If you have moved before with a baby or toddler, you know how much work it can be, especially if you cannot find anyone to pawn her off on for the day. Well, take that stress and anxiety and multiply it by at least two or three, and that is what it is like to move with a teenager. There is no sugar-coating it here; it is probably not going to be a good time. Are there exceptions? Absolutely! If you are simply moving to a bigger house in the same neighborhood where she does not have to leave her friends, school, or extracurricular activities, then you probably will not have a problem, aside from hounding her to finish packing. However, if you are moving across town, or (gulp) the country, you can expect a lot of attitude, whining, and complaining.
Tell Teens Early
The single most important thing you should do is discuss the move with your teenager early. She will likely go through an “I hate you!” phase with doors slamming and the silent treatment. Then, the pathetic, depressed, moping around the house phase will come. After all, the world is ending! Hopefully by the time moving day comes along, she is past both of these phases, has accepted the inevitable, and may even be excited, if you play your cards right. Waiting until the last minute so you don’t have to deal with her complaining is selfish on your part. She needs time to adjust, mentally prepare, and make memories with her friends.
Respect Her Feelings
Do not dismiss her feelings. This is a huge deal for your teenager. Telling her that you do not want to talk about it, or that it’s the “end of discussion” will just make her view the move more negatively; keep an open ear and express empathy.
Get Her Involved
Teenagers will often feel as though you are trying to control their life. Obviously you pretty much are, but if you can make her feel like she is playing an important role in the process, it may help. Maybe when you go to see the house for the first time she can pack her room, or you can ask her opinion when choosing window treatments. Tell her you “need” her help because she has such a good eye for style. Allow her to choose a paint color for her room, and ask if there is anything on your checklist of things to do that she feels comfortable handling. The more she feels as though she is part of the process, the faster she will actually get excited about the move.
Have a Going Away Party
Help her plan a going away party with all of her friends. Maybe if it is in the budget, a new camera would be a great gift right about now. Make sure her friends know they are welcomed to visit during summer vacation, and she should have the opportunity to return home to see everyone, too.
Get Her Excited
If she has something to look forward to, she will be able to associate the move with something positive. This could be a new dance class, popular attractions, or activities that the new school offers, but her current school does not have.
Do Not Be Pushy
When the move is done, do not push too hard for her to make new friends or get involved with school activities. You can encourage her, but she will do these things at her own pace, when she is ready; not when you think she should be ready.