst as well. Let them feel useful and in control by having them run errands for you. This is a perfect task for teens who have recently gotten their licenses and love to drive. You can send younger teens along to help, too. Potential errands include taking donations to Goodwill, buying more boxes and tape or picking up snacks if your move involves extended traveling time.
5. Employ a sales coordinator
If you have items you’d rather sell than donate, which can raise some helpful cash right after a divorce, put business-savvy kids in charge of coordinating sales. You can either have them plan and advertise a garage sale or list items on sites like Freecycle or Craigslist. Rather than including this in the point total, you could give the child a percentage of the cash raised to provide an extra incentive.
As kids are going through this tumultuous transition, the most important thing is to be there for them. Let them know they’re not to blame for the move and that they’re a valuable part of the family. Giving them tasks that let them get involved helps them feel like an important part of the process and can make a difficult time a little easier to get through.