Moving is among the most stressful events in life, and really it’s no wonder. There is so much to prepare and pay, as well as a long period of waiting. This period is more than often very stressful as you wait to exchange contracts, along with the confirmation that you will be moving into your new home. In addition to this stress, those who have small children face a whole other battle on top of it all. Change is not always easy for children to deal with, especially those that are very young. Here are some tips for moving house with them, as well as a few things you can do to make the experience a little more enjoyable for them.
Before You Move and How to Tell Them
Before you move house, you need to tell the children. The best way to do this is to organise a family meeting where you can all get together and discuss the fact that you will be moving. It’s a great idea to have pictures of the new house available for them to see, as well as a photo of the child’s new room so that they can visualise what they want it to look like.
Spend time researching the area with them during this meeting. You can all go online together and take a look at some of the fun activities that go on in the area, as well as places to play and exciting restaurants to eat at. If you are able to, it would be a great idea to take them to visit the new home as well, allowing them to familiarise themselves not only with the house, but the area around it. You can take a trip to the locations you looked at online so that they can experience where they will be living.
You should talk to your children about your own moving stories and the places you have moved to in the past. Make sure these stories are all very positive and help to reassure your child that change is a good thing and that saying goodbye to friends doesn’t have to be forever. Suggest a leaving party for their friends before you leave, as well as a possible play date at your new home once everyone is settled in.
They are likely to ask the following questions: why are we moving? When are we moving? Do the pets get to come? Do I have to get rid of my toys? What will happen to my friends? What happens on moving day? Take some time to make sure each of their questions are addressed and met with reassurance. Of course their pets and toys will come with them, they will stay in contact with their friends, etc. Keep them feeling good and positive about the move, as many children struggle with the concept of change.
Some children can find packing distressing, especially when it comes to putting their toys and books in boxes. Many children believe that they won’t see them again because they are being taken away, so make sure they are reassured that this is only temporary and they will be reunited in the new house. As an important note, ensure the moving company put the children’s boxes on last so that they are the first to come off.
Allow your children to do their own packing and decorate the boxes with coloured pens and labels like “my toys”. This will help them to feel better about the process. As they pack, let them keep one or two toys out that they can have on the car journey to your new home. This allows them to have some familiarity and comfort as they go through this period of change. In fact, it is sometimes nice to give them a bag that they can fill with entertainment for the moving period.
Moving Far Away
Moving abroad, however, can be a little more stressful and frightening for children – especially as you can’t always take them to see the new house. However, it is possible to do all of the others things mentioned in the “before moving” section to reduce their fears and keep them feeling positive about moving away.
After all, you can still research the area with them and find fun things to do while they are living there. It will be more difficult for them to understand leaving their friends, but you can always arrange holiday’s back so that they can meet up. If you have pets, animals are allowed overseas but you may want to consider the practicalities of moving your pets if they are small animals like guinea pigs that may not travel well.
Take them through the plane, ferry, or train journey to their new home and how exciting it will be to travel somewhere new. Adventure is key as most children love the idea of exploration. This kind of change is much bigger than the average house move, and so it should be handled delicately and with a great deal of positivity. If you have been to the country as a family before, remind them of how much fun you all had there.
Why Moving is Stressful and Reducing Stress Levels
Children find moving house more stressful than adults, and this is because they will automatically focus on all the negatives and losses they have to experience. Things like the loss of friends, leaving their room behind, no longer visiting their favourite restaurants, and the fear that all of their toys will be lost. All of these things manifest themselves and causes severe stress for children as they cannot always fathom the idea that it will all turn out well for them.
There are a few signs of stress that you can look for in your children if you are afraid that the concept of moving house may be affecting them badly.
In young children:
- Sucking their thumb
- Wetting the bed
- Reverting to baby talk
- Constant clinging to you
In older children:
- Refusing to eat
- Fiddling with hair
- Aggression and shyness
In school aged children:
- Muddled sleeping patterns
- Issues with concentration
- Stomach and head pain
- Personality changes (lying/stealing)
Children often have trouble expressing their complex feelings, and so they show them through their actions and nervous tics that develop as a result. During this transition period, it is important to keep their routines as constant as possible. Make sure at least one adult (whether it is the parents, family member, or close family friend) is there for the child to talk to if they want to express any of their fears and concerns.
Make sure you don’t make promises that you cannot keep in order to placate them, you can damage their trust in you and cause severe disappointment. This is especially true if you promise them a pet knowing that it will not happen. You should also try not to buy too much new furniture during this period. Old items create a sense of familiarity and security, so your child will feel better and more relaxed surrounded by the furniture and items they know. This can realty reduce stress levels.
Reassurance and involvement in every step towards moving house can also help them to feel calmer about the situation. Allowing them to be involved and to take part in discussions makes them feel like part of the team, which makes them feel better about moving. Keep them involved and updated, so that they know what to expect and when to expect it. Unpredictability can be tricky for children during this time.
For some children, stress can be relieved if moving day is spent with family or friends, away from the chaos and instead enjoying themselves by playing games or going on outings with relatives. Of course, they could also be left with family friends for the day and entertained at their homes. It all depends on what you feel will work best for you and the children. Some children really benefit from being there on moving day, so you have to do what you think is best.
Making Moving Fun and Saying Goodbye
Make packing and moving an adventure. Let them sleep on their mattress on the floor a week before you move while you take the bed apart, ensure that it remains exciting and allow them to help you pack items that are not fragile. It can be quite a lot of fun and excitement for them if you make things a little more adventurous. Talk about how this is an exciting new chapter for the whole family, and the great things you will all do together when you arrive.
For the journey, pack some entertainment for the children in the form of things they like. This could be anything from their favourite books, to toys and games that can be played in a car or other vehicle. Sometimes colouring is a great option as it keeps them quiet and concentrating for periods of time. You can even give them a plan of their new bedroom so they can decide where they want to put things, which is not only a fun activity for them, but helps the moving team to know where to put things.
Try to play games on the journey. Things like I Spy, Mini, and other popular car games will go down a treat with your children. You can even reward the winner with a sweet to makes things a little more fun and competitive. If you have a moving van, you are likely to overtake them at some point (even though they usually set off before you), and so you can make a game of trying to spot the van on your way to overtake it.
Another great game is looking out for your new house. As you get closer to your destination, let your children know so that they can start looking out for their new home. It is sure to get the excitement levels up and the children feeling incredibly positive about this previously scary change. The whole car can get involved, allowing everyone to bond over the experience. Making games to play is one of the best ways to have everyone talking and looking forward to the new home.
In the car (or other mode of transport) is sometimes a nice place to discuss your new home. You and the children can talk about the things you are most looking forward to about the area and the house itself. Ask the children what they will do first when the moving van is unloaded, and talk about the great things they can expect. If a holiday, such as Christmas, is coming up, you can talk about how you are looking forward to celebrating in the new home.
Sometimes when you move house, there is the need for temporary accommodation as you go between homes. This can often be unavoidable as the time those who bought your home want to move in and the time you can move into your home have a block of time between them. This can be a little confusing for children and also increase their stress levels, but there are things you can do to ease the confusion and make things a little simpler to grasp.
Make the house feel as homely as possible, without unpacking too many possessions because that will create a lot more work for you later on. It should feel familiar to the children, with their favourite books and toys out and available for them to use. This will help them to settle a little. Make sure they know that this is only temporary, and the exciting new house with their new room will be happening soon.
Try to keep your child’s routine unchanged and remain positive as well as supportive during the period of time you spend at the temporary home. It can be a tricky time for the whole family, but with a good attitude and the inclusion of fun in the process, the whole thing will be a lot easier to handle.
When the day finally arrives it can be a little hectic. As previously mentioned, some children may benefit from going to family or friends for the day so that they can have some fun and relax. However, this is not always practical and not every child will benefit from this particular method. As a result, it is sometimes better to bring them along and let them help out.
As a reminder, it is a great idea to ensure that their boxes are packed on the van last, so that they are the first to come off. This way, you can give them the task of unpacking their boxes while you and the moving team get the bulky and heavy stuff out of the way and placed in the home. It gives the children a sense of purpose and is a great way to get them involved.
Back to the main topic, however. If you are moving to a home that is several hours away it is a good plan to pack a picnic basket with snacks and drinks so that everyone has something if they need it. Make sure you know where all the rest stops are as well in case of the need for a toilet break. You should also make sure all of the screws and other parts that are used to put the furniture together are put in separate and labelled Ziploc bags so that they are easy to find and don’t get lost.
Make sure you children have a special job that is just for them when you are doing a final sweep of the house. Things like making sure no toys have been left behind, and checking all of the cupboards. Of course, you can give it a good once over afterwards, but it is important to make them feel included in the moving process.
Arriving before the moving team can also be a great way to allow your children to explore their new home and begin familiarising with it while they wait for their possessions to arrive. They can look for hiding places and hidden doors, as well as exploring their new bedrooms and making final decisions with regards to where they want their furniture to be placed.
When the moving team arrives, make sure you save a few of the packing boxes for the children to play with as well – there is nothing more exciting to them than a cardboard box and the possibilities it provides their imaginations with.
For the first night in your new home, order a pizza or another favourite takeaway and get some ice cream in. Whether you have children or not, it is tradition not to cook on the first night in a new home. You’ll probably be too exhausted as well. Plus, it is a great treat for the children and can help to boost their settling into their new home.
Settling in to Your New Home
The final part of moving in can be the trickiest, and that’s settling into your new home. Some children adapt really quickly to their new environment, but for others it can take a little longer. If your child becomes clingier and needy after moving in there is no need to worry, this is a completely normal thing to happen and it will become less over time and as they settle into their new home.
The best way to try and boost the settling process is by ensuring they unpack relatively quickly (possibly with your assistance), and then taking them to the local park, out for lunch, and to other activities that are close to your home. This can help them to start having fun and enjoying their new house as well as the activities and attractions that they can visit around them.
Settling can take time, all depending on the child and how they cope with the moving process.
Moving house with children can be a stressful time for everyone, and while it can depend on the child change is a difficult thing for them to deal with a lot of the time. Staying calm, letting them pack their own boxes, and keeping their routine as constant as possible are just some of the ways you can make the moving process easier.
So when it is time for you to move house with your little ones, make sure you go through this guide for the best tips and advice to keep them happy and calm during the move and to help them settle. Plus, there are some great indicators for when your child could be suffering with stress. Here’s to a great, easy, and stress free move for you and the family.