Moving with children
Preparing your children for the move
- Consider what time of the year you are moving and how that might impact your child’s routine. If you move during the summer, your child gets the benefit of a clear fresh start at the beginning of a new school year. Then again, if your child is separated from her friends for the summer, you may need to arrange activities so that she does not become depressed.
- Younger children learn by playing, so incorporate the move into playtime. Give the kids moving boxes to play with. Have them move their stuffed animals to another room for the day. Show them picture books of other children moving, and discuss how the people in the book might be feeling – but make sure the story ends on a cheerful note. If possible, plan a family visit to your new community before you move in. Taking your kids to the new city will make the move more tangible, and less of an unknown. Take the kids to the parks, schools, on drives around the neighbourhood and even the surrounding neighbourhoods. Even better, take the kids with you to visit their new school and the estate agent. If you have already bought a house and it is unoccupied, let the kids see where their new rooms will be. If your child can not visit the new community with you, take plenty of photographs or even record it on a camcorder. Record images of your new house: children’s bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living room, front garden, back garden. It is not possible to take too many pictures. Then go into the neighbourhood and photograph places of interest: schools, sports arenas, playgrounds, shops, restaurants, parks, and so on. Use your photos and videos to build up excitement. If your children are old enough, hold regular family meetings to discuss the move.
- As you get your children more involved in the process of moving, they will gradually adjust to the idea. Use your family meetings to discuss your children’s concerns and help them find proactive solutions. You can also use this time to delegate tasks and encourage participation. Think twice before you throw out old toys and baby clothes. It can be tempting to throw out your children’s old things. But be careful. Many families throw things away only to regret it later.
- Say goodbye to your old house. There is a number of ways for you and your children to say goodbye to the old house. You could make a scrapbook of photos taken in and around the house. You could have your children make a time capsule representing their time at the house, and bury it in the back garden. Or you could have a friend take a few photographs of the whole family standing in front of the house; frame the best photo; and hang it proudly in your new house. The most important thing is that you acknowledge how much the old house has meant to your children and your family.
- Help your children say goodbye to the people who are important to them. Older children can throw a goodbye party for their friends. Encourage them to hand out postcards with their new address and their email address. Help your younger children write goodbye cards to the people who have been significant in their lives: relatives, playmates, babysitters, their favourite waitress at a local family restaurant, the ice cream delivery woman, and so on.
- Let your children’s bedrooms be the last rooms you pack up. Preserve your children’s bedrooms as much as possible so that they will have a safe place to go if they feel sad or overwhelmed. Involve your children in the packing of their own bedrooms. Older children (ten years and over) should be able to pack their own bedrooms by themselves, with minimal supervision. Younger children can help you pack a few boxes of their favourite things. As you pack, remind your children that they will see the boxes again in their new home. Children of all ages will have fun decorating the moving boxes with stickers, glitter pens, and markers.
- Have your children create their own “survival kits” for the move. The survival kit, which can be a box, suitcase or maybe a rucksack, will come along with your child during the move. It should contain all of your child’s most treasured toys, magazines, stuffed animals, games, and so on. Check the survival kit before you go to make sure your child has not overlooked anything very important.