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Moving is often scary and overwhelming for children, but even more so when relocating to the other side of the country. Clear and direct communication can make the transition easier on your kids.

Schedule a Family Meeting
As soon as you’ve signed a contract to buy a house, talk to your kids about the upcoming move. If they don’t know where your new city is located, show them on a map. Tell them as much as possible about your future home, including details about the house and neighborhood, their new school (size, activities, sports teams, etc.), nearby attractions you can visit as a family, and local traditions and events.

Ask your kids what they know about the city or state where you’ll be living. You might be surprised at some of the misconceptions young children have that cause unnecessary worry. For example, if you’re moving from a warm place to an area that has cold winters, your kids might think the ground will be covered with snow year-round and they won’t be able to play outside or participate in sports anymore. Set the record straight so they don’t worry for no reason.

It’s normal and healthy for children to feel a range of emotions when faced with the prospect of a major change. Encourage your kids to express their feelings, both positive and negative. If your kids aren’t on board with moving right away, listen to their concerns and allow them to vent. Talking through their feelings will help them prepare for the move and adjust to their new home.

Choose a Good Time to Move
If you have some flexibility in terms of when to relocate, moving over the summer might make the transition smoother for your kids. If you must move during the school year, compare the calendars at your kids’ old and new schools and look for a time that’ll be minimally disruptive.

Help Your Kids Prepare for the Future and Preserve the Past
Talk to your children about how they want to decorate their new rooms. Choosing a paint color or picking out a new bedspread can make them excited about settling into a new space. Having your kids help you pack and write their names on boxes containing their belongings can make them feel actively involved in the moving process.

Talk to the parents of your children’s friends about the upcoming move and how the kids can keep in touch. Whether it’s through emails, phone calls, social media or old-fashioned letters, your children will be less apprehensive about moving if they know that it doesn’t mean their friendships have to end.

Talk to Your Kids Early and Often
Moving far away is a major change for kids, but not knowing what to expect can make it even more overwhelming. Keep an open line of communication, give your kids as much information as possible, and encourage them to express their feelings and ask questions.