Moving house is a big deal no matter how old you are, but it has a different impact on different age groups. Adults, for example, might be concerned about the logistics of the move, while teenagers might worry about their status in a new school, and toddlers – well, they might not worry as such, but losing the familiarity of their old house might cause them to worry about losing other things as well.
Moving house is a big deal no matter how old you are, but it has a different impact on different age groups. Adults, for example, might be concerned about the logistics of the move, while teenagers might worry about their status in a new school, and toddlers – well, they might not worry as such, but losing the familiarity of their old house might cause them to worry about losing other things as well. If you’re worried about the effects of moving house on your children, read on for some tips on how to make the process easier.
- Involve them as much as possible.
Discuss the move with your children as early as possible and try to involve them in the process. Their level of involvement will depend on their age. Toddlers, for example, won’t really understand what moving house is all about, so you’ll have to explain it very simply – again and again. Putting it in story form may help their understanding. As far as involvement goes, they can help decorate their new room by picking the theme or colours and they can help pack up their room and unpack it again in the new house. This gives them a sense of ownership.
You can discuss things in greater detail with older children, and consider their input, especially from teenagers. You could, for example, look at online property listings together, and chat about the pros and cons of the houses you view.
Take your kids with you when you visit the new house so that they can become familiar with the property – the home and garden – as well as the neighbourhood. Make a morning or afternoon of it; see the house, go for a walk and maybe have a picnic in the local park or have tea or lunch at a nearby café or restaurant.
- Keep things familiar and stick to routine.
Kids, especially young children, are very attached to their comfort zones and moving house takes them out of their comfort zone in a big way. Keeping familiar items around will help them cope with all the newness and make the transition much easier. Pack up their room last and unpack it first, and don’t buy all new furniture, curtains and bedding, at least not for the first few months.
Also try stick to their old routine just before, during and just after the move by having meals at the same time and enforcing a normal bedtime and waking up time. If things are just too hectic and there is no way you can keep up old routines, enlist the help of granny and granddad or a family friend your children adore.
- Stay sane.
Moving house is stressful, and there are a million and one things demanding your attention, including your kids, but it’s crucial that you remain patient and talk to your children and answer their questions about the move (even if you’ve answered them a million times before), and also make time to have some fun and unwind. It doesn’t have to be hours of fun, but a relaxing meal with your favourite people in the world can help take some of the stress out the move.
You can help keep your sanity on moving day by getting your children out from under your feet and depositing them at your parents or that old trusted family friend. Remember, however, that if your children are very young they might not understand that this is just for the day. They might think that you’re getting rid of them as part of the move, so explain carefully that you’ll be back for them and then don’t be late picking them up. It’s also a good idea to let them say goodbye to the old house before you drop them off, so do a walk through and let them be as sentimental as they like to be.
- Watch out of signs that they’re not adjusting.
Adjusting to a new home can take children up to six or eight weeks. Don’t be surprised if you see some regression in behaviour, especially in young children. For example, they might start wetting the bed again, they may not want to let you out their sight or they might have trouble eating and sleeping. They could also become more introverted and withdrawn. Be patient during this time, be available whenever they want to talk, don’t rush them and let them adjust at their own pace. However, if their behaviour isn’t back to normal within about three months, you might need to consult a doctor.
Moving house with a family (children of all ages and pets) in tow is not easy, but you aren’t the only one who feels the stress. Keep your kids involved in the process, consider their (age-related) needs and be available whenever they need to talk and you can alleviate a lot of their unease, as well as your own.