Moving with children, if not thought out well, can be as traumatic for the parents as it is for the kids. As adults, moving can be both exhilarating and freeing because we understand what we are about to face as we take that first step out into unfamiliar territory. For a child whose imagination is gargantuan, but whose understanding of life is still in its early development, the idea of moving anywhere beyond the four walls of the familiar space of their bedroom can be daunting, and that stress and fear affects everyone involved in the move.
During the first ten years of my daughter’s life, we moved quite a few times. My daughter is able to remember every minuscule detail of each move. For me, it’s a blur of bubble wrap, wrapping paper, boxes and moving vans, but I do clearly remember the move I made as a child with my parents, even down to the books and stuffed toys I brought with me in a special backpack my parents had packed for each of us, and how they made sure to keep out my pillow to take with me in the car.
Each time we’ve moved, we’ve made sure that we followed the example of our parents with both our children on ways to acclimate them to their new surroundings.
3 Tips for moving with children
- Make sure to let each of them take several of their familiar items from their bedrooms with them in a backpack so that you aren’t left trying to unsuccessfully search through boxes to locate those specific items that make your kids feel safe and secure. This also gives you an advantage in allowing you to take your time unpacking boxes in their rooms.
- Make sure to let them talk to their “friends” around their room about why they were packing them away and when they will again be out of boxes and back safely on the walls, bed, or in their toy chest. It gives them a comfortable feeling to know that they have explained to their imaginary friends the circumstances of why they are moving, how long it will be, and that they will miss them. But, it is also their way of reaffirming to themselves that everything will be ok.
- Finally, when you get to where you are going, make sure to unpack their room first, and also allow them to help put their bedrooms back together again. This gives them a feeling of empowerment and ownership in their new space by letting them decide where they will put their bed, or which wall they will choose to hang their Wall clock or outlet to plug their night light in.