Ever moved house with kids? Logistically it's a nightmare, and emotionally it often isn't any easier.
Erin and Sarah both got in touch with Helpline about how to make the moving transition a smooth one for their three-year-olds. Both were concerned that routines might go backwards, and that it could be an emotional time.
Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue reassures us that kids actually cope quite well with change.
“I think you’ll be amazed at how well children adjust, and three-and-a-half year olds usually have really good communication skills. We put a lot of our own anxiety on what they do. Kids are amazingly fluid at being able to take adjustment.”
Chris shares a few tips to keep in mind as moving day approaches.
Don’t talk about it too much
“First, I wouldn’t over-talk the move, because sometimes that builds anxiety,” Chris advises.
Talk a little less, and certainly not every day, to keep the stress levels down (for both you and your kid!).
Do a drive-by
In the week before you move, drive past the new house and the new day care (if there is one). Point it out and explain which day you’re going to be moving, when the truck will come over and pick up everything.
You could even write up a little plan with pictures to explain the timeline, including things like when the truck will come, and when you will first sleep in the new house.
Let them ponder this a little bit, so they can process it. And again, don’t talk about it too much.
Emulate the room set up
When bringing all the furniture in, try to set up a familiar space. Try to set the room up straight away and mimic the room the same way as it was back in the old house.
This will help kids to adjust and give some assurance in the new environment.
Listen to Helpline:
Maintain your routine
“I wouldn’t change anything you’re already doing,” Chris says.
Use the same bedtime and morning routines. Don’t suddenly change the routine by pushing back bedtime or changing your settling techniques, as that can soon become a problem. And you've worked so hard on your routine, after all!
One thing Chris reminds us to keep in mind, however, is that they may need you to comfort them more than usual in the new environment, especially at bedtime.
“[They] might need a little bit more comfort, because [they’re] not going to know the sounds of the house.”
Answer questions honestly
When your little one raises questions about the move, Chris says you need to be honest. For example, if they ask if they’ll still see their daycare friends, explain that they won’t see them at daycare, but they will make other visits to see friends.
Kids will have more questions once you start packing boxes, as that makes it very real. Engaging them in this packing process will help their understanding of the situation.
Let them say goodbye to old friends
Allow them to say goodbye to their favourite neighbours and local faces, especially teachers and classmates if they are changing schools or daycare. It will help with closure, and not give the expectation that they’re going back.
“It’s all about allowing [them] to end the relationships and build new relationships, and I think you’ll find [they’re] amazingly resilient about the actual physical move,” Chris reassures.
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