Moving to a new house is an exciting time for adults, with lots to plan and look forward to, new scenery and new experiences. For children however this might not always be the case, change can be hard to assimilate, and they may be worried about leaving friends behind, changing schools, or the new house itself and the change of environment. Of course, your children might love the whole moving experience, hiring a man with a van for the house move, packing and unpacking, setting up their new rooms - it can all be an adventure. Either way, we have broken these tips down into sections so hopefully, there will be something here to make things easier for you and your family.
When Looking for Your New Home
Change is inevitable
In all areas of our life change is a natural occurrence and mostly unavoidable. Whilst, as adults, we can be excited about the prospect of a new home, children may not share that enthusiasm. They will be leaving a lot of familiar and secure things behind to step into the unknown, and it's important to bear this in mind when explaining the move to them.
Talk the children through it
Make sure they understand when you are moving and that they will have new rooms and a new house. There's no right or wrong time to do this, just bear in mind that the longer they have to digest the fact of the move the easier it will be for them when the day comes. Getting them involved in the physical side is also important, there's plenty of packing to be done, and they can even decorate the boxes once packed. Getting them involved in this way makes them feel like participants rather than just having it forced upon them.
Ask the children what they would like in your new home
Before the house hunting starts sit down and create a list of things they would like to see (bigger garden, attic bedroom, playroom etc.) - naturally you may not be able to accommodate all their wishes but this will allow them to have an input into the house selection process.
Reassure them about their new school
Moving to a new house means a likely move to a new school, which means new friends and new teachers. Talk to them about this and if possible take them to see the new school before the move, this will help them build a picture of what it might be like to go there.
Before the Move
Plan out their new room(s) with them
Once you have your new dwelling set it's a good idea to sit down with the little ones and let them plan out their new room(s). If there's new furniture to be bought they might enjoy a trip down to the store to chose it, likewise with colour schemes
De-clutter the house when the kids are at school/asleep
A house move is akin to a giant spring-clean in some respects, a great time to say 'do I really need this/do I use this anymore?' and with the children's clothes/toys this will be especially true. Doing it while they are present may well result in tears and reinforce the negative aspects of the move.
Take the children to see your new house
Where possible a few visits to the new home will not only help familiarise them with it but, when you point out all the great new features it has, make them look forward to these aspects of moving home.
Throw a farewell party
If you are moving away from the current area it might be an idea to give the children a chance to say goodbye by throwing a small party or taking them and their friends out for an evening. For younger children taking photos or making a scrapbook is an easier way of letting them feel they are taking something of their old life with them.
On the Day of the Move
Keep the children entertained
If they have a favourite film, and you have a tablet or smartphone then download it for them, or play a DVD on a laptop. If they have a favourite toy that's 'moving friendly' make sure they have access to it - the familiar things will help ease the jolt of all the unfamiliar. Consider buying a new toy, especially for the new room - this will give them something to look forward to!
Unpack your children's room(s) first
Once the kids are comfortable and have familiar things around them they should start to relax more into the new surroundings.
Consider Hiring a Babysitter for the day of the move
Having an extra pair of hands/eyes to keep track of the little ones while there are heavy boxes and furniture being moved will prove invaluable.
After the Move
Take them out for a fun day in the new area
Pick a nice day soon after the move and take them out to explore their new surroundings. Parks, restaurants, play centres, shopping - anything you think they will enjoy, to show them the positive side of moving here.
Watch out for signs of stress
These can manifest themselves in a number of ways, sometimes verbally and sometimes behaviour-wise (shyness, aggressiveness, bedwetting, not eating etc.). If signs of stress start to manifest be sure to talk with your child and listen to their issues, what might seem small to you as an adult can seem huge to their limited life experience.
Help them keep in touch with old friends
Depending on their age this may be just a question of giving them the space to be on their phone/console messaging or maybe even having old friends come over to stay with them. This will let them graduate with the changes in their surroundings, and not feel that absolutely everything has altered.
Help them make new friends
Depending on your child's age and demeanour this may or may not be necessary. Holding a house-warming party or BBQ can provide an environment where the kids will just get on and play together without forcing things. If new friends come over it might be an idea to have something available for them to do, be it simply playing in the garden or a trip to the cinema.