Moving house is a big upheaval. Even if you are moving within the same area, it’s a significant change. The move itself is a great physical strain. You’ll have a large to-do list and settling into life in a new home can be daunting. If you are moving further away, it can be even more of a change. You might be changing your job after the move, or having to embrace a new commute. You might be further away from your friends and family, and everything can feel a little different. It can easily take us a few weeks or even months before we feel settled.
So, imagine how it must feel for children. From our point of view moving with kids is hard work. They get in the way when we’re trying to pack or clean. They stop eating and sleeping as well as they used to. Their behaviour might change, or they might be moody and anxious. But to them, their whole life is changing. They might be worried about being left behind, or losing their toys. It can be a massive change, especially for very young children. Here are some tips, to help them, and you, to get through it without too much stress.
Make them Feel Involved
The worst thing that you can do is plan a big move without preparing your kids at all. It might feel as though it’s easier to do things without them, but suddenly moving without warning could cause them great upset.
Of course, how much you involve them will depend on how old and mature they are, and only you can make that decision. If you can, prepare them for the move as soon as you’ve decided that it’s happening. Let them look at houses with you online. Ask them what they’d like in their new house and talk about some of the more exciting aspects, like their bedroom and the garden. Make sure they understand that they might not get everything that they ask for, but there’s nothing wrong with having ideas.
Then, take them to view any prospective properties if you can. Let them walk around, and encourage them to imagine how it might look with your furniture by asking questions like “do you think your bed would fit there?” “What colour would you paint that wall?” And make sure you try to answer their questions as honestly as you can.
Once you’ve decided on a house, you could keep involving them by looking at decor ideas and paint samples together or going to look at furniture. You might want to create a scrapbook of ideas together, cutting pictures out of magazines and catalogues and drawing room plans. Even if decorating is a long way off, it gives them something to look forward to and get excited about.
Ease Your Own Stress
Your kids pick up on your emotions and moods a lot more than you think they do. If you are worried about the move or stressed out about how much you’ve got to do, your kids will start to feel tense and scared. Even young children that might not be able to vocalise their worries pick up on a lot more than you might think.
So, find ways to make things easier for yourself. Look at interstate removal companies to make moving day itself much easier. Write a list of everyone that you need to tell about your new address, and get started as soon as you’ve got a moving date. Start packing up things that you don’t need well in advance, making sure the boxes are labelled and organised.
If you are buying, make sure you find a solicitor that you trust, and will keep you informed throughout the process. There’s nothing more stressful than waiting for news and not knowing what is happening.
Your kids are going to need plenty of reassurance, and you need to keep giving it to them, even if they stop asking. Answer any questions that they might have about moving, even things like “can I take my toys?” Which might seem obvious to you, but could be causing them great worry.
If you aren’t moving far, show them how close their friends and family will be. Show them that they can still go to the same parks and playgrounds and maybe even the same school by making the journey with them. Show them how easy it will be, and that things don’t have to change too much.
If you are moving further away, and it’s going to be a bigger change, you can still show them that things don’t have to be too different. Spend time speaking to your family on a video call to show them how easy it will be. Look online to see what’s in your new area.
When it comes to packing, you might want to start as soon as you can. But, you shouldn’t pack all of your kid’s things too early. Even the things that you think they won’t notice, they are sure to want the second you seal the box. Let them keep their toys and clothes out for as long as you can, and don’t make massive changes to their rooms until you are close to moving.
Let Them Make Decisions
A move is an excellent chance for a big clear out, but don’t just go into it without asking them. Don’t start getting rid of their toys in the hope that they won’t notice. They might then associate moves with losing their things, or worry that something has gone wrong.
Explain charity shops to them, and talk to them about giving their toys to children that have less. Let them help you choose things and take them to the donation spots together.
Spend Time in the Area
If you can, spend time with your children in the area that you are moving too. Visit parks, playgrounds, libraries and other locations that they might enjoy. Show them that there is plenty to do, and get excited about. If you have the keys to your new house before moving day, let them go in and spend some time there, even if it’s empty. If you can’t get in, still spend time walking around the area and looking at the house from the outside. The more time you spend there, the less scary the move will seem and the easier it will be for them to settle in afterwards.
While you want to involve them as much as you can, and you certainly shouldn’t do it all without them, moving day itself is long, hard work, tiring and even dangerous for a small person. Consider a babysitter, or asking a friend or family member to look after your kids for the more physical part of the move. But, if possible, make it so that they can spend that first night with you in your new home.
Pack a First Night Box
That first night is special and important. You don’t want to spend it searching for pyjamas and toothbrushes. So, keep a box separate. Make sure it includes your children favourite pyjamas and cuddly toys, but also add a favourite bedtime story, and maybe a DVD and some snacks so that you can spend some family time together before bed.
Don’t Change Their Bed
When it comes to bed, it’s a good idea to avoid clean bedding for the first few days. Move duvets and pillows in their cases. The familiar smells and textures can help them to settle and sleep on that first night, making things feel homely and comfortable.