It’s no secret that moving can be stressful. Add in the lingering distress of a recent divorce or separation and confused or emotionally distraught children, and you may start to feel overwhelmed. Despite these challenges, moving may be just what you and your children need. Finding a new place to live, whether near or far can provide the family with a fresh start. How you go about this move will make all the difference. Here are seven ways to successfully find a new home for you and your children after a divorce.
Neither divorce, nor separation are easy experiences to go through, especially when children are involved. You and your kids may go through a range of emotions as you try to process what this change means for your future. Oftentimes, children wonder if they are the cause of the separation. While that is rarely the reason that couples divorce, it’s important to reassure your children of this truth, particularly as you prepare to make other major decisions like choosing a new home. Being transparent will not eliminate your child’s sadness, anger or pain, but having an understanding of what is going on and why can make the transition a little easier.
While being honest is important, discretion is key. Depending on the age of your children, transparency will look different. No matter their age, though, they don’t need all the gorey details, but you should avoid half truths. Stick to the facts rather than badmouthing the other parent or blaming them for the separation. Anticipate that the kids will be upset and sometimes that anger will be misdirected, but your approach can make all the difference.
While you don’t need to discuss the end of your marriage frequently, be open to conversation with your children about the topic. Not only will this keep the lines of communication open, but such conversations may reveal any concerns that they might have. In turn, you can take these worries into consideration during your house hunt journey. As you do make decisions about moving, try to keep your children involved by taking them along to see the spaces and preparing them for the differences that may result from the move.
Sometimes guilt overwhelms recently divorced parents, and they mistakenly overindulge their children. This can happen even when it comes to picking a new place to live. After completely altering their lives, you may feel like you need to give them the world. However, instead of making promises that may create a financial burden, remember that the most important thing your children need is love. To avoid living beyond your means, make it a goal to establish a budget based on your new financial situation.
Whether you are planning to buy or rent a new home, a budget will come in handy. It’s important to be honest about what you can and cannot afford, especially before you discuss moving with your children. For instance, a pool or sizable backyard may be exciting for the kids, but if these features in a new home fall outside of your price range, it’s best to forego them. Remember that such things may temporarily intrigue your children, but are not worth going into debt over. Afterall, neither a big backyard nor a fancy pool can heal the pain they may experience during the divorce. Rather, set yourself up for success with a realistic budget that allows you to spend quality time with your kiddos, rather than working incessantly to keep up an expensive lifestyle. Your children will remember the time you spent with them more than anything money can buy.
As you create a budget that fits your new lifestyle, you may recognize that it does not allow for all things that your life once included. For instance, you may no longer be able to afford a residential cleaning service, but this change provides an opportunity for the kids to help more around the house. That’s okay; embrace this change and opportunity to help your children grow.
Moving with children after a divorce may involve relocating to a new neighborhood filled with unfamiliar faces, changing schools or simply being further away from your child’s favorite park. It’s true that nothing nor anyone can replace what you and your children are living behind. However, there are ways to make finding your place in a new community easier.
As you begin your house or apartment hunting journey, search for a family-centric neighborhood. While it may be challenging for you and your children to leave behind not only your spouse, but your close friends and neighbors, help your children to see the beauty of the change by finding an area that allows them to broaden their horizons and widen out. It’s tough to say goodbye to some of your favorite places, but buying a home or renting an apartment in a neighborhood that is community-oriented, family-centered and has lots to do can help you and your children feel welcome. Signing your children up for sports teams in the area, taking advantage of local parks and rec activities or simply walking around the new neighborhood can make the transition enjoyable.
A lot of change all at once can be difficult for anyone to deal with. So, if it’s possible to move without forcing the kids to change schools right away or at all, opt to do so. Sometimes school districts will allow students to complete whatever grade they are in before switching schools. If your child’s current school allows such an arrangement, it may be worthwhile to explore this option to give your child time to mentally and emotionally prepare for a new school. If remaining at the same school or in the same school district is not possible, help your children prepare for the change by attending any new student events and taking them to meet their new teachers before their first day.
Once you’ve settled on a new home, do yourself a favor and hire a moving company. We all know the challenges that come along with moving. With children in the mix, you should anticipate obstacles that you’ve never faced before. Despite all the planning, preparation and open conversation, emotions are likely to be high on the day of the move. Hiring a moving company can help make things easier for everyone involved. While the movers take care of loading, you will be able to tend to your emotions and those of your children. Better yet, with careful, advanced planning and the help of a reputable moving company, you may be able to distract yourself and your children from the commotion of moving day with games, food, and upbuilding conversation.
During past moves, your ex-spouse may have been present, but this time things could be different. While you may have less stuff, trying to pack and load everything on your own will likely be challenging. You will appreciate the extra sets of hands.
Before you settle on a moving company, there’s a few things to consider. Take a look at the company’s reviews, get estimates and verify their credentials. Though your financial standing may have changed since the divorce, don’t simply go for the cheapest movers. This may involve using a credit card or taking out a small loan. You want a smooth transition from your current location to your new home. The moving company you choose can play a huge role in the seamlessness of the move.
Nailing down a moving date and movers will help you gauge when to start packing. Your packing experience will be much better if you declutter and downsize first. Think of decluttering as an opportunity to get rid of items that cannot be sold or given away because they are too old, dirty or tattered. Younger children usually like to help their parents, so enlist their assistance in decluttering. Not only will doing so allow you to rid your home of anything you don’t need to take along, your child will enjoy getting to help with a grownup task.
Downsizing is a bit tougher than decluttering. It involves more than simply tidying or discarding. Sometimes downsizing involves getting rid of items we like or love out of necessity. Depending on the size of your new home, it may not be possible to bring all of your belongings. If your finances have taken a hit during the divorce, downsizing may be necessary. Carrying out this task might be difficult for the entire family. To make it more enjoyable and manageable, try going through each child’s possessions separately with them. Downsizing and packing can be emotional, but it also provides an opportunity to go down memory lane as you rediscover objects that have been buried away. So, if you have had a hard time getting your children to open up to you about their feelings regarding the divorce, paring down may encourage them to open up.
After you have thoroughly and efficiently decluttered and downsized, it’s time to start packing! In a tidy environment and with less stuff, your packing experience will be much more manageable. Again, try to make the task enjoyable. Pick a week or certain days to focus on packing and then use those days as opportunities to enjoy your family’s favorite takeout meals. In addition, take breaks and incorporate simple games, like a scavenger hunt for young children.
Once you are all moved in, it’s time to make your new house a home. This is very important, as you want your children to feel comfortable in the new space. Allow your kids to have a say when it comes to decorating their rooms. Add familiar touches to their rooms, like any sentimental items from their other parent. It’s unlikely that you will want to decorate your home with pictures of you and your ex-mate, but it’s important that your children still feel connected to them. As a compromise, you might consider placing pictures of your ex-spouse with the children in their individual bedrooms.
As for the rest of the house, you may choose to ask your children for their input, as well. However, when it comes to shared spaces, such as a living room, den, dining room or finished basement, it’s important to be thoughtful when decorating. If the events leading up to the divorce were traumatic for the children, avoid decorating with items that may remind them of those tough times. It’s better to sell or donate those pieces, and buy new things according to your budget. Sometimes it’s not possible to get rid of certain things. If that’s the case, consider refurbishing the piece. With a little sanding or a fresh coat of paint, you can bring life and happiness into items that were once associated with painful times.
One of the most important things about moving with your children after a divorce is starting fresh at a reasonable pace. Too much change in a short amount of time can be traumatic and overwhelming, but little to no change can be just as damaging. Aim to maintain routines, but adopt new healthy habits. For instance, if you normally eat meals together, continue to do so. If you’ve never eaten meals together, try to start. It may seem like a small thing, but a divorce can leave your children feeling angry, sad and even isolated. It’s important to keep the family unit strong despite the change. Remember, finding a home that your children will love following a divorce is about more than the physical location. The behavior that each family member exhibits plays a huge role in their affinity for their new homebase.
Divorce, housing hunting and moving are some of the most major experiences a person can go through. Thankfully, it’s possible to stay positive throughout the journey and settle into the perfect place that suits you and your child’s new lifestyle.
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