Moving house is often stressful for adults, but it is also stressful for the children of the family, especially if it involves a move to a new city, or even region / state.
Adults ‘understand’ why they are moving; sometimes children do not. Here are some ideas on making the move easier for youngsters.
All children do best with a routine, particularly babies. Try to keep a normal pattern during the moving process, such as napping and feeding. Once you arrive in your new home, set up baby’s nursery first and keep the layout as similar to the old house as possible.
Remember to use the same nap times, feeding times, bath times, and bed times along with towels, blankets, soft toys and try not to let your baby ‘experience’ too much of your stress. If the routine and set-up is the same, baby should do just fine!
Toddlers and younger children can be harder to manage because they might not understand why they are leaving the home they are used to and might feel anxiety about the change.
Young children have not mentally developed enough to understand future concepts, especially if there are no actual changes in the home. As the packing / moving day approaches, it can be useful to play-act the move with their toys to help the child understand what is about to happen.
While toddlers also do best with routine, being in a new house and home might lead to some ill-behavior and sleep problems. Be patient, understanding and loving, and as with babies, try to not let the child ‘experience’ too much of your stress. The expectation is that younger children adjust within 6 months.
For children aged 6-10 years old, they will understand what moving means and the hardest thing will be if they will be changing schools and/or leaving friends.
Some children will see it as an adventure, a positive experience; others might find it traumatizing and scary.
Spend time talking with your child about why you are moving. Be honest and help them understand. If possible, take your older child to look at properties and listen to their opinion. Also, talk about practicalities – how the move will happen, packing, whether there will be any nights in a hotel and so on.
Teenagers can also find moving difficult. Remember that teen years are full of emotions, hormones, often drama. If your teen has an established network of friends and has been with a particular school group all their life, changing can be very difficult.
Again, talk to your teen about the reason for the move, value their opinion on the new home, make them responsible for packing or clearing out their own belongings, and most importantly allow them to feel and be important in the process.
If the move involves a change of school, make sure your teen gets involved in new activities, for example, if s/he is a musician, have them sign up for band; if they enjoy sports, speak to the school about joining up. This serves two purposes 1. forces them to make new friends, 2. ensures they can still do activities they enjoy to help ease into the transition.
The final word – be mindful of your own stress. Whatever you’re feeling can feed over to your child. Keep the lines of communication open and try to stay patient. You’re a family – keep the love!