My family and I recently relocated from Minnesota to Michigan. This wasn’t our first big move with kids. Two of our three daughters were born in New York, and we uprooted them when they were three and seven to move to Minnesota for work. We have lived through many goodbyes and understand the importance of helping our children maintain friendships after a move.
I remember the goodbye video we made in our Brooklyn apartment, which somehow looked gigantic with all of our belongings boxed and loaded on the moving truck. I remember how our daughters walked from room to room, videotaping their goodbyes. “Goodbye favorite bedroom, goodbye toy closet, goodbye mommy and daddy’s room.”
We walked through the vast open space, recalling the many memories created, the many firsts, the robust conversations, the laughs, the cries, and all the friendships that blossomed within that apartment.
The Importance of Friendships
Moving to a new place can be an exciting adventure filled with new opportunities and experiences. However, it can also be challenging and emotional, especially when leaving cherished friendships behind.
As parents, we understand the importance of friendships. We know friendships play a pivotal role in our children’s social and emotional development at a young age. The relationships they make today provide a foundation for learning essential life skills such as empathy, communication, and conflict resolution, and they lay the groundwork for future relationships. That’s why it’s essential that we help them maintain friendships after a move.
Tips to Help Your Child Stay Connected
There are effective ways to support your child in staying connected even after a big move. Here are a few tips to help your child’s friendships thrive and remain strong and resilient, no matter the distance.
Children have many tools at their fingertips in today’s digital world: Facetime, messaging apps, social media, email, and video calls. Encourage your child to embrace this. With a parent’s guidance, friends can have virtual playdates, watch a movie, read together, or play a game.
Get creative and focus on connection to help your child maintain friendships after a move. My daughter loves to play Photo Roulette with her long-distance friends. The app randomly selects photos from the players’ selected album. My daughter loves to choose pictures of herself and her friends, and the images are then briefly shown to all the players. The players compete in quickly guessing whose photo is shown. The fastest player with the correct answer gets the points. It’s a fun way to reminisce, connect, and share laughs.
Empathize and Encourage New Connections
Before we moved, I made an album for each of my daughters in Canva. It captured the memories of our home and the friendships made while we lived there. I asked all their friends, teachers, and coaches to draw a picture or write a personal note, which I then uploaded into the album.
The day we moved into our new home, I gave them the album as a welcome gift to remind them that even though they are not close in distance, the relationships they made will forever be in their heart. And they now have a chance to expand their album with new connections and new experiences.
This one may be easier said than done, but it’s worth mentioning because the impact of reuniting with a long-distance bestie is priceless! I moved around a lot as an adult chasing my fashion retail career all over the country, and I have made life-long friends along the journey.
The joy of reconnecting in person is a feeling that is hard to describe in words. It’s nostalgic and exhilarating and feels like you never left. That in-person moment rekindles an incredible sense of belonging and instantly closes the distance, helping to strengthen the friendship.
Snail Mail/Pen Pals
The writer in me loves this idea! We all know that feeling of getting a handwritten letter or package in the mail–the sheer joy of retrieving something from the mailbox, and not knowing what it is. Encourage your child to write handwritten letters, make pictures, or create personalized packages to send to their friends. This is a great way to help your child maintain friendships after a move.
I remember the first package my daughter received from her best friend a month after we moved. Her face lit up. She took the package straight to her room and opened it as fast as possible. Every item in that box still sits on her dresser today, and they bring joy to her day when she looks at them, reminding her of the cherished friendship she made in another state.
Moving brings both challenges and opportunities, particularly when it comes to maintaining friendships. By recognizing the profound impact of friendships on our children’s lives, we can provide the support and guidance they need to nurture these connections, regardless of the distance.
Technology, snail mail, and reunions are a few ways to stay connected. Through this, we can empower our children to preserve existing friendships while continuing to expand their network of friends, fostering a sense of belonging, resilience, and a lifetime of cherished memories.