We’re moving apartments this week (cue doomsday soundtrack). In between packing boxes and ignoring the dust that accumulated in the darkest of corners, I wondered how anyone could do this with children underfoot. Then I remembered some of the things my own mother assigned me and my brother when we moved during my childhood (e.g. I was in charge of a box for my books, a large garbage bag for all my stuffed toys, etc.).
Preparing children and teens for a move should take place long before moving day because children benefit from routines and a move is a disruption to their lives. If there’s been another recent disruption (death, divorce, etc.) in the family, children may become emotionally overwhelmed. Consider this when deciding on a timeframe for the move.
Talk about the move long before pulling out boxes and bags. There are several children’s books available about moving. Parents can read these with their child and talk about the things they can expect in the coming days and weeks. Some of these books are listed below. Alternatively, parents can create a book with a young child, using nothing more than some pieces of paper and writing materials. You can include what the child liked and did not like about the current home, and how things may or may not change with the move. With teens, this discussion should also take place. Parents should be mindful to remain open to questions and concerns their children may have, particularly if there will be a change in schools, or significant distance from close friends.
In order to prepare for moving day, here are some tips:
- Set expectations so children will know what their roles and responsibilities will be during the move. Ensure these are realistic for the child.
- For young children, assure them that their toys aren’t being thrown away, and that they’ll be there at the new house.
- Consider walking through the house with your child to “say goodbye”.
- Having a babysitter or family member to help attend to the children on moving day may relieve you of some of the stress.
- Maintain your children’s schedule as much as possible to minimize distress.
If you’ve moved, please share what tips and tricks you used in making the transition with your children in the comments below.
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