Moving to a new house is said to be one of the most stressful experiences. There is obviously the stress around making the decision to move, finding somewhere to move to – whether that’s rented or owned – and then the hassle of packing up, physically moving to the new house, and then unpacking at the other end. You really need to make it a smooth move.
Throw young children into the mix and the stress levels ramp up even more. Of course, there is excitement from children – new bedrooms to play in, new gardens to explore – but the upheaval can be more than a little unnerving.
Here, we look at some tips to make moving with kids a little smoother. Let’s go!
How to Have a Smooth Move
Prepare Them for the Move
As adults, we are often guilty of overlooking the need to prepare our children for big events such as a house move, mistakenly believing that shielding them from the event until the last possible moment alleviates some of the stress and makes for a smooth move. However, most children will manage better if they have some prewarning and preparation. This is especially true if you are expecting lots of viewers to your home and while you are trying to organize packing up and finding movers.
Children, especially younger ones, may worry that they will leave their pets or their favorite toys behind at their old house, so reassure them that these are going with them. Perhaps give them a disposable camera or let them take pictures with your phone of their old house to make a book, and have a picture of the new house at the end.
Take your kids to see the new house in advance if possible and talk about where all of their furniture will go. this will help make for a smooth move. Perhaps take a walk around the local area to check out the play areas, sweet shops, and other amenities that will appeal to the children.
Prepare for the Emotions
Many adults are emotional when moving to a new house, and children can be the same. Moving to a new house, especially if it is a long-distance move away from family and friends and in a completely new neighborhood can be a seismic change. Because of this, big emotions should be expected. And these emotions will not make for a smooth move. Even if they seem excited, there still be maybe underlying sadness or anxieties. Allow them the time and space to ‘grieve’ – it can take, on average, around six months for children to completely adjust to a new situation.
Not all moves are positive moves for adults. While it is more than okay to admit to your child that you are sad about moving or nervous – in fact, it can be helpful – don’t wallow and mope about it. Your children look to you to see how to react, and if they see you full of dread, they too will feel the same. Don’t compare the houses for better or worse, instead, look at what is exciting about the move and what you are looking forward to. Making them comfortable is important when trying for a smooth move.
Stick to Routines
This is easier said than done when you have boxes everywhere and beds need reassembling, especially if you have moved a long way, but keep to your normal day-to-day routines as far as possible. Try to use their normal bedding, their normal bed, and follow the same routine as normal. The more you can keep to their routine, the better the possibility of a smooth move.
Give Them Some Power
Children love to feel like they have some control over their environment and input in family decisions. Moving to a new house can sometimes make them feel like they have a loss of control or voice in the family, especially if they have resisted the move, but in the new house, try to show you value their opinions if you want to have a smooth move. Need a new rug in the living room? Why not narrow it down to two or three that you like and allow them to make the final decision?
Be Prepared for Some Regression
If you have toddlers and young children, regression is completely normal when they experience a huge change. Bedwetting, potty accidents, fussy eating, poor sleeping, and tantrums are completely normal even if they have seemingly passed that stage. Stick to your routines and positive reinforcement and allow them to move at their own pace in order to ensure a smooth move. Most will be back to their typical self within a few weeks.
Meet the Neighbors
If you have moved a long way and your children have had to move schools and away from their friends, it is important to facilitate new friendships and what better way than introducing yourselves to your new neighbors to ensure a smooth move? Depending on how outgoing your child is, now may be the time to sign up for sports or art classes to make new friends.
At school, try to get to the pickup early enough to strike up a conversation with other parents. This will help you to make new friends and also enable playdates and new friendships to develop. You could even throw a meet and greet party in your back yard – hire a bouncy castle, get the BBQ on and some drinks, and invite all of your neighbors!
Help your Children Develop Social Skills
Many children are friends with the same children that they have grown up with and played with all their lives. This means that they can be a little unsure on how to strike up new conversations. Teach them friendly and positive openers to conversations and how to introduce themselves. You can also look at new games to play – find out what the latest playground craze in the area is and teach your child how to play so that they can join in.
Moving to a new house is a big step for adults but can be an even bigger step for children. Giving them time to express and explore their emotions, keeping routines the same, and facilitating new friendships are all great ways to make the transition to their new home much easier make for a smooth move for all of you.
What are your top tips for moving house with children?