Moving when you have children is never easy. Not only are you occupied with the process of getting your home together and ready for the move, you must also keep in mind the way your child is processing all these changes. Practicing your active listening skills will go a long way when dealing with your child’s concerns about these changes. Prepare yourself for many mood swings, tears, and cries of “I hate you!” as your child goes through the motions of accepting the move.
The best thing you can do is keep your cool! Allowing your child to vent and be upset is important for them to see that you do care about their feelings and the fear they are feeling. It’s also beneficial for them to see your feelings, but don’t overdo it. Acknowledge their feelings, respect their feelings, and take their concerns seriously - but try your best to avoid an all-out pity party. Staying positive and reminding your child of all the great new things about your new home will help in the process.
The bad news? Moving with children whether they are toddlers, pre-teens, or teenagers, is going to be tough. The good news? With time, your child will adjust just fine!
- Give them enough time to let the move sink in. Making your child aware that regardless of the changes happening in home, that there are many things that will remain constant in their lives. They will still have their room and their belongings, everything in the house is coming with them, and that you’ll always be there for them no matter what. A great exercise with your child would be together planning their new room! Whether it’s new paint, a new bed, or just a new layout, this gives your child the sense of control.
- Give a tour! Even though your child doesn’t get to decide to move or not, take them on a tour of their new home. This way they will also know what to expect and familiarize themselves with the neighborhood and amenities that they’ll be able to enjoy like that fully equipped playground or spray park down the street, or the shopping centers in the area. With a quick Google search, you can find many activities and fun things to do in your neighborhood. Check your local public library! A great resource to find child and family friendly activities in the area that will help your family get to know your neighbors in the community.
- Give your child the authority over their belongings (what to pack, what goes where, etc.) It will have them feeling more at ease. Show them that you care about their choices by keeping their prized possessions close, take your time packing and showing them that you appreciate the value of their belongings.
- Stage a sendoff celebration. Out with the old home, and in with the new! To help bring some closure to your child, ask them if they would want to have a get together with their close friends. Making an actual event out of the move can help bring a sense of peace to your child who could be concerned about losing those connections they’ve built with friends and neighbors. For a fun treat, give your child and their friends a couple of disposable cameras and the freedom to take pictures of themselves in your home, in the neighborhood, or just hanging out. The excitement of waiting for the pictures to develop will give your child a break from concerning themselves with the move. You and your child can also sit down and create a memory board or a scrapbook for your child to hold on to and remember all the good times shared in the old home!
Try your best to keep help your child stay in touch with old friends. Just because your child has moved doesn’t mean their old friends are no longer important. Help by facilitating face to face visits, video chats, phone calls, etc. This could be an exception to help your child get comfortable by loosening the restrictions on phone and screen time.
- Keep a consistent routine. Showing them that you can keep up with the same routine will help them get back on track. Preparing and planning meals and snacks for before and after the move will make things easier and less stressful during your first week, especially as you’re still getting settled. Don’t rush to unpack! Take your time and enjoy your new home, your new neighborhood and all the fun things you must explore. Make it an adventure that you and your child can enjoy!
Always remember that your child is feeling emotions you may or may not be able to relate to and that they themselves may not be able to fully comprehend. Your child could be struggling with the ideas of a new school, making new friends, or a new atmosphere. Listening to your child and helping them feel understood will always help to build their trust, productivity, empathy, and most importantly your relationship. Give them the environment to openly express themselves – and the space they need when they need it. Be open, ready, and prepared to help smooth the transition.
This post was written by Midwest Property Management. Midwest Property Management is Western Canada's largest privately held apartment rental company in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. We serve a variety of cities within Western Canada, including: Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Yellowknife, and Vancouver.