Moving can be a difficult experience for families—and especially for children—even if just around the corner.
This is because—like many of us—children thrive in stable and nurturing environments that are governed by routine. They take comfort in generally knowing what to expect from their daily lives. While some change can be reasonably expected, sudden and dramatic disruptions can be extremely distressing and negatively affect a child’s sense of security.
Sometimes, in the course of landing our dream jobs or scoring our dream homes, etc., we can forget about the level of disruption that moving causes in our children’s lives. While moving can sometimes be for the best—an inevitable part of life that one must get used to—it can be extremely taxing on young ones who may not know how to process the emotions they are feeling.
Additionally, children of different ages will react differently to the news. While moving is likely to have little effect on kids under the age of 5, since they are still incapable of creating long-term memories, children between the ages of 5 and 12 have begun to develop personality and social bonds, and thus are more likely to struggle with the news.
There are, however, a number of ways to ease the pressure of moving on your children—starting from the second you announce the move to your family.
As soon as the relocation is confirmed, begin discussing it with your children. Speak to them rationally, like adults. Explain why you are moving and try to assuage their questions and fears to the best of your ability. Help them to see the upside of moving, new opportunities, etc., and expect them to react with sadness, anger, and/or resentment.
Talking through the pain is key to emotionally processing and accepting difficult changes in our lives. This is the lesson of the 2016 film, Inside Out, produced by Disney-Pixar—an essential text for children who find themselves in a similar situation, processing similar emotions. So, make sure that Disney+ subscription is paid up as well!
Put yourself in their shoes. They are being asked to leave the only home they have ever known, watching their surroundings change and objects slowly disappear into boxes around them while wondering if they are ever going to see their family and friends regularly again. This is terrifying for anyone!
By trying to see things from their perspective, you will be better equipped to understand their emotional reaction to the events, which—in turn—will help you to be more empathetic, provide a requisite amount of comfort and attention, and address any changes in behaviour that might arise as a result of the situation.
After your child has begun to process the move, take them for a tour around the new neighbourhood! Show them the house (if you can), take them by their next school or daycare centre, explore nearby landmarks—parks, libraries, entertainment or recreational spots, etc.—to help them get comfortable with their new surroundings and understand how much fun you will have in your new home!
If distance makes this task impossible, try describing it to them or showing them pictures or videos of the area!
It is also a good idea to create keepsakes of your old home during this time. Taking lots of pictures and videos of the old house can help ease the transition of moving, providing your child with some visual memories to hold onto until they become fully comfortable in their new surroundings.
Sometimes, while dedicating so much time to making sure everyone around us is comfortable, that things will all go smoothly on moving day, etc., we forget to take care of ourselves.
There is nothing selfish about taking time to care for our own mental health and well-being. Remember—you also deserve the opportunity to process the immensity of the situation, so take time to slow down and rest. For some moving self-care tips, check out this excellent blog from Connecticut’s Hands On Moving and Storage.
Ready to plan your move? Our REALTORS® would be happy to show you all that this great region has to offer. Call our office at 905-687-9229 in St. Catharines, or 905-468-9229 in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Or send us a message on our contact page, HERE.