Helping your children through a move

There is no doubt that being a child means constantly adjusting to change.  The younger they are, the more frequent the changes are.

One of the things we do as parents is to help shield them from chaos by creating some order in their changing little lives.  Having some constants give them anchors with which to digest the change they are enduring on a daily basis.  These anchors can be very simple (toys in the same spot) to the complex (a detailed repeated schedule – the pros and cons of which are beyond the scope of this post).

The problem is that when you are moving, everything is changing. Even constants like having access to Dad and Mom may be significantly reduced because your schedules are filled with more demands.  Here are some tips to help your little ones through the transition.

  1. Don’t give into the temptation of shortcutting key daily routines.  If bedtime, dinnertime, or breakfast time is a regular ritual around your home, stick to it.  Keep that daily anchor as much as you can.
  2. Use playtime to act out the move so they know what to expect.  May sure you use two different locations when you play this through.
  3. If they are old enough to understand the move (somewhere between 3-5) then you can involve them in the packing.  Let them put their toys and books in the box so they can open them up later.
  4. If they are not old enough, then pack their things up when they are not around.  For a little one, there are few things more distressing then seeing your treasures stuck in a box.  They don’t understand that the items will be coming back out again.
  5. If possible, limit the time they will live in the house that you are leaving while the packing is going on.  They will adjust to the new house being in “moving chaos” very easily because they are not attached to it yet.  The residence you are leaving though, is likely all they know.  It is very stressful to see it packed and put away.
  6. Gather an extra dose of patience.  You are going to be under more stress and likely you are going to be more tired.  So are they.  Give them a little extra grace during this time and be ready to keep your emotions on a shorter leash than usual.
  7. Lastly and most importantly for you Type A folks.  Be flexible.  Make sure you allow for the unexpected in your meticulous moving plans.  You children need you more than the move does.

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