Moving with Children

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General Moving

Making a move requires patience and planning.  Between deciding to move, finding a home, and packing and unpacking boxes, everyone gets a little frazzled.  The many moving parts can be stressful, and when you add children into the mix you just pile on more strain.  Depending upon the age of the child, you will be met with different challenges.  Small children may be confused by all the hustle and bustle and not understand why they have to pack up their toys instead of leaving them strewn about like usual.  Older children might not be happy with the decision and refuse to accept that they have to leave or act out.  Regardless of the age of your child or children, taking the time to prepare yourself and them for the move will be important.

Baby or Toddler

Moving with a baby or toddler has its pros and cons.  One advantage to moving with small children is that they will not fully grasp what is going on.  Your perceptive little one will notice that there is some extra hustle and bustle, but they will not argue with you about moving to a new house.  As long as they are with you, they will be content.  However, while they may not feel the stress of relocating like older children, they will be able to pick up on your emotions.  If they sense panic or extreme stress in you, they may act out or become upset they will be left behind.  As hard as it may be, try your best to remain calm, especially around your child.  It can also be beneficial to talk to them about what is going on.  Talking to them will give them the sense that this isn’t bad and it may help you to talk through the process as well.  As you prepare to move, do not be afraid to ask friends and family for help either.  Whether that involves packing, watching your kiddos, or maybe just being an emotional support, getting help during the moving process will help you stay calm and on schedule.  It will be important to keep your baby or toddle on their own routine as much as possible too.  Come moving day, it might not be possible to completely stick to your child’s normal schedule, but making sure to try and fit in a nap and feed them around their normal feeding times will be important.  Whether you are traveling to your new home by car or by plane, you will not want your child to be fussy because they are hungry or tired.  In the excitement, your child might not want to nap or might be irritable because they sense something is different.  This can be a challenge, but try to remain calm and do your best to soothe your child.  You should pack a box or bag with the essentials you’ll need on moving day.  A few favorite toys or blankets can be calming and can distract your child while you travel.  Having snacks, diapers, and some extra changes of clothes will be important too.  If there are any medications your child needs you will also want to keep those on hand and easy to get at.

Once you have arrived at your new home, you will want your child to be able to explore and take in their new surroundings.  Before they can begin this adventure though, you must baby proof your home.  Make sure you bring gates, outlet covers, and tools to set up your child’s nursery properly.  Setting up your child’s room should be a priority.  Having them sleeping in their crib and being changed on a changing table are things they are used to and will help them to adjust.  Bringing out their toys and blankets will give them something familiar in this new environment which will also keep them at ease.  You may find that your child will act differently at first.  They may seem off or not as hungry.  It might just be their way of taking everything in and settling down.  Do not be alarmed if your child needs a day or two to adjust.  Of course if the odd behavior persists or if you are concerned, consult your pediatrician.  Above all, make sure you spend some time with your baby or toddler.  What they crave most is love and attention, and as long as they receive that, they will not care what house they are in.

Preschool and School Age Children

As your children get older they are able to understand more of what is going on and will be more curious than a toddler.  It will be important for you to talk to them about the upcoming move and allow your child to ask questions.  If you are moving locally, it may be a good idea to drive your child to the house and show them where they are going to live.  This can get them excited for the upcoming adventure, as well as make them feel more comfortable when moving day comes.  If you are moving further away, pulling up photos online or on a camera of the house and neighborhood will give them some context to where they are moving.  These older children may be able to help with some of the packing too.  They might even jump at the chance to help with the “adult” jobs.  However, it will be important to make sure that you have some help on hand both when packing and on moving day.  As much as they want to be your little helper, you do not want your child to hinder the process or get hurt while bigger items and furniture are being loaded and unloaded.

Your child is becoming more independent as they enter school.  Talking to them about how the new house will be decorated or letting them pick a paint color can help them feel included.  If you are moving far enough that your child will switch schools, it will be important to explain this to them as well.  Talking to them about what extracurricular activities they want to participate in can help them to have a say in their changing world.  Once you reach your new destination, you will want to make sure that your child is adjusting.  Ask how they like their room and new school.  Spend some time answering any questions they have or help them work through any problems they are encountering in their adjustment.

Teenager and Older Children

Moving for older children can be difficult.  Once they are old enough to understand what is happening, they may be fearful of the unknown.  They may be attached to your current home and their current room and not want to leave.  If a move is a further distance, the thought of leaving friends or starting at a new school is scary.  It will be important for you to listen to them and prepare yourself for some push back.  While some teens may be excited to upgrade to a new house or be able to explore a new city, others will be furious and not want to leave.  Explain that this decision will be best for the whole family, and that while there will be a period of adjustment, you will get through it as a family.  Make  sure that you speak to them as adults, not children, and try to reason with them.  Remind yourself that a move is perhaps most challenging on a teenager, and allow them to vent and maybe even slam a few doors.  Allowing them to work through their emotions and come around in their own will be best for both you and your child.  Informing your teenager as soon as possible that they will be moving will also give them time to come to terms with the idea of moving.  It can be beneficial to get your older children involved in the move.  For starters, older children can assist in the packing process which can be a time saver for you.  While most teenagers won’t like having to pack, it is an important process for them too.  You can go through with them what they want to bring versus what to get rid of.  You can explain that this decision process will help free up space in your child’s new room for new items.  Maybe you will want to get new furniture in your child’s room in the new home.  Older children should be involved in this process so they feel comfortable when they arrive.  Being able to choose their room, the color, and the furniture that will go into it will help make it their space and a place they want to be.  If you can, bringing your teenager to some open houses can help them voice their input.

Once you get to your new house, help your child unpack if they want, or if they need their space give it to them.  Let your teenager adjust in their own way and offer support wherever needed.  Planning things to do in your new community can help your son or daughter adjust.  If you are making a long distance move, you could plan a trip with your child to your old city so they can see new friends.  Helping them not feel cut off from their social network can help them acclimate.  As with children of all ages, the best way to help your child is to let them know that you love them and are willing to help them adjust in any way.

 

Moving is stressful.  While you deal with the logistics of moving, your children will have to face the change they are experiencing and the stress that comes along with that too.  As with the entire moving process, it will be important to remain patient.  Regardless of how old or young your child or children are, they will need to adjust to their new home just like you.  Like other challenges you face as a parent, remaining loving and supportive of your children during their adjustment will help them to feel safe and at home because they are with you.

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