We all know that moving from one home to another can put added stress on us adults. Closing on the new home, hiring the best moving company, getting adequate time off from work…the whole thing can leave your nerves frayed and your emotions upended.
As emotional as you may feel about your move, imagine how much harder it is for children. Whether they are moving for the first time or the fifth, leaving the security of a well-known (and loved) space can fill kids with anxiety and cause them to act out in ways that may surprise…and often frustrate…already frazzled parents.
That’s why we wanted to share with you the top 5 ways you can help your child work through the stress of moving. Whether you’re moving to a new location in Sydney or making an interstate move, these tips will help you nurture your little loves through the moving process.
1. Tell them sooner than later.
Some parents make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to tell children about the move. And, while the logic behind the decision is understandable (avoid the fuss for as long as possible), doing so is ill-advised.
Children need time to process what’s about to happen, so as soon as you’ve made the decision to move you should share the news with your kids.
2. Be prepared for big emotions.
Parents are often surprised by how upset children become when a move is announced. But it’s important to understand that your home makes up a huge part of a child’s life. For many, this may be the only home they’ve known, so the idea of picking up and moving to parts unknown can cause children to act out.
Be prepared for anger, tears, denial, a flat-out refusal to come along with the rest of the family…or any combination of such emotions. It’s important to let your children get it all out, to acknowledge how they feel without dismissal. Avoid saying, “You’re being silly. It will be fine.” Instead, try this: “I can tell you are upset at the idea of moving and I’m sorry.” Later, you can begin sharing with your child some of the benefits of the new home (We’ll be closer to the zoo. Your new school is right around the corner. That donut place you like is nearby.)
3. Take them on a tour of the new house and neighborhood.
It may be easier on you and your kids if you keep them out of the house hunting experience. As difficult as moving may be for them, it will be even harder if they get their hopes up after touring a home with a pool only to have the deal fall through.
But once you’ve signed the paperwork on your new home, you can (and should) take them on a tour. Show them their new room and point out any perks (Look! You get your own bathroom here!). Dream with them about the fun you’ll have as a family in the new home.
But don’t stop there. Take them for a tour of the new neighborhood. Show them the park that is close by, the burger joint that everyone loves, and anything else that appeals to their interests.
4. Give them some control.
One of the hardest parts of moving for children is the feeling that they have no control over the situation—that they must move whether they like it or not.
Offset this feeling by giving them some control of their spaces in the new home. Let them have a say in the paint color of their room. Have them help you decide where the bed, dresser, and toys will go. If they have their own bathroom, let them pick out a fun shower curtain.
Allowing them to be in charge of their own space will help them get excited about the upcoming move.
5. Let them keep their clutter.
If you are a regular reader of our blog (thank you!), you know one of our top tips for prepping for a move is to clear out the clutter in your home before your move. But when it comes to your child’s toys and belongings, you may want to hold off on this step.
The moving process is already stressful for your child. If you force them to get rid of toys and games—yes, even those things they have clearly outgrown and never play with—it can add to their sadness and anxiety.
So, let them keep their stuff and plan to declutter it after the move.
As excited as you are about your upcoming move, it’s important to acknowledge the very real anxiety your children may be feeling. By honoring their emotions and nurturing them through the move, you’ll create a moving experience that honors the old while celebrating the new…and that’s a very good thing.