Advice for moving with anxious children(11 Posts)
We are (fingers crossed) going to be moving house in just over two weeks time. My ds is 6 and dd is 4 years old and both are quite anxious about moving, particularly ds. We are moving within the same village so not changing schools or leaving friends. We have chosen paint colours for their new bedrooms with them which they've tried out on bits of card, but does anyone else have any suggestions of things you can do to help children feel better about moving?
My dd is anxious about change and was very upset at the thought of our recent move. From previous experience I knew that there were a few things which would help:
- leave packing their room for as long as possible
- arrange for them to stay overnight somewhere if possible on the moving day
- prioritise unpacking and sorting their room once in
- hold a carrot for them - in my case it was a new bed but letting her choose new bedding would have been exciting too. Just save it for the first night!
I once moved and thought the children would find it fun to get involved - big mistake! It was a nightmare and they all ended up stressed. This time we sent them to stay with nanny and when they came back after school the next day they loved running in and exploring new rooms which were all ready and set up. They they played while we sorted the rest of the house!
Even a relatively small move can be difficult for young children.
caramel makes some excellent points.
I would agree that it's best to explain clearly what's happening but keep them out of the actual process. On the day itself, can a family member take them to soft play/the cinema etc? Then when they get to the new house, order a takeaway they like and have a "picnic"
Definitely get their rooms unpacked first.
Make sure their teachers know they are moving, so they can look out for tears. My DS gets very fussy about food when he's anxious so if the school knows to anticipate this, they can deal with it in a very matter of fact way.
You could consider making a memory box for the old house.
Focus on the positives but expect some tantrums...along the lines of I hate this house I want to go back to our old house I don't care if the Jones family live in it now... This will pass
Praise them for being brave and sensible.
Kids are adaptable and resilient, they'll be fine
Oh and have a nice bottle of gin/wine ready for yourself
We relocated back to the UK last summer with our then 3.5 yr old. We made a moving book for her, which included:
- a calendar countdown to moving day that we crossed off each day;
- photos of where we lived before;
- photos of the new house;
- stuff to do with flying back.
We also bought an Usborne first experiences book about moving house, which explains the process.
If you're moving within the village it should be less of a big deal. I would make sure they know when they'll be moving and what it will be like (e.g. Packing process, you'll be very busy). Also talk about the benefits of moving e.g. Bigger rooms, garden etc. If you can get somebody else (e.g. Grandparents) to be around when you're packing and unpacking that would be helpful. I would prioritise their rooms being unpacked and made nice. Also make sure they get to say goodbye to the old house. Good luck!
I moved with DS at a similar age (although we moved miles). He stayed with grandparents for two days so by the time he arrived, the house was (almost) ready to live in. I prioritised getting his room ready and putting all his familiar stuff in there. I also bought him a new wooden name plate for his door.
Just to check that they realise that all their stuff comes with and you are moving too?
We are not born knowing these things!
If possible, don't let them see you packing up their rooms. Ask a relative to have them on moving day, put their beds / drawers / bedroom furniture onto the moving lorry last so they're first off at new house allowing you to get their rooms "sorted" first. Dont worry about decorating at first, just try to re-create their bedrooms as far as you can (the same duvet / curtains etc if you can). Put their bedding / favourite things in your car so its immediately accessible. Walk from new house to friends / shop / school so they know how close it is. Play hide & seek as a family (each parent with a child) so they get to explore the house but with an adult by their side. Arrange a play date at your new house with their little friends and allow them to have a little tea party in their rooms.
And be 110% positive about it - all the new adventures you can have / bigger garden / space for family movie nights (bigging up whatever feature the new house has over the old house).
DD1 was like this - she's a bit older (9). Agree that if possible (eg childcare) it's best for them to not be around during the immediate move, all the mess, not being able to find things, likely arguments etc!
Careful and well labelled packing to minimise stuff they care about or need getting lost.
I took her to look round alone on the day we moved back in - she cried! Gave her some time to take in the change.
We found allowing Dd to moan a bit, eg say negative things to us and relatives about the new place, helped her. 3 months in she begrudgingly admits she likes the new place and can see its benefits (bigger room etc) but still misses her old room.
She did play up a bit and say she didn't like the new paint she'd chosen and wanted to swop rooms with her sibling, so had to be a bit firm there!
Yes - assure them that all your/their furniture and belongings were coming with them. We moved a few years back when DDs were 3 and 6 and they both got quite worried and didn't want to move no matter how exciting I said it was. Turned out they didn't know all our stuff comes with us!! So I carefully explained the whole packing/moving/unpacking process and they were much more happy with it. Also do try and keep them out of then way on the day. It is a busy and stressful day so you will have less patience with them. Then, as others said, concentrate on getting their rooms sorted first.
Thank you for all your replies. The removal company are also doing our packing so luckily everything can be left as normal until the day before we move. The dc will be at school while the packers are here and also on moving day so that should help. We are definitely planning on doing their rooms first. We were hoping to have moved last Friday and it keeps getting delayed which is frustrating for me and I don't think it's helping the dc either, I just want to get on with it!
Just marking this thread. I'm reading with interest as we are moving this month and I have not really prepared ds(4 )for it. We had a vendor pull out in the week we were due to complete previously so i don't believe it's happening till it has happened! Luckily we are not going at all far, but I've no idea how he will take it...
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