Moving isn’t easy for kids. It’s a huge transition for them. It entails changing schools, befriending new neighbors, and adjusting to a new culture and environment — at a time when they seriously need some stability to form a secure identity. Relocation can trigger major emotional issues such as anxiety and depression. It’s essential to tread carefully in this big move. How you break the news to the kids should be done with so much caution, empathy, and reassurance. Here are some reminders when you tell them about your plan to move:

Be early

Don’t delay. The earlier you tell your children about the move, the better. You need to give them ample time to process this huge change in their lives. Even though you’re still not a hundred percent sure which property to get from the open houses that you have been attending, talk to them in brief already about the possibility of relocating and the rationale behind it. If you can take them to a viewing or two, do it. This will help them wrap their heads around the reality of moving.

But there are real estate agents who prefer adults-only viewings. Children can be clumsy and bouncy at times that they might break or damage some things in the house. Check with the agent if kids can come. If it’s not allowed, then you can just show pictures of the house and the neighborhood after your trip.

Be specific

parents walking outside with their daughter carried by dad

Once the move is finalized, make time for the formal conversation and get ready to spill the details. Tell your children about the location of the new home and what it is like to live there? Also, tell them about their school. This is, for sure, at the top of their concerns. Describe to them what their school is like. If you can give them pictures of the campus grounds, do so. If you can tour them before the actual moving day, make that happen.

The next thing to tell them is your preparations. How will they pack their stuff? How long they have to get ready? Will there be stuff to leave, donate, or throw away? Will there be professional movers? The principle is that give them the details. The move will be less overwhelming if they know what to expect. Work with reputable cross-country moving companies. You don’t want your kids’ precious, favorite china dolls getting stuck somewhere you don’t know.

Be honest

Kids will often have a hard time receiving the news of a move even if you give them a heads-up months prior. It will be much more difficult for them to accept this if they feel like this big change — leaving friends, saying goodbye to the former home, and going into the unknown — is easy for you. For sure, it’s not. Don’t be afraid to be transparent and vulnerable to your children.

Show your true feelings and struggles. Somehow, they will find reassurance in this — that they’re not alone in their journey. After every crying session, leave them with a positive note. You can weather this big change — any change for that matter — in your life as long as you’re all together.

Relocation isn’t the most fun life event for kids. Remember the emotional issues it can trigger when it’s not handled with care. Break the news of the move gently and with caution.