by Emma Kenny
Moving to a new house is considered one of the most stressful experiences that a family can go through, and whilst to some degree even the smoothest of moves can pose a fair few challenges, the experience can be made easier when all family members feel involved.
Children, just like adults, feel a whole host of emotions when they contemplate what a move of home and area can bring. These range from elation and excitement to absolute terror, so it is absolutely paramount to understand how your kids feel throughout the relocation process.
Let’s face it, moving home is a big deal, and the more that you can prepare your kids emotionally, psychologically, socially and physically, the better it will be for the family.
Top tips for parents to help children through the moving process:
Communicate and help children verbalise fears
As soon as you firmly decide to move home it is time to begin communicating your decision to your children. Before you sit down with them to discuss the move, make sure that you have created a list of reasons as to why you have decided that moving to a new house will be brilliant. Remember, the more positive and prepared you are, the more convincing you will be, and this will help to reduce any anxiety that your children may have.
Get children to openly discuss and explain any fears or worries that are concerning them regarding the house move. Explain that it is totally normal to feel a bit scared when facing a big change.
Provide children with a sense of control
Children like thinking that they are in charge! It feels good for them to perceive that they have a say, and a certain amount of sway when it comes to what is happening in their life. Get them to sit down with you and list all the fantastic things about moving house. Making new friends, learning new activities or starting a completely new life can be hugely exciting. The most positive you think the most positive they’ll feel. Also take them along with you when doing viewings – this really helps them feel a sense of authority and that they have
a say in the process.
Be prepared for any questions that they have and above all, take their concerns seriously.
Use their imagination
Children love using their imagination to conjure all sorts of fantastical eventualities.
Get them to draw a picture
of their ‘Dream Home’. This could be totally wacky, princess-style castle or a country cottage – whatever they bring to life, will help them understand the concept of moving into a new home and living in a new place.
Do a trial run
As with many things – try before you buy! It can be really helpful for the whole family to spend some fun, laid-back days in the new area before you make the big move there. Knowing where the fun places are will make it seem all the more appealing. A nice welcoming cafe, a park, a library or museum are all good places to draw their attention to and get them looking forward to experiencing more time together in the new area.
Plan how to keep in touch with friends
Leaving friends behind is understandably one of the most upsetting aspects of moving to a new house and area. Don’t minimise your child’s feelings no matter how young they are, as whilst they will make new friends, it doesn’t stop saying goodbye being difficult or leave them feeling sad. Instead, acknowledge that it is tough to leave their friends behind, and discuss strategies that will make keeping in contact with friends really easy.
Encourage them to take a few mementos from your existing home which will remind them of all the happy times they spent there. These can be a few rocks from the garden, or a plant that they can dig up and replant at their new property. This helps your child feel that they still have connections to the home that they have left behind.
Bury a time capsule
Before you move to your new house, create a time capsule in a box filled with memories of how you lived your life in your old home. Many years later you could always return to the spot and open the capsule with your family and share your memories. Have the children write down their favourite memories of their old house and the item they’ve put in the capsule to represent that memory. Just make sure you bury it in an accessible and memorable place!
Make a wish list and give them ownership
Start getting the whole family excited about all the fantastic plans you have for everyone once the move is complete. This can include new activities that your kids can try, such as enrolling in a gymnastics club, or starting with a local theatre group, and you can bring these ideas to life by getting them to research them online. Even better, get them to create a physical wish list of things that they would love to do once they are settled to the new place and then help them set some goals so that they can achieve these wishes.
As you settle into your new house, ensure you allow your child some ownership over the design of their new room. Whilst you may think that letting your little ones go crazy with their imagination could lead to some questionable choices in home décor, it enables them to emotionally bond with their new environment and also provides a focus whilst they settle in.
Work with your child to write a moving home story with a main character that moves with their family. Encourage them to use their imagination and have the main character go through the experience of moving homes with their families and settling into a new place, making new friends and joining new clubs and groups in the new area. This will help them envisage what the new environment will be like and familiarise themselves with the concept of moving home.
Check in with them regularly
It is really important to check in regularly with your children to ensure that they can confide in you any troubling feelings that they may be experiencing. Take 10 minutes each night before they go to bed to discuss their feelings about moving home. This allows them to feel supported and also unpack their feelings so that they don’t lie worrying in bed, because tired kids find the world a great deal more challenging.
There are lots of books available which feature stories about children moving house including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Wrecking Ball or Jenny Eclair’s Moving.
Visit www.purplebricks.co.uk/blog/post/diary-of-a-wimpy-kid for further details and to download ‘A Kids Guide to Moving House’, created by Emma Kenny with Purplebricks, to help families through the moving process.