Moving is a very exciting prospect and a part of life that either scares people, excites people, or fills them with both emotions simultaneously. Moving with children does not have to be all that complicated or dramatic with a little bit of creativity and good communication.
Children who have lived in one place for all of their lives identify their homes as part of their measure of safety. This is true whether you live in a million dollar up-do or the local trailer park, a child simply needs a sense of home. Whether moving across town or across an ocean, good communication can help you address your child’s fears and make moving easier for them. The one thing that children are usually most concerned with is usually something that we as adults take for granted. Can their dog come? Will Santa Claus still be able to find them? Will the new house have a good bathtub? These fears are more likely to arise out of a sense of other adult addressed fears, but are not always expressed. There are the typical fears adults are on top of such as leaving friends behind and moving away from everything they know. Children tend to focus themselves on obscure fears, and yet are amazingly adaptable at the same time.
Moving across town means that their friends, and even sometimes their school will remain the same, and thus adults tend to believe children don’t have anything to be really concerned about. But when you look at it from their perspective, it doesn’t matter how close or how far, it is still an exciting yet scary proposition for them.
Children simply want to feel secure. One of the best ways to help them feel secure is to check in with them often, asking them if they have any questions, and reminding them that no question they may have is silly. This also means you should resist the urge to laugh when they ask a question that is adorably naive. By allowing them some time every day to ask any questions they may have thought of, you are simply letting them know that they are not in a place where they need to deal with their concerns on their own, and that you do know what you’re doing.
Sometimes you won’t have an answer, and it’s okay to explain that you won’t know that until you get there. Making a list of questions that you aren’t readily sure of to find out about either online (if possible) or once you’re there can help you keep your promises about finding answers amidst the chaos of a move.
Moving is stressful on adults. The more stressed out you are, the more stressed out your child is likely to be. Try to relax as much as possible and have some fun even during the moving madness. Play a game of box basketball when you and your child are packing things which can be tossed like stuffed animals. Always leave one special guy out of the box to do the move with your child. If it’s a long drive to your new home, stop at a playground along the way, or better yet, a new playground in their new neighborhood, if that is at all possible. it’s always better if the child can see the house before moving day, whether in person or via photographs or an online listing. Having them pack 5 or 6 boxes they are able to lift gives them a hand in the important move both in the old house, and in the new house, without overwhelming them with having to help too much. Giving them age appropriate chores to do while they are helping with the move can really help them be part of the process.
Allowing them a few small requests that are feasible can really make a moving with children much easier, such as placement of the bed or a special little gift or even picking out which bedroom they want. The one thing they will rely on from the time you tell them you’re moving until the new home becomes home is parents who are calm, easy going, and can treat the prospect of moving more like an adventure than a chore. Kids are masters at reading these things, and masters at duplicating the feelings exhibited by their family members.
When moving also comes with a big change or a loss, such as divorce, after a parent has died, or even having to find a new home for the family cat or moving means that Mom is going back to work instead of staying home, children need extra attention and extra reassurance that everything is going to be okay and that they have a place in the home.
Kids can be remarkably adaptable when their needs are met. Meeting their needs requires a little bit of communication and some creativity, but it certainly can be done even with the chaos of moving. The more readily adaptable their parents are, the more readily adaptable a child is likely to be. Moving with children doesn’t have to be a nightmare.