Most people move over 10 times throughout their lives, but for young children, moving often means leaving their first and only home. A child’s world is much smaller, and leaving behind familiar people and surroundings can be quite daunting. If you have a move coming up, here are five tips to make the experience more enjoyable for the junior members of your family.
- Talk it through. Make the move a family affair by including your kids in the process, from looking at potential homes to unloading boxes. Create an open conversation by checking in often to see how they are feeling and talking through any concerns. Once you have purchased a home, ask your kids how they plan to decorate and set-up their new room. Feeling involved will make the move more exciting and give them an added sense of control.
- Pack some memories. Susan Clayton, an environmental psychologist, explains that our childhood homes remain iconic throughout our lives. If you are leaving a home that is meaningful to your kids, consider bringing along a memento; you could take a photograph of your favourite room, pack a piece of wallpaper, trace a growth chart from the wall, or transfer a flower or plant to your new home. Bringing along a piece of your old home will make it feel less like goodbye.
- Let them help. If your child is old enough, ask them to help pack their room, and show them how to label boxes and sort through clutter. If they are unwilling to part with any belongings, explain the importance of donating unused clothes or toys that could benefit other children. Not only will they feel more involved, but they will also understand what the moving process is all about. (Hint: Make sure not to pack certain essentials, such as a beloved teddy bear or favourite outfit. Keep these items to the side or pack them in an easily accessible box.)
- Explore your new home. After purchasing a home, get your kids excited by visiting your new neighbourhood either in person or via Google Maps. Plan a bucket list of activities you want to try as a family, such as visiting the local park or ice cream parlor. Being able to visualize life in a new home makes the moving process less of an unknown and gives kids something fun to look forward to.
- Say goodbye – or “see you soon.” Plan a time to say “see you soon” to the people and places that were meaningful to your family. Make a point of visiting important spots, such as your favourite breakfast restaurant or playground, and host a BBQ with your neighbourhood friends. If it makes sense distance-wise, plan a return visit for after your move so your kids know they are not saying goodbye forever. If this is not plausible, exchange phone numbers and email addresses to stay in touch. Giving your home and neighbourhood a proper send off will help your kids close one chapter and start a new one.
We hope you feel better prepared to make the moving process fun for you and your children. If you are looking for a new home for your family, take a look at our listings in the Ottawa area.
Do you have any additional tips for moving with kids? Share them with us in the comments.