Moving homes is stressful enough for adults, but add children to the mix and tension and problems can escalate. But with some advanced planning and forethought you can ease the transition from old to new. Here are my top 7 tips for before, during and after moving day to make it a smooth and successful one for the whole family.
Tell them in advance
This all depends on their ages and how well they can retain and digest the information, but in any event don’t wait until the last minute to tell them about the move. They may well have seen you packing or overheard conversations about it anyway so let them know as soon as it’s feasible and tell them what to expect. Answer any and all of their questions honestly and explain what will happen on moving day.
Give them something to do to help with the move. They could be in charge of packing up their own toys or the family’s books or DVD collections. Let them label and decorate the boxes or put together their own “Moving Day Survival Kit” with their favorite toys, snacks, drinks etc. Let them decide where things will go in their new rooms and plan the décor.
Visit the new area
Unless you’re moving some distance away visit the new area with them and let them explore. You could help them make a map of their new neighborhood with the schools, shops, library, etc. all marked out. If this isn’t practical then there’s always Google Earth!
Make a scrapbook
Give them a smartphone or cheap digital camera and let them fill a scrapbook with pictures of their friends, their school, their room, the garden, the street, etc. Include phone numbers and emails of friends so they can keep in touch. On the last page add a photo of their new house to remind them of the positive reasons for the change.
Make moving day an adventure
Whatever your reasons for moving it’s an upheaval so take the sting out of it by doing some things you wouldn’t normally do. Let them stay up a bit later than usual, order pizza for dinner, make a fort out of the empty packing boxes, or pack a “treasure box” with their favorite things.
Stick to routine
Moving is unsettling enough so in the days and weeks immediately after the move, try to stick to routine as much as possible. Regular family meals, movie nights or bedtime routines will provide a sense of continuity and reassurance that the new home functions in exactly the same way as the old.
You will no doubt get stressed out at some stage and kids pick up on these emotions. That can’t be helped, but by staying positive and taking time out to reassure them they’ll see that you’re coping and they’ll believe everything’s okay.