Relocating to a new home is a significant life event – and even adults can feel a mix of excitement and apprehension both before and after a move.
For children, however, the whole moving experience can really be daunting. The prospect of leaving behind their familiar surroundings, the routines they’ve established and their old neighborhoods can trigger a lot of stress and anxiety. Yet, with the right strategies and support, you can ease this transition for your children and help them adjust.
Let’s talk about some practical steps that can ease the adjustment process for your little ones and make transitioning to your new home a success. Obviously, you have to tailor these suggestions to your children’s ages and personalities, but below are some tips to make the process easier.
Communicate Openly and Honestly
One of the biggest things that can upset a child is not understanding what is happening, why it’s happening and what to expect. By demystifying this whole event through open and honest conversations, the kids remain aware about what’s coming.
Before the move, sit down with your children and explain why the move is happening. Whether that’s because you’re relocating for your job, you want a bigger home for your growing family, you are seeking a better school system or something else, make sure that your children have an age-appropriate understanding of why you’ve made this decision for your family.
Encourage your kids to ask questions and share their feelings – and make certain to acknowledge and address their concerns. Remember, too, that younger children may have fears that won’t even occur to an adult, so encourage your children to talk about anything that bothers them about the upcoming move. Let them know it’s okay to feel different emotions about the pending move, even negative ones.
Give Your Children Some Power in the Situation
A lot of childhood angst and frustration can be eased simply by giving your children some sense of control over the situation.
For example, a move may seem like the ideal time to “clean house” and get rid of a lot of clutter (and it is), but your kids may not feel ready to give up those old stuffed animals or forgotten picture books. Let your children put what they no longer want into a donation box, but don’t force them to give up anything they say they want to keep.
For younger children, comfort items like a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or toy can provide a sense of security during the move and as they adjust to their new home. Encourage them to pack a backpack or travel bag with items they want to keep close to them and want to move themselves so that they don’t have to worry about everything they own disappearing into boxes and a big moving truck.
Additionally, involve your kids in decorating their new rooms. Let them choose the paint colors, any new bedding and how they want their furniture laid out. This sense of ownership over their surroundings can boost their confidence and make them more enthusiastic about the whole thing.
Stick to Familiar Routines as Much as Possible
Maintaining familiar routines can be a stabilizing factor during a move because it gives your child a sense that life is still predictable.
Try to keep consistent meal times, bedtime routines and daily schedules as much as possible. Even if you have to read their favorite bedtime stories to them while snuggled up on an air mattress for a few nights, try to keep things as normal as you can – especially when you’re in the middle of the chaos of packing and unpacking. Also, keep in mind that what can feel chaotic when you’re an adult is even more confusing and upsetting to a kid.
Keep Your Own Attitude Upbeat and Positive
More than anything, your children take their cues from you. If you seem frantic or stressed, the kids may perceive the move in a negative light – no matter how much you try to sell them on its benefits.
If you approach the move with a positive outlook, it’s more likely that your children will do the same. Emphasize the exciting aspects of the new home, such as the chance for new adventures, the opportunity to make new friends and the chance to explore a different environment. Above all, remember that positivity can be contagious – but so can negativity, so watch how you express yourself when the frustrations with your move hit.
Explore the New Neighborhood Together
Everybody feels more comfortable in familiar surroundings, and your kids are no exception, so
get out and explore the new neighborhood together.
As soon as possible, take some family walks or bike rides around the area until you start to feel comfortable with the parks, schools and other places of interest. This will not only familiarize your children with their new environment but also create a sense of adventure and excitement about the move.
If possible, find a neighborhood spot where you and the kids can enjoy a special moment together as you celebrate a successful moving day. Going for pizza or ice cream in a local place, for example, can be a neat way to start building new traditions centered around your new location.
Moving to a new home is a significant life change for your family, and helping your kids adjust to their new environment is all part of an ongoing process. By communicating openly, maintaining routines, and providing the right emotional support for your children, you can make the transition smoother. Remember that each child is unique, and the time it takes for them to fully adjust may vary. With patience, understanding and a positive attitude, your kids will eventually come to love their new home.