Moving house can be quite a difficult time for children, especially if the move is interstate or international. All they have known is left behind, what they love is shoved into boxes and a cold, empty new space is set before them as their new home. They have to adjust to a new neighbourhood, a new school, make new friends – it call be be quite overwhelming. But there are things that can be done to lessen the impact and promote the excitement, rather than the feeling of loss, of moving house.
Give your kids a tour of the new house as soon as you arrive. Leave the boxes for a minute, and take the time to explore your new surroundings with your child/ren and let them picture what each room will be or could be. Invite them into the design process, ask them what they want where – where should the bed go, the couch, give them the chance to feel like they are part of the process and empower them in creating a new home. And beyond your house, go exploring, on foot, around your neighbourhood.
Put Their Special Box in the Car
While packing up, get your kids to set aside a box of their personal essentials that they want to have as soon as you arrive at your new house. Have them put their special books, soft toys, lamps, whatever it is that makes their room feel like their room, it could even be a bedspread – what matters is that this box isn’t put in with the rest of your stuff being taken by the removalist company in Sydney. Instead, it should be taken in the car with you, so that as soon as you arrive your child can unpack and start setting their room up the way they want it.
Make Allowances for Anxiety
Telling your child not to worry, or not to be silly will only increase their levels of anxiety. Talk to them about how their feeling and acknowledge all those feelings. Tell them it’s okay to be feeling the way they are, and that it’s completely normal. Even if your child is excited about the move, understand that they will also have anxieties that may come out at a later date. Keep the communication lines open and don’t dismiss anything they are feeling. Also do your best not to compare your situation with theirs – you don’t understand what it’s like for them because children react much differently and have a much stronger emotional response to a move like this.
Return to Routine
You want your children to understand that everything will be relatively normal, despite this massive change. Returning to your normal routine as fast as possible will give them a sense of comfort and normality in the midst of a massive change in their lives. Try to keep bedtime the same, after school sports training and routines, shopping, whatever you generally do in a week try to return to that as soon as possible.
Everyone Needs Good Neighbours
Hopefully, your new home also comes with nice neighbours. Take your child to meet the new neighbours and introduce yourselves. Helping your child to feel like they are part of a community will help ease their sense of fear about being in a new, unknown location. Let them know there are allies. They will be seeing your neighbours around quite often, so try to make friends and create some familiarity in the neighbourhood.
Listen to your child, accept how they are feeling, and do your best to boost the excitement, rather than the hardship of moving house. If you’re stressed, they will be too.