Time and time again, moving is listed as one of the top 10 most stressful life events. In fact, a recent survey conducted in the UK found moving to be the number 1 stress inducer, coming in before divorce or starting a new job! Since home is considered to be our “safe place”, disrupting routine, comfort and security through a move can cause intense feelings of anxiety in adults and children alike.
In Moving is Tough for Kids, Psychology Today refers to a new study that states, “…frequent moves are tough on kids and disrupt important friendships. These effects are most problematic for kids who are introverted and those whose personalities tend toward anxiety and inflexibility. Specifically, adults who moved frequently as kids have fewer high-quality relationships and tend to score lower on well-being and life satisfaction.”It goes on to say that while frequent moves, or even an once-in-a-lifetime move can be problematic, “When parents support each other and work hard to make the move as easy for themselves and their kids as possible, negative effects are minimized.”
If you are considering moving your family this year, summer – which provides limited school and work schedules – is the best time to do so. This timeline; however, doesn’t work for everyone. If you have to move during the winter, spring or fall months, you may be wondering how you can help make this process easier emotionally. Here are 3 simple tips to help make your move a positive emotional experience for your child(ren), instead of a negative one.
1.) Allow everyone to be a part of the hunt for a new home
Allow your child(ren) to be a part of the house-hunting process, having them draw pictures of what they would like to see in their new home and room, and what they envision their lives being there. Even though you may not be able to accommodate the unicorn farm they ask for, or the fire pole leading down into the kitchen, they will feel as if their opinions matter, and walk into a home feeling confident and secure.
2.) Visit Your New Neighborhood Often
Bring your child(ren) for long walks, drives and shopping/dining excursions within your new neighborhood so that they can become familiar with their new setting. If you are moving to a new state or several hours away, this may not be an option. Instead, consider doing google satellite tours online, as well as taking out some books on your new location at your local library.
3.) Have a comfort box on-hand to unpack immediately
Be sure to have a box of comforting items on hand that can unpacked as soon as you move into your new home. Your child(ren) will feel comforted by the familiarity of things they love, providing a sense of warmth and security. Consider wrapping the box to make it extra exciting to open, including some fun, new “busy” activities they can take part in while you unpack.
Remember, while moving can be chaotic, there are steps you can take to help minimize clutter. Utilizing self-storage is a great way to keep boxes out of site, allowing your old and new home to feel a bit more normal, even if they are little bare. Best of all, by keeping boxes in storage, you can pack and unpack in an organized manner, rather than having belongings everywhere throughout the entire process.
Every child reacts differently, so be sensitive to their needs. As always, if you feel your child is reacting in an extreme manner, consider having them speak with a counselor to help them move forward in a healthy, harmonious way.
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” -Mother Teresa