Like lawyers or opossums, teens aren’t known for being easy to handle. If you’ve got one, chances are you’ve already resigned yourself to this. In fact, you’re probably holding up pretty well after years of rising back-sass levels. But if you’ve ever wondered how you can make a move easier for your teen (and thus ultimately, yourself), than this post if for you.
There’s a ton of reasons you may need a move during your child’s teen years, and, despite their insistence, none of them are just to ruin your kid’s life. Full disclosure: I moved a ton as a kid. I’m a military brat, and the youngest of four. Moving was just a part of life for us, so I was never terribly upset when it was time to pack up. But not everyone grew up crossing cities off a map. This is a huge step for you, and it’s a huge step for them. Slack is needed in both direction. Whether they like it or not, you’ve got to move and they’re coming with you.
Disclaimer: Since we do local moves, this list really pertains to moves like that–only an hour or less away. If you’re moving farther, you can still use this list as inspiration but may not be able to try everything.
Probably the number one reason why a teen won’t want to move is because of their connection with their friends. That is a real statistic that I just made up right now, but it’s at least 80% probably true. Don’t scoff at teen friendship–the temptation to act like friendship is nothing is certainly there but remember that your teen’s life is mostly school at this point. Friends are all they have. You were at that point at their age–close friends you thought you’d never leave or forget. Remember them? Good. Now remember: that’s how your teen will think of their friends from high school down the line. You may be physically moving, but you don’t want to completely sever that tie. Here are some good options for keeping friendships alive.
While you’re getting everything set to move, it’s in your best interest to let your teen hang out when their friends whenever possible. This gets your teen out of your hair and makes them so much happier. Just drop them off at the mall, see if they can have more sleepovers, treat them to the movies. Let their friends’ parents know what’s up and hopefully they’ll be willing to help you out. As for funding this excursions, you can find as many cheap or free options as you can–just hanging out playing games or watching netflix is awesome with friends–but hey, moving never was all that cheap. Budget movie trips and popcorn in with your moving costs.
Let’s face it: goodbye parties, while sweet, are also super,super sad. I may be biased because I once threw myself a goodbye party and only 2 people came. Not even my roommates came. They were home; they just stayed in their rooms. Regardless, it’s a somber occasion and it kind of makes you miss people more. I still think you should allow your teen to have a goodbye party to say goodbye to the old place and their old memories. But I propose you don’t stop there. Invite your kid’s old friends to come to the new place once you’re all situated so they can have a move in party as well. It’ll remind them that they didn’t lose everything when they moved homes.
Take a ton of photos. Not just digital–print some out. Frame them. Decorate the frames. Give some to your teen and one of their best friends. It’s a physical memento and it can mean the world to your kid and their friends.
See if they can visit for some school events! This can really help a teen feel a strong connection to their old school and their old friends. If possible, and if your teen is into this kind of thing, try to go back to a couple of events at the old school. Sports games are an obvious one for this, but sometimes there are really school specific events like Battle of the Bands or spirit week type events that you may want to look into. I know one of the high schools I went to had a strange legacy of air band events, and another had a Mr. and Miss High School, which was an odd sort of humorous pageant event.
A big one to look out for: ask the school if your teen can still attend dance events like homecoming or prom. Maybe a friend can bring them as a plus one. In any case, it can make a move a lot less scary knowing that you can still go back on occasion.
Chances are your teen isn’t so excited to help move. I usually was, but I was a weird kid. I loved helping pack, and talking to the movers. I especially loved unpacking–I called it a Christmas for things you already owned. Look, I didn’t have a lot of friends. Keeping your teen a little in the process can help them feel like they have a little more control in their lives. Here are some ways you can get your teen involved without it feeling like a punishment for them.
Give your kid a say in the discard process. Let them cull their closet and toss whatever doesn’t fit or suit them anymore. It can be harder for parents to let go than it can be for teens, but you can’t expect them to keep the same things forever no matter how cost-effective that would be.
Set up a yard sale for the items you no longer need. If they go through their things and find items worth trying to sell, let them run a section in order to earn some more pocket cash. If you’re feeling particularly generous, you might you give them the whole pot–or just toss it in the movie and popcorn fund!
When it comes to your teen’s new room, let your teen be the boss. It’s hard to give up control when you’re trying to organize and design everything, but having your teen personalize their space by painting or arranging furniture and picture frames will help them feel more at home. This can mean extra work for you (unless you want to invite your teen’s friends over again–I bet they take pizza as payment!) but in the long run it’ll be worth it.
Keeping a teen happy isn’t the easiest job in the world–sometimes it’s pretty much impossible. But believe it or not, you were a teen once too. Your kid is not some other species, they’re pretty much half you. Don’t forget that as hard as balancing work, life, and moving is, it’s important to remember how it’s affecting people around you too. Maybe when you make it easier for your kids, they can start cutting you slack as well. And remember, you’re still young at heart too, so don’t forget to take yourself out to the movies or the mall with your kid once in awhile too!