How to… Prepare your children for moving home

Grand design style house
This is a guest post from Chelsea Thomas;

Moving home is stressful! You start by getting all those niggly DIY tasks finished off, maybe treat your home to a lick of paint for its new owners to repaint as soon as they move in, you compare estate agents and find the best agent to sell your home, you view new homes to move into and finally settle on the perfect one. You deal with estate agents, chase conveyancers and fill out tons of paperwork… you book your removals company & pack your treasured possessions into boxes and finally, after what seems like a lifetime, you will get to moving day.

But imagine that process through the eyes of a child – and how it may feel for them moving home, leaving all that they know behind.

Some children respond very well to moving – excited about the prospect of a new home to explore and the adventures to be had, whereas other children find it very difficult to adjust to their new surroundings. Preparing your child(ren) is an important aspect of moving home, and something which can easily be missed in the hustle and bustle of moving. Here, the GetAgent team share some key tools you can use to help prepare your little ones for moving day…

Involve the children & discuss

Before you start the process of moving home, involve your little ones (and even your big ones!) in the decision. Although it will not be their decision ultimately and you will probably face protesting over leaving their home, school and friends behind, you can give them a sense of control in the decision. With older children, allow them to view houses with you – sharing their ideas on what is good about each house. Once you have settled on a place (and had an offer accepted) Visit the house you will buy prior to moving in as a family. Use this time to discuss their likes, share your own positive thoughts and discuss plans that you can make as a family for the new house; Where shall we put the TV? Do you think the dog will like the garden?

Avoid taking young children to lots of house viewings as this can not only be difficult for them to understand, but create confusion about which home will be theirs. For younger ones, spend time discussing what it means to sell a house, prepare them for what will happen when it comes to packing the house up and reassure them that all the family possessions will arrive at the new house. Discussion opens grounds for children to voice concerns, and for your to model calm energy towards moving.

Visit the new area

If you have a spare afternoon, visit the new house and look at it from outside. You can make this into a spontaneous idea; “Hey, shall we go see the new house?!”, rallying up the children and get their excitement levels going… Explore the local area by car, pointing out fun places, such as the park, local leisure centre or cupcake shop, that you can visit when you move in.

This allows children to actually picture themselves in their new environment, developing positive connotations and creating plans, past the house move, to look forward to. These plans can help children focus on the future, rather than the pressure and stress a house move is causing.

Provide Choices

Just before you pack your home up, spend time with your child designing their new room. What colour would they like to paint it? Which room would they choose if they have the choice? What theme will they choose? To build the excitement, visit the shops a couple of days before moving & let them buy a new duvet cover, pillows, pictures or wall stickers and light for their room before helping them pack this into a box with their name on it. When arriving at their new room, let them unpack their new items to make the room feel like theirs.

Building excitement allows children room for creating positivity instead of negative associations with moving home. Additionally, giving them choices provides a sense of control in a scenario where they have very little control in what happens.

Pack a Special Box

Whilst you are busy packing up your home, your children will no doubt be under your feet or ‘trying to help’. Seeing possessions be taken out of their rightful place can be stressful for some children. With this in mind, it’s important for them to know that their special items will not go into storage or be lost in transition.

Allow them to decorate their own box with felt tips & stickers, making it unique and noticeable (this will also keep them busy for at least 10 minutes!). In this box they can pack their important items; special memory box, a few choice toys, special blanket, favorite book etc. Also allow them to choose PJ’s for the first night in their new home, clothes for the next day so everything they may need, is all in one place.

Ensure this box travels with your children in the car, and is one of the first boxes to be taken out and into their new room giving them a sense of control over their items and familiarity.

Signs of stress

  • Modified behaviour: thumb sucking, wetting the bed, wetting themselves, ‘acting out’ or feeling insecure to be left alone. Additionally reduction in food consumption, or reduction or increase in sleep can be signs of stress.
  • Modified Language: regression language such a baby talk, being overly quiet or speaking with a different accent.
  • Modified mood: withdrawal from activities which they used to enjoy, ‘going off’ favourite toys or friends, seeming fearful in situations they are usually fine within.

Stress comes in lots of shapes and forms for children, and it’s important for us as parents to identify and deal with it quickly. With preparation, discussion, plans and support, children will quickly settle into their new home… If you are at all worried about your child, please do seek the advice from your GP.

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