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Moving with Kids and Pets

For Your Children

Moving can be especially unnerving for children. Younger kids often become confused when their daily routine is disrupted, while adolescents fear the loss of friends and dread making new ones. But there are steps you can take to help alleviate their fears, and get them involved in the move.

Communication Is Key. First, it's important for parents to explain the moving process by providing children with as much information as possible and allowing them to participate in decision-making discussions. This will help relieve anxiety.

Talk about the positive aspects of their new home, school and neighborhood. Try to communicate the idea that the new home can be even better than the old one. Encourage questions and invite children to talk about their worries.

Manage Your Stress. Children are attuned to parental stress-levels, so try to manage your stress as much as possible. Having a plan, creating a moving checklist, staying organized and packing wisely are all ways to minimize your moving-day stress.

Rehearse Ahead of Time. For younger children, the move should be an exciting adventure. Act out moving day ahead of time by letting your children pack their things, and tell moving stories to build anticipation.

If possible, take children with you to look at potential neighborhoods, homes and schools. This can ease the transition. If your children are really young, consider hiring a baby-sitter while you pack. Otherwise, let your kids participate in the move, so they can understand what's going on. Even so, don't be dismayed if your child exhibits regressive behavior. It's normal.

Make It Fun. For older children, a move that involves leaving friends and favorite hangouts can be extremely difficult. Help them say good-bye to friends by hosting a good-bye party. Emphasize how easy it is to keep in touch through e-mail, IMs and phone. If at all possible, time the move to coincide with the start of a new school year or term.

Get Back to the Status Quo. Once you are settled in your new home, resume familiar routines as soon as possible. Be sure family traditions – like pizza night – aren't forgotten in your new home.

It's Okay to Cry. Don't take it personally if your children blame you for the difficulty of a move. No matter the preparation, allow children some time to grieve.

For Your Pets

Whether you're moving across the country or just to the other side of town, you'll want to ensure that your pets make a comfortable and safe transition.

Pre-Move Considerations. Make a point to maintain your pet's regular routine right up until the moment you leave. If they're accustomed to a morning walk, make sure you take it. Pack your pet's regular food; special snacks and treats could lead to messes.

During the Move. Make sure you have copies of your pet's current medical records. Bring a recent photo of your pet in case it gets lost. Buy a transport carrier, and get new ID tags that have your new address on them. If you're staying in a hotel, make sure it's pet-friendly in advance.

If You Drive. Cats should always be kept in a carrier during auto travel. Don't forget to put a litter box in the car on long trips. Consider using a restraining harness for dogs. Make frequent stops so your pet can exercise and relieve itself. As always, never leave your pet unattended in a parked car or in the cargo hold of a moving van.

If You Fly. Visit your veterinarian 30 days prior to your flight. Most airlines require an up-to-date health certificate. Different countries and states may also have their own requirements, so make sure to check in with the proper authorities before your trip. Try to book a direct flight and check the airline's rules and regulations for transport of pets.

If your pet panics when traveling, your vet can talk to you about behavior modification or medication that can help.

Animal Transport Services. If all else fails, you may want to consider an animal transport service. The expense may be worth the peace of mind.

For more moving tips, including moving large appliances and vehicles, visit the Make Your Move section.

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