Moving homes is a long, complicated and stressful process for most families. Relocating is often complicated by buyers who fail to get mortgages or sell their property, packing and psychologically preparing the children for change. Just like adults who invested time, effort and money, children are emotionally attached to their house. Its where their friends live, where they are so used to play. Children may feel powerless when relocating – its a decision made entirely by their parents. While kids shouldn’t really be involved in the process of choosing and buying a new house, they should be allowed to choose where small furniture looks best and colours and decorations for their own rooms. Making little people feel empowered is important – cultivate the feeling that their opinions matter so that they’re not afraid to speak up later in life and grow up to become confident adults.
Tell your children you are moving as soon as possible
If you are moving houses with children, tell your kids as soon as possible. This way your they will have time to get used to the idea and be positively excited about it. They will have the opportunity to say goodbye to their old friends, teachers and neighbours and anticipate their new adventures. Talk about your new home and discuss the positive outcomes of having it – new friends, being closer to nice parks and going to a better school. If your child is old enough to understand, explain your reasons for moving homes – a safer neighbourhood, a better house closer to your job, meaning you will have more time to spend with your children. Explain what will remain the same after the move – how all furniture, toys, clothes and pets are coming to your new home. Make sure your child understands exactly what will happen, where and why you are going to your new house.
You can further prepare your children by exploring the neighbourhood or town of where you will be moving. Do some research and take them to the fun places – they will be looking forward to going back to a place where they had a great time. If possible, show your children their new home and help them visualise their belongings in their new rooms. Give them the chance to add their touch – ask for their opinion on your redecorating ideas and allow them to co-create with you. “I think the main thing that makes our children enjoy moving home is that we involve them right from the beginning. We take them to the houses we are considering, asking them what they think, and we always continue to talk a lot about the move, encouraging them to air about any concerns they might have.” suggests huffingtonpost.
Involve the children in the process as much as possible
If possible, leave your children to family or friends when moving houses – you will inevitably be more frustrated than usual and your mood may transfer onto your children. If there is no one to look after them, engage your kids in the process as much as possible. Assign responsibilities suitable for your child’s age and allow the kids to pack their belongings and help you label the boxes. They will feel useful and will not be running around when moving larger objects. Pack and load their things last – this way you can unload your children’s belongings first, giving them enough time to unpack their toys, books and clothes. Sort out the children’s rooms first, so that your kids can feel home as quickly as possible. While your children are occupied with their belongings in your new home, you can sort out the rest of the house.
Beware of signs of stress
Moving houses is one of the most stressful experiences we go through in our lives. Children may not be able to communicate their fears like adults, but stress can surely affect their behaviour. Every child is different and reacts to new environment in its own way. After being exposed to stress or experiencing some trauma, some children become very shy and quiet, while others become angry and violent. Depression or anxiety are not uncommon when children relocate – monitor your children’s eating and sleeping patterns and health condition – headaches, mood swings and changes in eating and sleeping habits may be a sign that your child is unhappy in your new home. No matter how well you prepared your child for the moving, some losses can not be compensated – losing valuable friends and teachers or caregivers they are so used to. Sadness and grief are common emotions children experience when relocating – although their favourite teacher or babysitter isn’t dead, they still experience their loss. You may need to make a few compromises to compensate for what your child is lacking in its new house. If they have been begging for a pet for long, you may want to consider getting one. Just please remember that pets are family forever – taking one just to ease your child and then dumping it in a shelter is cruel and will not teach your child virtues. If within a few months your child hasn’t fully accommodated to your new home, you may need to consult a psychologist. Moving can be a positive experience for your child – think about all the benefits that come with selling your home and moving to a new place. The new neighbourhood, city or country may have some excellent opportunities for your child – a better school, a safe neighbourhood, chance to learn new skills, spending more time with relatives and family and making new friends. Children with outgoing personalities can flourish and thrive in a new environment. Each new opportunity allows your children to undertake a new activity or alter their habits. People tend to be more open to new ideas when undergoing major personal changes such as relocation, so now is a good time to adapt them to new, better habits.
Stick to routine as much as possible – this will help your kids feel home sooner. If your child is young you may experience the ‘I want to go home’ tantrum – it is very common and the best way to deal with it is to explain with positive attitude that you already are home. Your child mirrors your attitudes and habits and looks for clues on what’s next. If parents are being dramatic and sad, your child will focus on the negatives of living in its new home. Help your kids make new friends – practice conversations with other children at home. Organise play days with other parents in the neighbourhood. Play days are an excellent opportunity for you and your child to make friends. One-on-one socialising work very well for all children. Why not invite the mum next door over a cup of coffee while your children learn how to play?
By Kristiana Georgieva