Moving house with children can make the whole process much more stressful if it is not handled in the correct way. Children can often be resistant to the move and suffer feelings of fear and anxiety about moving to a new house and a new area.
Children of different ages will react to the move in a variety of different ways, and it is essential to remain patient and sensitive to their needs.
Children of any age will respond to being involved in the move, and you should think about strategies to get them interested in helping and being a part of the whole process.
It is important to keep your kids entertained, especially on the actual moving day.
You will be inclined to spend your time dealing with the stresses of the move itself.
However giving your children jobs to do and keeping them busy will stop them getting under your feet.
Should you use child-care?
If you have very young children it may be more sensible to leave them with a carer for the day so you are able to concentrate on the move.
If possible, leaving them with a family member will help them to feel more secure.
Babies and young children can still sense when their parents are anxious and they will be aware that something is happening; a familiar face will help them to feel safe while you are apart.
With a little imagination there are plenty of different games you can play with your kids, some of which can also be productive towards the move. A few games you could try playing are:
- Let them have a couple of large boxes to build a castle or a playhouse. You could cut windows out for them and let them draw on the boxes with crayons. Kids love to build dens and this could keep them occupied for a good few hours.
- You could cut up some boxes and lay them on the floor for the children to use chalks or pens on, drawing on a ‘floor’ is always much more exciting to a child than using paper!
- Give them some sheets of bubble wrap and let them pop the bubbles; it is such a simple but satisfying feeling, and children absolutely love it.
- You can play more difficult games with older children, for example set an empty box on the table and ask the children to memorise the contents of the room, then close their eyes. Place an item from the room into the box and invite the children to guess what has ‘disappeared’.
- Jack-in-the-box. Give the children a large box, big enough for them to fit inside. One can crouch down in the box while the other closes the flaps ready for the child to jump out and shout ‘surprise’. A very simple game, but one that younger kids will repeat over and over again.
- You could set the kids a treasure hunt by marking several boxes with colours and hiding them around the house. Set them off on a treasure hunt to find the boxes, and give prizes at the end.
Keeping them entertained
You can ‘hire’ your children for special jobs throughout the day, this gives them practical tasks to complete which help towards the move and gives them a feeling that they are contributing. Ask your kids to help with carrying boxes if they are old enough, or ask them to write on the boxes which rooms they are going to be unloaded into at the new house. Older children will respond better to being put in charge of something; maybe they can ‘supervise’ the younger ones, or be responsible for making sure each room is completely emptied as the contents are taken out.
When you are travelling to the new house DVDs, handheld games and music are essential for keeping the kids entertained, particularly if you have a long journey. It’s a good idea to stop for food if you are covering a long distance, tired and hungry children can become difficult very quickly.
Safety during the move
There is always a fair amount of commotion during a move, and your mind will be focussed on 101 different things. Doors are often left open, tools may be left lying around, and there are likely to be stacks of boxes piled up in every room.
It is essential to keep an eye on the children at all times, younger ones can easily wander out of a house to explore their surroundings, completely unaware of dangers such as busy roads. It could be a good idea to designate one family member to be responsible for supervising the children, especially if you can enlist the help of grandparents.
Children can suffer from stress in different ways to adults leading up to and during a move. Hopefully you will have already shown your kids their new house, and talked it over with them on several occasions. It will help both of you on the day if you make plenty of time for your children, and give them as much involvement as possible.
In times of anxiety children often become more ‘clingy’ to parents and demand more attention. Although you may have a dozen things to get on with, don’t neglect their cries for attention and make sure you reassure them regularly.
Giving them jobs to do and getting them to help on the day will help them to concentrate on the move and not dwell on what is being left behind.
Try to make the moving day as positive and exciting as possible, despite the stress you are feeling; the children will benefit from having something new to look forward to, and feeling that they are contributing towards it.