Keeping the kids happy when moving home
Moving house can be an emotional experience for adults, so imagine how much more unsettling it can be for children who don't understand what's going on.
There are many things to consider when relocating, none more important than the impact of moving on your children.
The secret is to remain positive.
Most often, the reason for moving is a happy one, such as a new home or job promotion, which generates excitement and compensates for the inconvenience of packing up and relocating.
However, if they associated the move with an unhappy event, it can be hard to keep a positive attitude in front of the children.
Children feed off the emotions of their parents.
If you are not happy, then chances are they are not satisfied either and will need more reassurance and attention to ensure the move is a positive experience for all of you.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN:
Explain to your children what's happening, why you are moving, where you are moving to and what they can do to help so that they feel a part of what's happening.
Listen to them.
Let them express how they are feeling and empathise with them, even if some of their feelings are negative.
It is only natural they will be concerned, leaving familiar surroundings and friends.
Leaving the known for the unknown can be pretty scary.
Most importantly be honest with your children.
Reassure them that they are an essential part of the family, and can help make a move a positive family experience.
TEARS AND TANTRUMS:
Children express their anxiety in some ways.
Tears and tantrums are the most common. If your children have moved before, and the experience was not a happy one, they may show signs of depression, withdrawn behaviour, or signs of aggression such as tantrums.
Once again, the answer is lots of reassurance and a positive attitude.
THE AGE DIFFERENCE:
Different aged children react differently to the news of an impending move:
Very young children will be affected least, providing their regular routine is not significantly disrupted.
Children of this age worry about being left behind especially when they see their favourite toys being packed and put away, which diverts the parent's attention from them and their regular home routine.
Instead of getting them out of the way by sending them off to Nana's or a babysitter, let them stay with you and help you pack up their possessions and toys.
Never throw out any of these before the move, regardless of their condition as having familiar things around is of great comfort to young children.
Primary School Children:
Children of this age look forwarding to discovering the world around them.
Therefore relocating is generally exciting to them, with lots of new experiences and making new friends comes typically easily to children in this age group.
Their main concern is fitting into their new school.
Deep vital friendships are essential to older children.
By this age, social activities and friends have overshadowed the family as sources of identity.
Talk to them openly and frankly about the move. If your kids are interested in sports or activities, help them find clubs and organisations in the new area.
If practical, encourage them to invite friends to visit or stay overnight at your new address.
Forget about whether your home is not as presentable as you would like - your children's happiness is a priority at this stage.
TIMING - PITFALLS & MYTHS
Although it may seem more convenient to relocate during school holidays, experience shows that this timing can be more upsetting for children.
School is a significant source for making friends.
So if you move during the annual school holidays, your children will be placed in new surroundings at a time when the opportunity to make new friends is at a minimum.
Come the first day of school in the New Year; they will enter the class as a stranger - a new student who may not be recognised as such by a teacher facing a new course for the year.
On the other hand, a move during the school year would allow your children to go directly from one group of friends to another.
Transferring from one primary school to another is relatively easy, as the curriculum is reasonably flexible.
Transferring from one secondary school to another may cause some transitional problems as the curricula are more structured and can change from state to state.
Therefore, do consider the social problems that will almost certainly result from a move during the annual school holidays.
Here are some valuable tips to make your move a happy one.
BEFORE THE MOVE:
Involve the children.
If possible, take them with you when you go house hunting.
Do some research?
Get your children excited about where they're going?
Find out about the history and attractions of the area you are going to.
Allow them to give you ideas of how they will want to decorate their new rooms
Make time to visit favourite places and people.
Give them a small address book and encourage them to exchange addresses and phone numbers with their friends.
Extend invitations to their friends to come and stay once you are settled in your new house.
Caution your children if you are moving to a radically different environment, such as moving from the city to the country or vice-versa.
The more they know what to expect, the more confident and optimistic they will be.
ON THE DAY:
Moving Treats - Pack a few of your children's favourite toys, books and snacks to enjoy during the move.
Safety First - Check your own home for potential accident producers, such as loose steps, builder's rubble, dangerous areas such as unfenced pools and open gates.
Time Out - Don't try to get everything done the minute you arrive. As soon as you complete most of the packing, take a break with the family.
Packing a picnic for this purpose before you leave is a great way to unwind for a while with your children.
AFTER THE MOVE:
Time In - Spend as much time with your children as you can, and let them tell you everything about their new school and friends
Some children may not find it easy to begin
Follow their progress carefully, and if you detect any concerns that do not fade away, do not hesitate to visit their teacher.
You may find it a good idea to accompany them to school for the first few days.
Be aware of the signs - Younger children may revert to baby behaviour. Be reassuring rather than scolding, and they should soon return to regular routine.
Consult your doctor if any unusual behaviour continues, such as loss of appetite, insomnia, and constipation.
And advise your doctor that you have recently moved house.
What To Do When You First Move In
A house full of moving boxes can be overwhelming. Make a plan before you start unpacking.
Know where you want to put things you'll be using, and what will go into storage.
Unpack first the things your household needs to function: sheets and towels, kitchen gear, clothes.
Here are some other tips for making your arrival as smooth as possible:
Arrange for the telephone and utilities to be switched on the day you move in.
If you are having any contracting work done before you move in, you may want to have them switched on as soon as the previous owners vacate.
Arrange for special services.
Such services may include cable television service or local newspaper delivery.
Change the locks on all entry doors as this ensures that only you and your household will have access to your house.
Collapse your boxes for storage or recycling.
Save any boxes you need to repack items for storage.
Settle your children into school.
If you're moving to a new school district, you'll need to enrol your children if you haven't already done so.
Be sure you have their medical records with you; most schools require immunisation and physical records before they will accept a student.
Complete any changes of the address you may have postponed as this may mean sending notices to family and friends, magazines, professional, or any other group you belong.
Change your driver's license and car registration.
Different rules apply in different states.
Check your state's requirements.
Change your voter's registration.
Start a log of repairs, remodelling, and major maintenance projects.
It may seem premature, but it's a good habit to get creative.