Moving with kids
In our experience, both babies and children can become quite anxious when they realize they are moving. Babies instinctively seem to know that their once albeit short-lived daily routine is about to be disrupted while a lot of children when they see all their familiar things being packed up can get agitated and worried about the future. Older kids by the same token find the upheaval all the more taxing if they are moving long distances and have to change schools and find new friends.
Leading child psychologists have long identified ‘moving house’ as an event that creates significant stress in children. There have also been publications in medical journals supporting links between stress and childhood illnesses, with ‘moving house’ being high on the list as a major stressful life event.
To help alleviate this stress here are some tips that can help minimize this potentially life-changing event.
Talk about it
• Have honest, open discussions. No one likes surprises (especially teenagers) so make sure everyone knows what is going to happen and when.
• Involve kids in the moving process from the outset – take them along when you’re searching for a new home.
• Be positive. Encourage them to be excited about their new home and potential new lifestyle. Reassure them about the change – Let them know that they’ll be able to keep in contact with important family members and friends
• Keep calm – if you stress openly the kids will pick up on it and may become fractious.
• Help teenagers stay connected – arrange for them to get together with friends before the move, and encourage them to invite friends to visit them at the new home.
Get them familiar with their new home
• If possible, take them on trips to your new suburb and explore the parks, playgrounds and shops together. This will reduce their anxiety levels and give them a sense of excitement.
• Let them participate in how their room will look. Possibly let them choose the layout, the colour scheme or the furnishings – they could even make a project of it and check it out online!
Pack up their own special bag
• Just before you move, get each child to pack an overnight bag with their most treasured possessions — stuff they’ll want to have as soon as they get there. Having access to these things, will allow them to feel at home more quickly.
• Include stuff they’ll need the first night, such as a special doona cover, pillow, pyjamas, toothbrush, change of clothes for the next day and the all important favourite toy or teddy.
When it comes to moving day …
• Plan everything in advance – make sure that the kids know what’s going to happen and when, and how they’re expected to help
• Smaller kids are much safer out of the way of the removalists who will be negotiating doorways and corridors while carrying large furniture and not looking below their knees.• Recruit friends and family members to keep an eye on the kids if they can’t take them off your hands completely
• Prepare snack packs for the kids. Most of the food will already be packed in boxes and it may take a while to be unpacked. Small snacks will help stave off the hunger pangs!
• Try to inject some fun into the move – create a fun-pack for each child to keep them busy and out of your way. This could include picture or activity books, puzzles, electronic games etc.
When it comes to unpacking …
• We make it a priority to have their room set up. This includes making the bed, arranging all their toys and hanging and folding their clothes to make a real impact when they first walk-in from school or day care. Kids can be a little bewildered with it all and babies need sleep time, so it’s important to get their beds set up first to help them get back into their routine as soon as possible.
• Some teenagers like to pack their precious things themselves and it helps them feel part of the process. These things can include their computer, mobile phone, musical instruments etc. And it’s a good idea to ensure that they’ve have all their school books and and uniforms handy, especially if they’re moving during the week.
• We always advise removalist and clients alike that if possible all kitchen and bedroom boxes be loaded on the truck last. This way they are first off at the new home and we can utilise those initial first hours in setting up the kitchen and kids bedrooms. Ultimately the family can eat and sleep that first night and the remainder can be unpacked the following day.
Be flexible and try to understand things from the kid’s perspective. They may be stressed and a little upset about leaving their old home and friends.
And even if everything doesn’t quite go to plan – ultimately with some careful preparation and a little professional support, we will do our best to make sure most family moves go smoothly.