If you’re moving home with kids, it is likely that you will be moving away from a home that they feel comfortable in and possibly have spent their whole lives in up to this point. So, leaving has the potential to upset them and cause worries about what the future holds.
As a parent you are going to want to flip the script, changing the move into a more positive experience for them and minimising their stress. Here are 10 ways you can help your child through the moving process!
1. Give them time
You may think that telling them that you are moving later on will give them less time to worry about it, but it will also give them less time to prepare. It is impossible to stop them from having concerns or worries about leaving their home, but the earlier you tell them the more time you will have to help them adjust to the idea and get excited about the move.
If you tell them early, you can use this time to show them the house, or the area you are planning to move to. Let them explore so things aren’t so alien when they eventually move there. If they will be joining a new school along with the move, you could try and get a tour of the school to acquaint them with it.
2. Keep them involved
Whatever the reason behind your move, it’s important that your children feel optimistic and excited about it. One of the best ways to get them there is to let that have some control over the move. Ask their advice on things like paint colours and décor. You could even involve them by letting them plan and design their own bedrooms.
If your kids are older, you may want them to accompany you when viewing houses, so that you can see what they respond to and where they would like to live. Alternatively, you could sit down with your children and ask them what they would like in a house. You may get some unrealistic requests but it’s good to make them feel listened to.
3. Try moving during a holiday
If your children are old enough to be in school, it’s good to plan a move outside of term time if you can. This way there won’t be any interruption to their schooling while they move, and then adjust to their change in situation. Another small bonus is that you won’t have to leave their school stuff out of the packing.
This point is particularly important if your move results in your kids changing schools. It’s best to try and move during the summer holidays if you can. This way they won’t be starting school in the middle of a year or term, which can be disruptive to their education. It is also possible that they can use the summer to meet local children that may go to the school, so that they already have some friends when they start.
However, because of this the summer holidays are a notoriously busy time for the moving industry, so make sure you book services early, especially removals
4. Pack toys last
A good trick for moving day with young kids is to make sure the removal men pack the kid’s toys, and perhaps personal belongings, onto the truck last. The benefit of this is that when you get to your new home, these will be the first things to come off the truck. This will get your children excited and get them involved in unpacking and organizing their room straight away. It also means they have things available to keep them occupied if they get bored or restless during the whole unpacking process.
An important tip is to try and make sure they keep their toys under control and tidy when they are unpacked and don’t make too much of a mess. You don’t want yourself or a removal person to step on the toys and break them, or possibly hurt themselves.
5. Don’t rush them
On moving day, it can seem best to get everything packed and ready to go as quickly as possible. However, remember that children are very emotional, and will not be so quick to accept change. They will likely be sad about leaving the home they grew up in, so you should allow them time to say goodbye to the house properly.
You could take them around the empty house to say goodbye to all the rooms or say goodbye to the house from outside, perhaps with one last photo. Before the move you might want to help them make a memory book, getting pictures of the house and the fun times you had there. This can help them to say goodbye as they will have the memories with them to return to.
6. Have fun
Moving day itself can be very stressful and high pressure, and this can be particularly true for children. So, coming up with ways to make the move more enjoyable for them can help to keep them calm, as well as make them less of a nuisance to you.
There are plenty of games and activities you can play with all the boxes you have, for example you could let your children decorate each box, so you know what’s inside. Once they’re empty you could build a fort. Hide and Seek could be a good game for getting to know your new house, or you could come up with your own exploring game.
If you have a long journey to get to your new house, try and play some games in the car to keep them in high spirits. This will especially help if they were emotional about leaving the old house.
7. Prioritize them
After you’ve arrived at your new house and everything is inside, you’re obviously going to have a lot to unpack. After the essential things, like food and bedding, you should prioritize getting your children’s things unpacked. In order for kids to deal with the change, it’s crucial that they feel at home in the new house, and they can’t do that while surrounded by boxes.
If you focus on helping them to unpack and set up their own space, likely their bedroom, they will then be surrounded by familiar things. This will make them more comfortable in their new setting, making it easier for them (and by extension, you) to settle in. If you have a garden, it may be a good idea to prioritize setting up any garden equipment, such as swings or trampolines, so that they can play outside too.
8. Keep your routine
When you’re moving house, it’s very easy to let it change how your life works, as you’re fitting it around packing, unpacking, decorating etc. However, it is valuable for kids to have continuity, to keep them calm and happy.
While it’s inevitable that things will change with this move, there are some things that don’t have to. Make sure you continue to go to bed at the same time, eat at the same time and do any activities you usually do regularly as a family. This will keep your kids having a sense of normality.
For this reason, it is also good to keep as much from your old house as possible when you move, such as furniture and bedding. This does not mean you can’t change your furniture or your style later on, but in the beginning it’s best to keep a hold of things, for your children sake. It will make the changes in their life seem less catastrophic, as they still have the same life as before, just in a new location.
9. Handle your stress
Moving to a new house is bound to be stressful for you, and its ok to feel stressed. However, your kids feed off your energy and if you are giving off a lot of anxiety, it’s going to make them feel just as anxious, if not more. It’s important for you to try and control your stress levels and keep an eye on the emotional signals you’re giving off to your children.
Find out more about handling your stress around moving day
It’s helpful to note that you should be looking after your mental health
throughout the moving process and not just on the day itself. Looking worried about the move before it happens may put the idea in young children’s minds that it is a bad thing, because they won’t understand why you are stressed, just that you are unhappy. Do what you can to assure them that you are excited about the move (even if you actually aren’t) and that they should be too.
10. Keep talking
Throughout the moving house process, the most vital thing you should be doing is talking to your children. Some kids find things more worrying or stressful than others, so it is important that your kids know you are there for them. Let them know that they can talk to you if they have any concerns or any questions about the move. Even if they seem fine, still ask them how they feel. You may even find they’re excited, which could make you feel the same.
Depending on their age it may also be good to talk to them about why you’re moving, what you’re doing at each stage and what will happen next. This will help keep them in the loop and make the whole situation less alien to them. It will also again help them feel more involved in the move.
You can’t control how your children will feel or react in any situation, and no two children will necessary do so in the same way. But doing your best to make your move a positive experience for your children can help you ease their worries and calm their minds. It can also help to make it a positive experience for you and the rest of your family too.