Moving. It should be a four-letter word, don’t you think? Maybe you haven’t moved much in your life, and perhaps the idea of moving to a new and exciting place sounds thrilling to you–ahh, the bliss of innocence. Take it from those of us who have packed and unpacked an entire household of belongings at least once in our lives: It’s a bugger. Factoid: Depending on a person’s personality, the trauma of moving can affect some people in the same way losing a loved one can.
And as if moving isn’t hard enough for just one person, if you have a child or children to move, the frustration, anxiety, the work, and the stress quickly multiply to create an incredibly complicated and daunting hot mess. But never fear, because those of us who know the ropes have some great advice for you newbies:
Let children in on the process:
- As soon as possible, let children know you’re planning to move, preferably with some advance
notice to allow for processing.
- Give children a chance to talk about the move as much as they care to, and to even vent a bit
if they’re frustrated about it. For children who don’t talk much but tend to use other healthy outlets for expression, such as art, sports or music, give them plenty of time and space to express their feelings about the move in these ways.
- For children having trouble adjusting and communicating positively about it, you might want to consult a counselor to help your child deal with the trauma of moving.
- If possible, visit the area where you plan to move and invite children’s input while choosing a place to live. This is also a great way to familiarize children with the neighborhoods, parks, schools, and other features of the area. If you’re moving far away, no doubt you’ll be able to find plenty on the Internet to give you a mental picture of the area, and available housing, as well.
- If children want to help with packing, let them do so. On the flip side, if packing is too traumatic for them, it’s not a good idea to push them.
Preserve normalcy as much as possible:
- Packing and preparing to move might take up a lot of your spare time, but try to keep daily
routines with children as regular as you can to reduce added stress.
- Even if you’re downsizing, allow children to keep the things that are important to them and that
will help them to feel “normal” in the new home, even if it means getting rid of some of your
own favorite things or storing them for a while.
- If you can, wait to pack up children’s rooms last, or do it gradually, leaving the things that
matter most to them unpacked until it’s time to leave.
- Mark boxes with special items very clearly, and show children which boxes contain their prized
possessions. If you’re shipping items to the new location, you might want to insure these
precious items in case–heaven forbid–they need to be replaced.
- Whether you’re flying, taking the train, going by ship, or driving to your new location, make
sure children have a few familiar things with them for comfort while traveling.
Reduce additional tress factors:
- Children seem to have radar that reads adult emotions like a book, and if you’re stressed out, they’ll likely follow suit. So try to keep calm!
- Don’t leave important decisions until the last minute, such as housing, schools, day care, renting any storage units you may need, hiring a moving company, or arranging to clean your home after you move. Take the time to inquire about these factors well in advance and make the most informed choices possible.
- Pack up your home at a steady pace and keep organizing as you go. Label boxes well so you can get back into one if necessary, and so you can find things easily once you’re in your new place.
- If you’re moving things yourself, arrange for younger children to stay somewhere fun and familiar while you’re moving things out of the old place and into the new one.