Amidst the excitement of moving to a new home is a lot of stress for families with younger children. Often they don’t understand what is happening. That can make them feel powerless and afraid. Here are some ideas for turning those stressors into an adventure for your little ones.
Involve children in decisions
House-hunting with children is neither practical nor advisable since you cannot expect a home to be childproofed. You can, however, sit down with your children and ask them what would be most important in a new home. Do they love the outdoors … a big yard is in order, or a home near a great park, or both! If a tree-house is on their radar, be on the lookout for a great backyard tree and a neighborhood that allows for tree-houses. Do you want a pool? A pool with a safety fence can narrow down your choices for you. What about a big playroom, game room or media room? Separate bedrooms for each child?
Bring your family’s wish list with you to your very first meeting with your real estate professional. She needs to know exactly what you’re looking for, and what your kids are looking for, so that she can find you the perfect new home. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, show your kids pictures of the houses that fit their criteria.
Plan their new room
Even before you nail down the house choice, children can trek with you to home stores to look at paint chips. Letting your child choose his new room’s color can heighten the excitement of the move.
If you plan to include new bedding, a theme or other enhancements to the room, start a scrapbook or Pinterest board for each child to add their favorite ideas.
Of course your child won’t be involved in the bulk of the packing, but seeing all of their familiar things shut away in boxes can be scary. Give each child a box to pack his treasured items, favorite books or special toys. Have him color or draw on the outside of the box so that he knows which one is his. If practical, bring those boxes in the car with you as you travel to your new home.
Give everyone a break
According to child psychologists, the stress of moving (including during the planning stages and once you’ve arrived at your new home) affects children’s sleep pattern, behavior, appetite, toilet training habits and anxiety levels. They may cling more, or be more aggressive. They may wake up during the night more often or even revert to thumb-sucking and bedwetting. A change in time zones, and the unfamiliar new surroundings can disrupt sleep as well.
You may be frazzled and so might they … so give everyone some extra grace.
If your move takes you to a new city or state, take the time to visit all of your children’s haunts. The park they play in, or their preschool, the homes of their favorite friends, even their place of worship should be on the list. Give them an opportunity to tell everyone and every place “goodbye,” take photos to add to a memory book.
Of course, being organized is the key to a sane moving experience for people of any age, but it is especially true when children are involved. Mark ALL of your boxes. If you have a tablet or computer, create a numbering system and list all of the contents of each box. When you have an urgent need for those special toys to calm a restless toddler or keep a child busy, knowing where to find them can ease your own anxiety.
Most of all, let the move be as fun and exciting as possible for everyone.