Moving can be stressful for anyone, especially when you have so many boxes and logistics to consider. And moving can get even more complicated when you have to prepare kids for the transition. Whether you’re moving across town or moving to Chicago, New York, the tips for moving with kids will be pretty much the same.
Nobody really knows how to comfort a child because it is different for each one. Sometimes, the separation can be so strong that only the time will help, since it is very little that we can do.
But, most of the time, you can do many things to ease their stress. Firstly as you are just getting ready to move, start talking to them about it, so they understand what is happening.
Here are Five Tips that will hopefully help:
1. Start preparing them in advance
You can help the transition by reading books or watching shows about other kids moving to a new home. Because you want your son or daughter to feel more in control, start a scrapbook project about the new place. Clip pictures about the new town as well. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just some pictures you’ve taken or found on the internet. Talk to your children and paint a vivid picture of their new place. For example, if the new town has more fun activities, such as dancing clubs or soccer. Or maybe, she will get her own bathroom or a separate room she always wanted with the walls painted in her favorite color. The more you spend time encouraging your child’s participation, the easier it will be for her to visualize her new home.
2. Let them keep their things
No matter how much you want to get rid of the stuff, don’t pressure your child to make hard decisions about leaving his favorite objects behind. By all means, you can give your children a box for things they would like to donate. But don’t be annoyed if they aren’t emotionally ready to say goodbye to their stuff. Instead, let them keep as many of their favorite things as possible.
3. Be patient and answer their questions
Fear of the unknown is one of the most common causes of anxiety. Talk about your new town and answer any questions. Changes can be hard for children, so it’s essential to answer any questions they have honestly and without judgment. It may seem silly to you when they ask whether the TV will move to the new place too. But when you are five years old you just want to make sure that you won’t have to leave everything familiar and precious behind.
4. Show that you respect their feelings
If your child is over the moon about your new apartment, that is wonderful! Embrace their excitement and joy. Try not to complain in front of them about all the hard work that moving involves for you to make them happy. In fact, matching their enthusiasm with your own can create a deeper bond between you.
But when your child is miserable at the prospect of moving, it is a good idea to support her. After all, moving can be a significant change for a child that mimics the stages of grief. Sometimes, a child can experience anger and denial before the acceptance comes, and that’s okay. If your child is sad about saying goodbye to their old room, let them be sad and acknowledge that you understand their feelings.
Taking time to say goodbye to all of their favorite places, and every room may seem silly to you, but kids will appreciate the closure. You can also gain insight into their feelings during these goodbyes. When you find out they will miss the playground because of the twisty slide, it gives you insight into the things they’ll love in a new location.
5. Discover the Fun
A move to a new town can be quite an adjustment for everyone. Children can become disenchanted with their new surroundings if they spend too much time comparing. Don’t dwell on what you have left behind, steer their focus towards the new fun places a new town has to offer.
Let your daughter (or son) decide on the best pizza place in town, the best ice-cream place, and the best bakery. Write down those names and display them.
Is your new apartment close to a fun playground? Highlighting all the exciting areas that are close by can help to make transition more fun instead of something they dread.
6. Unpack Their Room As Soon as Possible
Label the kid’s room boxes with bright colors and be sure they are brought in right away. Setting up kids’ rooms will make it easier for both of you. Make them participate and have a say about where things go in their rooms. This way, they will feel included and helpful.
Once their furniture is in place, they can start opening boxes and rediscovering their toys and clothes. Even if it’s only been a few hours, children love to be reunited with their toys and gadgets.
Letting their room be the first room also gives them a safe haven, a comfort blanky if you will. Needless to say, having a safe, calm space can keep your child from breaking down during the first few days of the move.
7. Sleep Routine and Bedding
After a long day of moving, you will be looking forward to a restful night’s sleep. But apparently, that doesn’t mean your kids will be on the same page with you. The first night in a new room can be overwhelming for them and maybe even a little scary, depending on their ages.
Even if the temptation is there, don’t wash kids’ bedding from your previous home right away. Similar to the way babies can sleep better when they recognize the scent of their mothers, so is the familiar smell of home that will comfort a child into sleep.
After a few days, when you’ve unpacked more and are more alert, you can go ahead and change out their bedding and get it clean.
Of course, keeping a child’s bedtime routine consistent and healthy helps a good night’s sleep. It will reinforce to them that this new apartment is home, not a fun adventure in a hotel or a sleepover at Grandma’s.
By all means, if your child is used to white noise and a nightlight, you will want to have those handy. But even if they’ve never needed a nightlight before, you may want to have one ready. After they finally become more used to their new surroundings, you’ll decide to keep them or not.
Moving to a new apartment is stressful, but it certainly needn’t become a total disaster for you and your child. Hopefully, the above tips for moving with kids will help you reduce stress.
Taking time before, during, and after your move to talk with your child is a great way to make sure that he is dealing with the situation without severe emotional distress. It won’t be long until your new apartment feels exactly like home!