5 Ways To Help Children Adjust To Moving
Whether you’re moving across town or moving across the country, the transition can be exciting, daunting, highly anticipated, or even a little scary. Moving with children can be all those things and then some! Children of all ages will experience a wide range of emotions during the moving process and we, as adults, need to take the time to consider what it must be like for them and try to make the move as stress-free as possible.
This can be a difficult task, especially if you’re a little anxious about the move yourself. Not only do you have to look after everything that goes into buying a new home (finding the right spot, managing all the paperwork, packing and unpacking, adjusting to a new surrounding), but you also have your family to consider.
So, the big question: how can I make the moving process easier on my children? Well, to aid you in this intimidating stage of life, we’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to help children adjust to moving.
1. Prepare them for what’s coming
Communication is key within every family, particularly when your family is facing a major change. Moving to a new home can be a hard experience for an adult to swallow, but to a child? A child may view moving as an uproot to their entire world. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with your kids; Talk them through the upcoming experience, talk to them during the transition, and talk to them once you’ve started to settle in.
Be prepared for some upset or confused reactions and acknowledge these feelings. It’s okay, and completely understandable, for kids to be nervous about uprooting their lives and starting somewhere fresh. You may be itching to get packed up and move into your new home, but your child may not understand why you need to make the move and be scared of the idea of a new house, especially if they’ve lived in the same place their entire life.
Involve your children in the moving process as much as possible. Before relocating, explain to them what they can expect. If they are at least somewhat prepared, they won’t be completely struck by the anxiety of facing the unknown. Sure, it may still seem daunting to them, but if you talk them through the experience, it will help to calm their nerves.
Let your child help you pack, ask them which color they’d like to paint their new room, ask for their advice when you’re organizing your new living space. Keeping them involved will give them a sense of control throughout the transition and hopefully encourage a sense of excitement rather than anxiety.
2. Pack up their old room last and set up their new room first
Try to pack your child’s things up near the end of the packing process. Leaving their room until then will allow them to hold on to something familiar during this strange transition period. When it does come time to pack up their bedroom, let them be as involved as possible. The last thing you want to do is take away all of their comfort items while they’re away at school. Clearly label their boxes so they can be reassured that their treasured possessions are not going to be lost in the chaos of boxes and containers.
Once you start to unpack in your new house, start with your child’s new room. The rest of your house may be a mess of unorganized boxes and furniture, but having access to their own space will help your child adjust quicker and give them a sense of safety and belonging in their strange new environment. This will also allow them to have a place to play (and stay out of the way) while you put the rest of the house in order.
If you’re not able to unpack all of their things right away, maybe your shipping container got delayed and all you have are a few boxes that you brought in the car, be sure to pack a few of their favorite books or toys separately so that they’ll have something familiar immediately when you arrive at the new place.
3. Get back into routine as soon as possible
Children thrive on routine and familiar schedules. Anyone who’s had to keep their kids out past their bedtime or had to deviate from their normal schedule can attest to the crankiness that follows. It’s so important to stick to regular mealtimes and bedtimes during the moving process. It can be hard, especially when half of your belongings are still packed away, but try to get back into a familiar routine as quickly as you can.
Plan your unpacking around these familiar routines. Prioritize setting up children’s bedrooms, be sure to have a few kitchen essentials easily available, and try to have plenty of snacks at the ready to appease the grumbling tummies of little ones.
If you’re moving with infants, try to keep their nap schedule as consistent as possible. This can be tricky, especially if you’re moving a great distance, but try your best. Also important when it comes to moving with infants, take plenty of breaks to snuggle! It may take a little longer to unpack, but giving your child that extra bit of attention whenever you can will help to normalize the situation.
Keep in mind that you are a model for your children. If they see you remaining calm, taking breaks, and making time to eat proper meals during such a stressful time, it’ll help them to do the same. Maintaining basic, day-to-day activities will help regulate them back into a more structured environment and help to ease any fears or anxieties they have about their new home.
4. Encourage new friendships, but maintain the old ones as well
Moving with school-age children can be particularly difficult, as they have already established firm friendships and bonds with their peers. If you’re moving a great distance, it’ll be hard for your child to come to terms with not seeing their friends every day at school or having them over for playdates.
Fortunately, we live in an age where technology and social media provides a plethora of communication methods! Explain to your children that they can video chat, text, write letters and emails, or chat on the phone with their friends at any time. If you’re close enough, you can even organize visits and sleepovers on the weekend.
As important as it is for children to maintain their old friendships, you should be encouraging new friendships as well. Breaking into a new friend group can seem daunting and difficult, but fortunately, children are incredibly adaptable. To aid in the process, sign your children up for extracurricular activities and sports groups. This will help them to find friends with similar interests and give them a sense of belonging.
5. Plan some fun outings and activities in your new neighborhood
As busy as moving can be, it’s important to familiarize your children with their new surroundings. Take the time to explore your new area and bond as a family. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Take a break from unpacking and check out the local playground, making sure to test out each swing and slide.
- Research the best local pizza joint and get out for your first meal in your new town.
- Take your kids to the local library and get them set up with a card and see if the library hosts any fun programs and activities that they can get involved in.
- If you’re close enough to your old home, have your children invite a friend over to show off their new house.
Young children may benefit from visiting the new area before the move, if possible. Plan a day trip to tour around the neighborhood, visit the local parks, eat at a restaurant close to the new house, and drive by your soon-to-be home to show your child exactly where they will be living. This will help them to better understand where they will be going and realize that it’s not so scary and unknown.
If you know any families that live in your new area, call them up to organize a playdate. Having local children show your kids around their favorite park can seem more convincing than a parent promising that it’ll be fine.
For those that are moving a long distance, it can be hard to give your child an idea of what they’ll be moving into without actually visiting first. In this case, take some time to do a little research with them. Find your new address on Google Maps, explore the street view, and search nearby attractions. Look up local attractions and talk about all the fun they’re going to be having once they get there.
A new city or town can seem incredibly overwhelming to a child. Not only are they losing their old friends and familiar surroundings, but they may experience anxiety about their new home, new school, and new surroundings. However, as a parent, you have the opportunity to treat this transition like a big adventure! Try to engage your child’s inquisitive spirit and answer all of their questions about the new neighborhood so that they have a little more knowledge about where they’re headed. Try not to stress this process too much; if you’re relaxed, chances are, they’ll relax as well.