New year. New home. New beginnings. Now what?
It’s time to prepare for the move. You’ve signed the papers, put down the required home loan deposit, and there’s just one thing left to do.
Say goodbye to your family home.
Moving home is a stressful situation no matter what age or stage of life you’re at. Moving home with kids can add an extra layer of complexity to a situation that’s already sent everyone’s cortisol into overdrive.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed the effects of childhood moves don’t necessary subside once those children become adults. Researchers discovered this by following the moving patterns and well being of more than 7,100 adults over a 10-year period.
The overall verdict? Those who moved repetitively as children tended to have the lowest levels of well being as adults.
However, whether it’s for a job relocation or to upgrade your lifestyle, moving homes is one of those milestones in life that can’t be avoided.
But it doesn’t have to be catastrophic, either. With a little bit of forethought and a lot of patience, you’ll be able to make sure the move goes as smooth as possible.
- No surprises
If you’re reading this post before you’ve bought a home, discuss the move with your child today. Kids can be hypersensitive to big changes, so it makes sense to prepare them well in advance. Mention the new and exciting adventure you’re thinking of, and ask them what they think of it. If they object, ask them why, and validate their feelings. Kids want to feel safe and reassured, so give them time to process things as best as they can.
It’s all about how you frame the experience too. Highlight all the positives of your new home, like the new hiding places, swing sets nearby, etc.
If you’re reading this post after you’ve already bought the home, it’s not too late to start preparing them. If you can, take them along to the new house before you’ve settled in. That way, the new home won’t be so overwhelming on moving day because you’ve already established that familiarity.
- Stay positive
Kids are quite perceptive to the emotions of others around them. Because of this, any stress that you’re feeling is likely to rub off on them.
One study out of King’s College in London indicates that anxious parents consequently raise anxious children.
The easier way to deal with this? Make sure you take the steps to calm down too. Focus on the new beginnings, unpacking one room at a time, and be patient with yourself too. Kids looks to adults for emotional cues, so make sure your frame of mind is optimal as well.
- Let them cry
When someone close to you is upset, you want to do anything within your power to stop the emotional bleed-out. But sometimes the best path is the one of least resistance. That’s why it’s important to let your child grieve, within reason of course. If they can learn to process their emotions in a healthy way, the faster they’ll be able to come out the other side a much happier child. If they want to cry, let them. Just don’t throw them a pity party, and refer to the above point.
- Books to read
You know how all little girls wanted to dress up as Elsa when they saw Frozen? It’s proof that popular kid’s movies and books have the potential to dramtically effect their decisions. Why not help them adapt to the big move with a few books that help paint a rosier picture for them?
Here’s a short list of the most popular ones online:
- Boomer’s Big Day by Constance W. Mceorge Tells the story of moving day from a dog’s perspective. Spoiler alert – he ends up loving his new home and finds other dogs to play with.
- Moving House an Usborne First Experiences
A simple book about the Spark family’s big move. It gets into the time-consuming tasks of packing up and unpacking, and mentions all the new neighbours and friends to meet along the way.
- A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn
A simple how-to book for children to learn to let go, told from the heart-warming perspective of a very emotionally intelligent racoon.
- Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika and Christopher Denise
Follows the story of a little girl named Bella who is scared to move to a new house this isn’t anything like her old house. With the help of her imaginary elephant friend Stella, Bella learns to be brave and learns to like her new home.
- Augustine by Melanie Watt
The riveting story of a little penguin who moves from the South Pole to the North Pole and uses art to cope with her feelings and fears about living in a new place.
Just as I emphasise in every post, knowledge is power. The more you know and plan to counteract any obstacles, the better off the whole family will be. Another great place to start is by checking out resources which outline more complex ways to deal with child anxiety. Explore the list below to further help your child get ready for the move.