Permanent Change of Station, PCS, is a frequent term in this group. Death, taxes, and PCS, the only things that we know are for certain. So you’ve received your orders and it’s time to make that move again. Previously we discussed the financial side of things but we need to touch on something more dear to our hearts, the KIDS. How do we get them to help with the move? How do we enlist their help and keep them motivated?
The house is full from the last 3 years. Toys they haven’t touched in two months, games they played once, clothes that don’t fit anymore, and it all needs to be cleared out or packed up. The focus here is making sure that what is moved is necessary and that the kids are active participants in the process. So what tips can we give to keep them engaged and motivate them to help with the move?
This would be the first and easiest tactic to get them to either pack or purge. If there is a neighbor or friend with a child just a little younger than yours then you have a perfect person to pass along those clothes and shoes that don’t fit anymore. You can let them sift through what they want and then discard the rest. Ask them who they want to give these items to, what friends or family members they think will appreciate them.
All families have the closet full of toys and games that the kids have grown a little too old for now. Those can be passed along as well. And make sure they know that you’re not insulted if they don’t like what you have to give. Everyone has different tastes but a gift is usually appreciated. When I give our girls items to our niece I make it clear, keep what you like and donate what you don’t. Which leads us to the next option.
Donating items is a great way to introduce the kids to the idea of helping others while also getting them to help with the move. While you’re technically donating items to friends and family, there is an extra level of gratitude that comes with giving to someone in need. Every community’s needs vary so where would you start? First thing you can do is find a local shelter so that you and your kids can see your donations go to a family that needs it. Most areas will have a non profit that will take donations just about any time of the year.
Another place to go to would be your church. Especially around this time of year they’ll be looking for donations for Christmas. Delivering some items that could end up being gifts could make a child’s Christmas much better this year. There will be food drives, blanket and jacket donations, or any other needs that the church may be participating in. The important part here is to let your kids be a part of the donation process. Make a list of possible places that need any unused items and even let them pick where they would like to send their things. Hopefully they’ll get a feeling of ownership in the process and know that they are a part helping others.
At the end of the day there is always that monetary incentive. If there are any other tasks that they can help with they can always be given a little something extra for tasks completed. You may not have to pack up everything yourself but there may be some items that you want to make sure get packed up more securely. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a cash reward. Tell them they can choose where to go for dinner in exchange for helping out. An ice cream run as a reward for getting their room cleaned up and ready for the movers. If they’re anything like my kids, they will respond pretty well and help with the move when you dangle that carrot out in front of them.
Now that we’ve helped them with the physical move, probably the more important aspect is helping them with the mental part of the move. Just like many of us, kids get used to their home, their routine, their comfort zone.
First topic is just letting them know about the move. We all have to deliver news that may or may not be received well at some point in our lives, so the first thing is to be honest with them even if you know that they’re not going to be happy. Kids are people, and most people don’t want to be left in the dark or not be a part of something important. Letting them know right away allows them to process the information and decide on how they will deal with it.
Next step is connecting their old world with the new one. Find what is most important to the kids, whether it be sports, video games, or their circle of friends, and show them how to stay connected once they leave. We have technology on our side these days. If they’re on a team or have a few really close friends then you need to make sure that they stay in touch. Get contact information and make a plan for staying connected. Zoom calls, facebook for kids, or do like your grandparents did and just write letters. They need to know that their world is not going away, that that constant is still there.
Now connect them to their new world. They need something that they can get attached to. If you can motivate or excite them about the move then it will make the transition easier. Research the area to find things that they would like to do. Find out what the popular attractions are and look up the activities or sports that they will get to do. Depending on where you are going you may be able to look up the schools to show where they’ll be going. If you already know other families then connecting them with a new group will help them feel like they already have a community to be a part of.
The most important aspect is as you’re moving make sure that you’re continually staying engaged. Make sure that they stay connected with their friends. Keep those relationships going. A lot will be happening as you move and it’s easy to get lost in all the to do lists. You don’t want the ground work that has been laid to be for nothing. Hopefully the relationships that have been built will last and they’ll have the excitement of the new community that they’re about to join.
This blog post about how to get your kids to help with a move, and how you can help them is sponsored by Aligned Mortgage. Start Your Path To Home Ownership Today!
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