Getting ready to move can be very stressful for everyone in your household. Including the parents, children and even the pets, everyone realizes change is afoot and is anxious about it. Children have the distinct disadvantage of sometimes not being able to articulate their feelings or even understand where they are coming from. As a result, they may begin to act differently, only adding to the parents’ own anxiety about the move. However, a few simple steps can help manage the expectations about the move and make the process a lot smoother.
1. Invite them to take an active part in the planning
You don’t want to share your big news with the children until you are absolutely sure you are moving, but you do want to give them time to get used to the idea. Try to narrow your choice to move down to the basics so they can understand why it is happening.
Is a new job waiting for you across the country? Are you only moving to a new house with a bigger yard and more room for them to have fun? Talk them through the process of moving so they know what will happen, including boxing their things, shipping them and then unpacking your new place. By doing this you’ve already removed some uncertainty about the move and children know what to expect. Make sure you encourage them to ask questions about the move and answer them as clearly and completely as you can.
2. Always keep a positive tone and be optimistic about the change.
Your children will not only hear your words, but also take their cues from your attitude and body language, so make sure you watch yourself around them. It is always a good idea to tell them stories they can relate to about people moving. Some of them may come from real people telling them how they felt when they moved, or you may consult your local library for storybooks on the topic.
3. Set the stage for the move
Moving truly is a special time for families. It is a time for you to bond and share and embark on an incredible adventure together. You will get to decorate together and make a new house your home. If you appear excited, your children will be excited too. If at all possible, bring them to visit their new home, show them a virtual tour or show them pictures, this will help them imagine themselves in their new home. Ask for their opinions about things for the house, from the color of their bedroom to the flowers in the flower beds. This will help them take ownership of the move and embrace it. Don’t limit it to the looks of the new place, dare them to imagine what they can do once they get there- will there be a park around the corner? Will they camp in the living room? Is there a cool mantel to hang their stockings?
4. Give them responsibilities
There is no better way of involving your children than to give them a role in the move. Packing up some of their things is a good way of keeping occupied and an active part of the move. Even if you find that you are working double when your little ones help, it makes them feel important and part of the decision-making process. This is also a great moment for you to sit with your children and decide what they want to take and what should stay, including toys they have outgrown.
5. Managing the big day
Your best bet is to have another grown-up help you watch the kids while you supervise the move. It should be someone the kids’ trust and who will be sensitive to their anxiety about leaving their home. Always explain each person’s role – the people loading the truck, the driver, any cleaning staff, etc. You should let them choose a few things to take with them when you finally leave the house such as favorite toys, snacks, favorite clothing, etc. This will not only help them feel more secure, but it will also help you when you arrive in your new place. They will take this responsibility very seriously, as they will be guarding their most precious belongings. Always try to give them a sense of timing to the best of your ability. If you know it will be a long day, let them know you won’t leave the house until they are done with their naps, or after a favorite show starts on TV. Always try to overestimate the time it will take to get everything done so you don’t have your little ones anxiously awaiting their adventure.
6. The Big Day
So now that everything is packed and ready to go, you finally embark upon your new adventure. If you are driving to your new home, make sure to take books and games to keep them entertained in the car. You may want to make a road trip tote for each child with crayons, coloring books and favorite books. Parents can use the time in the car to encourage each child to envision their new home and what you will do once you get there. Make sure to acknowledge their feelings if they are sad about leaving their home, they need to know it is okay to be nervous about a new place and that you are going to miss your old house too.
Moving is not easy for any of your family members, but your children look up to you to understand what is happening and decided how they feel about it. Make sure to include them in your planning and give them ample time to get used to the idea. The more excited you appear, the more excited they will be. There are always tips to making the process easier, like the ones above.
What have you done to prepare your children for a move?