While moving house is stressful for the whole family, it can be much harder on children than adults. Kids often feel anxious, scared and unsettled when it comes to moving into new surroundings. That’s why it’s important to make any move an easy a transition as possible. Here’s how.
Plan your move
Before moving day it’s important to let your kids know what’s going to happen. Explain to them (if they are old enough to understand) why you are moving, where you are moving to, what will happen on moving day and let them help out with tasks so they feel a part of the process. If possible, take them to your new home before you move in and let them explore their new surroundings.
Talk about the positive aspects of the move: the new area you’re moving to, the new home etc. Let older children be involved in setting up their new bedrooms. Let them buy a new piece of furniture, new bed linen or get them involved in choosing the colour scheme.
For younger children, borrow books from the library about moving house or play moving house with their favourite teddy or doll. If you’re moving out of the area, give your children the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and family.
And more importantly, plan your move smoothly so your child will not pick up on your stress and anxiety.
On the day
Children of different ages will need different things on the day of the move. Your best bet is to get family and friends to look after babies, toddlers and younger children. If that’s not possible, be sure you have access to all the essentials like nappies, bottles, blankets, spare clothes, food and water as well as a few favourite toys and books. Try to find a safe spot for them to sit and play (or sleep) while the move is going on.
Understand that your older child may be anxious, nervous or very excited. Get older kids involved in the process with tasks like unpacking their belongings. You can turn the whole experience into a game or adventure.
Have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand and take time out to sit with your child and discuss what’s going on. This way you can talk through any negative feelings they may be experiencing.
Make it easy on the kids
Babies and toddlers will usually take to the new surrounding with very little concern. Try to keep to their routine as much as you can. And be sure to make childproofing the new home a top priority.
While younger children may show no signs of unease at having moved, others may. They might become unsettled in their routines, be clingy or need extra attention. Some pre-schoolers may begin to wet the bed, throw tantrums or have trouble settling down for the night.
Preschoolers and older children may have issues around sleeping in a strange room or home, so try to make the whole experience as comforting as possible. Include older kids in the unpacking and sorting, and let them set up their room with familiar objects.
School-aged children may experience nightmares, be anxious about starting at a new school or have negative feelings around the whole move. Let them express their emotions and be reassuring at all times. Get help if these feelings carry on for some time.
Top tips in summary
- Let your child see the new house (if possible) before you move in.
- Don’t pack those items most important to your child, ie a favourite blanket, toys or books. Let your child hold onto these items during the move.
- Where ever possible, get your child involved in the move.
- Set your child’s bedroom up before anything else, and give them plenty of time to settle in.
- Explore your new area with the whole family as soon as possible.