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We're Moving? Tips on the Transition

Whew! We’re now coming through another heavy leasing season for those of us in the multifamily industry, anyway. We’ve grabbed and garnered leases left and right. We’ve been able to hold onto a lot of current residents. We’ve gotten leasing bonuses and everyone is finishing up vacation time, even though we are secretly trying to harbor a couple of days to use at Thanksgiving for Black Friday or the holidays.

 

For me, I have noticed that the hardest “sells” have been those families with school age children. Honestly, it brought me back to the time when my husband was rapidly moving up the corporate ladder, which necessitated many different moves all across the country. I remembered that apparently my husband’s preferred method of informing his family that we were moving was to take us to a restaurant and make the announcement. It seemed his favorite restaurant to do this in was Pizza Hut. Probably because the kids loved the pizza there (and he did, too.) However, after the fourth time it happened, it kind of ruined the idea of going to Pizza Hut for me and the kids.

 

It has occurred to me that the actual moving experience does not have to be horrendous. It’s the fact that, if you are not the decision-maker, it can be very stressful. After all, if you’re the child, you really get very little input in the decision. Most of the time, your parents make the announcement and start discussing all kinds of details and tell you that “you’ll love it there in the new place! And – GUSH – you’ll get your own room!” OR, they tell you that “you and your brother will love SHARING a room!” Yeah. Right.

 

When you aren’t involved in the process it lowers one’s excitement level and creates fear. I believe parents need to help their children through the process of moving, which is easier and completely different from helping your children adjust to the new surroundings afterward. Here are a few tips to get your children through this emotional experience.

 

  1. Don’t make the decision and then arbitrarily announce it to your children no matter what their ages. The younger a child is, the easier it is; however, you need to reassure the younger children where they will sleep (in the same bed), that his parent(s) will be there to take care of him, and then give lots of reassurance during the packing process. Let them help pack their things.
  2. Explain why you are making the move. Of course, change is difficult and I know a lot of families will not ask their high school age children to relocate, but splitting up the family is not easy to do, or necessarily the best thing. Be honest.
  3. Take your children with you when shopping for a new home. This is absolutely crucial to the adjustment especially when you are moving to an apartment community. Your children must be able to see where they will be going, and the younger the child is, the more important it will be to incorporate this information in stories at bedtime and in daily conversations. “Remember, you will be in the room right next to mine?” And, “Yes, the apartment will have a pool! I can’t wait to go swimming. What about you?”
  4. Introduce your children to everyone in the Leasing Office and the Maintenance Team. For school age children, introducing them to the team will help them should they experience being locked out or some other emergency. That will lessen their fear of approaching onsite team members for help. Build the trust and the relationship.
  5. Walk the community with your children. If there is a playground, soon you will get acquainted with other families with children. *Just because an apartment community may not have a playground, don’t discount them as not being “kid-friendly” and just because one does have a playground does not mean they are. Ask the Leasing Professionals if they offer activities for the community’s children.
  6. Show children where the school bus stops are in the community.
  7. Take them to the school prior to the move to show them where they will be going to school. Schools nowadays will not allow you to enroll your child without proof of address, so you will need your signed lease agreement. Some schools also restrict your ability to tour, or even enter the building without being buzzed inside.
  8. If the community allows painting, ask if the turn crew will paint your child’s room another color. Provide the paint if necessary. Help your child decorate his new room. If your children will be sharing a room, make sure there is a space for each to call his own. (Neutral corners exist for a reason.)
  9. Remind children that others live beside you and them. Teaching our children to be “good neighbors” is important. In fact, I encourage showing your children who are reading this part of the lease so they can “buy in” their responsibilities, too, in being a thoughtful resident.
  10. Lead by example. If you are having problems adjusting, it will be obvious to your children. Attitude is key. Smile at others and introduce yourself to the person next door. Usually one of the biggest complaints I hear is that you may not even meet your neighbors because of the “ships passing in the night syndrome.” If that is true, drop a hint to the Leasing Office that it might be nice to host a Meet and Greet. Personally, I love having an official Welcome Wagon in a community comprised of a couple of neighbors who come and welcome those who want to meet others. (Not everyone does, of course, so we must be respectful of that, too.)

 

Children must be shown that moving can be a wonderful experience in a supportive and respectful way. Easing into the idea of change can be a more manageable way of helping your children adjust: first to the idea, then to the event. It has been my experience, especially lately, when families have been relocating due to downsizing, job changes, foreclosures, and educational opportunities, the most successful outcomes occur when there is honest communication with the children in what to expect before, during and after a move.

 

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