How to help your family settle into a new home
Moving house is a big adjustment for the whole family. These are the tips you need to help make the transition easier on your children, no matter their age.
There’s no denying that moving home can be one of the most stressful things in life, so it’s little wonder that children can have a hard time adjusting to the change. From toddlers to teenagers, moving is disruptive. It can be especially hard on those who don’t cope well with change, who may not have been part of the decision-making process, or when moving cities or countries, adjusting to a new school, community, and friendship circle at the same time as a new home.
Whatever the circumstances prompting the move, try to maintain a positive attitude because the parent’s mood and attitudes greatly impact the kids during times of transition. And although moving can present many challenges, good things can and do come from change. Here are a few tips to help your family settle into a new home.
Before moving day
According to KidsHealth.org, many kids thrive on familiarity and routine. They state that the best way to prepare kids for a move is to talk about it. Give them as much information about the move as possible and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Kids tend to be more focused on the frightening aspects of the move rather than the positive benefits of the move.
Involve kids in the house-hunting process. Let them have a voice in the decision-making process and, if possible, visit the new neighbourhood before moving day. Let them get a feel for the local parks and playgrounds and seek out the local takeout of their choice (pizza, Thai, sushi etc.) – the more familiar they are with the new neighbourhood, the easier the transition will be.
Kids Health explains that kids younger than six are the easiest to move because of their level of understanding of the changes involved. Having said that, avoid other big changes during the move such as toilet training. And although moving is a great chance to get rid of clutter, forcing children to give things away can compound the sense of loss. So, ease into any decluttering, instead create a box of the things you would consider getting rid of but hold onto it for the time being.
Lastly, have the kids decorate their moving boxes. This will help the kids identify which boxes belong to them.
On moving day, organise playdates and catch up with friends away from the house. This will keep the kids away from the chaos and stress. Once in the new home, plan fun activities such as going out to dinner, having a picnic down at the local park or a pizza party at the house with family and friends.
Prioritise setting the kid’s bedrooms up before the rest of the house. This will provide a comfortable, safe place for them to be in. Hold off getting rid of any old furniture as this provides a sense of familiarity and, if possible, set the furniture up in a similar way in the new bedroom.
Settling into the new home
The biggest thing parents can do to help settle their kids into a new home is to keep the family routine and schedule. Maintaining their bedtime and meal times and being as predictable as possible gives the kids a sense of continuity with life in their old home.
Young children can be easier to move, but according to Kids Health, teens are most likely to rebel as they will miss their friendship circle, which they may have invested a lot of time and energy in. Kids Health advises parents to validate and respect their feelings around the move. Consider planning a visit back to the old neighbourhood and help them keep up with old friends via Zoom and phone calls.
Another great way to help children settle into their new home is by giving them some control over their new space. Let them choose the colour of their room, or for older kids, provide them with a budget to decorate their room.
Moving is often overwhelming, physically and emotionally, for everyone in the family and uprooting kids is a big change, but they do adjust, and they will settle.