Like a security blanket, many children think of their home as a safe haven, a place where nothing can harm them. That’s why the thought of “leaving home” can be a scary unknown. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Understandably, planning and organizing the details of an upcoming move can be overwhelming and time consuming. More often than not, addressing your kids’ concerns and fears can get lost in the craziness of having to relocate.
Many times, young children have no concept about what it means to move. It’s important to take the time to explain why, where and when you are moving as soon as your plans are finalized. Tell your children all about the new neighborhood – all the great places they can play, their new school, and their new home. Show them pictures or videos of the area, and show them where they are going to be living on a map. If possible, take them with you during your house tours, plan a school visit and let them experience for themselves what they should expect. If they can’t travel with you, be sure to take many pictures of their new home, their school and the playgrounds and parks.
A “Positive” Experience
Although the many details that come with having to move can bring on stress and anxiety, if you’re excited and upbeat about moving, oftentimes your children will follow your lead and be excited themselves. If they do show concern or negative feelings, however, accept their feelings and address them honestly. It’s OK to let them know you have doubts too. Let them know you are taking care of everything to make sure the move will be great including finding them a great school with great teachers, where the local kids hang out, and a great house they are going to love living in. Let them pack a lot of their own stuff. Kids are very possessive with their belongings and like to know their important possessions are being packed. Even, young, “pre-schooled” kids can pack their “favorite” things in special boxes. Remind them that all of their belongings will be waiting for them in their new room. Talk about how they would like to decorate their new room, and when you arrive at the new house, spend some time together setting up their bedroom just the way they want.
Plan Your Good-Byes
Like all of us, saying your good-byes is an important step to having closure. Start taking a lot of photos and videos of your children’s friends, favorite places, other family members and of the home. Throw together a good-bye party, and let everyone know they are welcome to visit anytime they like. Then spend some time with your kids putting together a scrap book to save their memories, including addresses and phone numbers of their friends so they can contact them later. If possible, let them know you are planning a trip back to the old neighborhood to visit friends and family.
The New Neighborhood – Coming Home
When you first arrive at your new house, set up your kids rooms first. Open their boxes so they can see all of their personal belongings and begin to feel at home. Keep their schedules as normal as possible including meals and bed times. After school, take the time to talk about their day and new experiences. This will help them adjust to their new surroundings. To help them adapt faster, talk to the neighbors and seek out children they can meet. Consider signing them up in other activities like sports, clubs, community centers and religious activities to help them meet new friends. Children are more resilient than we give them credit for. And though it may seem like they are constantly angry and upset for having to move, eventually those feelings will disappear as they become more comfortable. Just remember to respond with patience and care. And be open to the idea of getting professional help. In time, life will be back to normal, and everyone will be happy and content in their new home.