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Moving With Children - Some Great Tips

Aug 20, 2008
Informing Kids

When moving with children, tell older ones once the plans are definite.
Kids need time get through things and adjust:

Do not rush their goodbyes to any friends
Do not keep the move as a surprise, leaving it to the last minute
Tell younger ones when the move is happening and involve them as needed as this will make them less frightened and nervous

Attitude and Moving with Kids

Adult moods should be focused and show a sense of adventure to the kids
Avoid depressed, worried or stressed attitudes as these produce negative responses from kids
Avoid kids fearing the unknown by providing all details necessary with an excited and upbeat approach, including what will happen on the moving day
Discuss the move, the community and new home
Encourage questions and the expression of feelings
Address all of the kids' concerns meaningfully, attentively and lovingly
With younger children, focus on the present on the day of the move:
Encourage looking out for the movers arrival
Discourage frustration through play and fantasy
Encourage assistance by getting them to load wagons with light boxes to be moved to other rooms
Discuss feelings about moving through books about other kids moving
Be aware and prepared for unsettled reactions such as boredom and disinterest, helping them to deal with this through the discussion of honest emotions/feelings and assure them that disagreeing with you is acceptable
Deal with each kid's level of emotions one at a time, whether it is sadness, nervousness, anger or frustration
Be prepared to deal with these emotions for some time after the move until the kids have settled in
Avoid generalizations with teens regarding their concerns and feelings by being respective, honest, open, able to resolve their issues and making no promises that cannot be kept
With teens, involve them in the move to avoid negative reactions, including responsibilities, decision-making and advice giving
Always make teens aware that their feedback is important

The New Home/Community Prior to the Move

Visit the new home/community with kids to ease their transition and see their rooms and neighbourhood
Visit local shops, playgrounds, parks, sporting facilities, movie cinemas, restaurants and other locations with kids in the new neighbourhood
Get kids signed up for activities through community facilities and meet the people they will be involved with
Take the kids for tours of their new schools
Introduce the kids to their new teachers
If the move is a great distance away then show the kids photos or videos of the new home and neighbourhood, including local kids, playgrounds, sports facilities, shops, schools, parks, restaurants, etc.
Encourage kids to discuss the photos and videos to learn what other kids wear, if they appear friendly, where they hang out and create a map to help them when they arrive
Create packs with coupons or certificates for each child for varied restaurants and attractions in the new neighbourhood, including a gift from a local shop
Discuss local music and television stations
Build their excitement and enthusiasm
Get the kids involved through specified moving day jobs
Get primary age kids to create list to tick off any jobs assigned to them
Get teenagers to create lists for their jobs to be ticked off on the day of the move
Constantly show appreciation for their assistance in the move
Encourage kids to voice their opinions regarding moving aspects
Create diagrams of kids' rooms with photos of furniture and toys made to scale so they can arrange their things prior to the move
Involve kids in decoration plans such as bedspreads, wallpaper and paint
Get younger kids to help pack their things - toys, etc. - personalizing their box (s) with drawings and labels
Get teenagers to pack all their things
Arrange with the movers to pack the kids' personal boxes last and then remove them first

Avoiding Changes to Kids' Daily Routines

Maintain normal nap, bed, meal and play times
Avoid potty training for three weeks after moving in
Honour all current family routines - pizza nights, etc.
Do not add other routines until three weeks after moving in
Maintain stable habits to avoid stress
Do not discard kids old and unneeded things or clothes until three weeks after moving in
Respect kids' private things and space
Transport kids' favourite packed things privately
Pack rooms for smallest kids when they are at a neighbour's or at daycare

Leaving their Old Home

Memories are important to kids as well as adults so photographing the process prior to dismantling and packing will help them say goodbye to their old home.

Get kids to create their own book of memories, including pictures/photos of their treasured memories of their neighbourhood's places and people.
Let the kids host a party for their friends and give out pre-stamped postcards containing the address of their new home, as well as recording their friends' contact information. They could also take photos or video recordings of the event, allowing them to view their memories of the final days and maintain contact with their friends. Giving them a long distance calling allowance for the phone is also a good idea. Schedule return visits for them to the old neighbourhood and/or let old friends come to visit.

The Day of the Move

Have small kids and babies stay with friends, uncles, aunts or grandparents to avoid them getting confused by the reduced attention, feeling under foot and to avoid accidents. Alternatively, keep them in playpens with their treasured toys and commandeer a neighbour to watch play with and watch them.

Avoid packing kids' favourite books/toys/games into moving boxes, keeping them out to avoid boredom and allow easy access upon arrival.
Arrive before the movers to let the kids explore each room before the boxes arrive.

Ensure the kids are occupied when the movers arrive and as the contents and furniture is being offloaded as things will seem rather strange at first for them, so helping them to focus on a specific thing will prevent their minds from wandering. Most importantly keep the process as calm and positive as possible, including smiles and hugs.

Time to Settle In

Deal with the kids' rooms first. This provides a base and feelings of security. Get all their furniture set up and let them unpack their own boxes, allowing them to arrange their things in ways that please them.
Check the new home for potential spots for accidents - uncovered swimming pools, gates that are not locked, loosened window screens, wobbly steps/rails, etc. - and establish clear boundaries for the kids by letting them know where they can and cannot explore.

Unpack things that are essential first and take breaks to explore the new neighbourhood with walks, drives around the neighbourhood and trips to the park or nearest restaurant. Find activities that are available at the local zoo, museum or library, or go for a bike ride. Help the kids and yourself to take time to absorb and enjoy the new home and neighbourhood.

Unpack other things gradually, getting the kids into swimming, sports, drama and other activities that they participated in, in their old neighbourhood. This helps maintain continuity, as well as allowing them to meet new kids with like-minded interests.

Let the kids invite their new friends for a barbecue or pizza.

Expectations of Adjustments to Changes

Once everyone has settled in, reality will click in with the kids. Anger and frustration may arise more easily as they make comparisons regarding homes, jobs, schools and friends. Each kid adjusts differently, either fitting in immediately or feeling that the new neighbourhood compares adequately to their old neighbourhood. This process takes about three plus weeks, or even over a year or more.

Signals that the Adjustment is Not Going Smoothly

Moving reactions are normal, but there are warning signs that show your kid(s) may be having extra difficulties in adjusting to their newer environment. These include:

Becoming noticeably withdrawn
Sleeping problems
Increased crying
Increased angry outbursts
Refusing to mix with other kids
Desiring more alone time
Bed wetting
Stomach aches
Thumb sucking
Reduced school grades
Deceased appetite
Should these persist longer than normal or increase then get advice from the kids' paediatrician or family doctor.

Overall be positive, and let the kids see this as a whole new adventure, with lots to look forward too.
About the Author
Jim Baker from Magic Movers Furniture Removals has written many moving tips articles on both local furniture removals and interstate furniture removals. There are many other articles and resources helpful for any move at http://www.magicmovers.com .au and at http://www.magicmovers.blogspot.com
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