Moving house is stressful enough for adults: it comes with the burden of additional work, financial worries, not to mention the fear that in the worst case scenario, it could all go wrong and your family could end up homeless! While these might be the thoughts that keep you awake at night, you are, at least nominally, in charge of what’s happening. You can speak to estate agents and solicitors, find affordable movers and packers, and start packing. Children just have a move happen to them: it’s totally out of their hands, and it can be confusing, frustrating and upsetting as well as exciting.
Here are two hints to help your children adjust to the move, so they’ll be as ready for moving day as you are!
The most intimidating aspect of a move for a child is the powerlessness: it feels like a huge lifechanging event is being foisted on them. Getting them involved with the process is important: it demystifies what’s happening, gives them some agency in events and also keeps them busy, which is a great defence against worry.
Giving your children some responsibilities with packing is a great way to involve them in the moving process, and also reassure them that their possessions are safe: they don’t simply see things disappearing from all over the house while boxes appear instead. They’ll know their toys are being safely packed up to be retrieved later.
This is less of a concern if you are moving within the same town, and your children are staying at the same school – lots of familiar standbys in their life will be kept the same.
If you’re moving a long way, perhaps due to work, there’s a lot more disruption to your children’s lives. They’ll miss friends and favourite places and moving to somewhere new and unknown will be a disturbing idea.
Firstly, listen to their worries: dismissing them out of hand will just defer them to return more dramatically later. Find the time to talk with them and acknowledge their anxieties.
You can help to reassure them by focusing on other ‘firsts’ they worried about and made a success of. For example, calling back to their first day at school, when they were worried and nervous but went on to have a great time. Also, do some research on your new home. Find a few things your children can be excited about there that they can’t do at home, whether that’s visiting a park or play area, or a local attraction make sure it’s specific to the child and to the area you’re moving to.
If they’re worried about losing friends, it’s a good idea in the run up to a move to find time to organise calls and skype conversations with the friends they’ll miss: this will reassure them they can stay in touch, even as they make new friends in their new home.