Children can find a house move either really exciting, or completely unsettling. Often a combination of the two. As a parent, you can make a big difference as to which way they react. While moving house is sometimes stressful for you, you can make it far more pleasant for the kids and even enjoy it yourself – using these simple tricks and tips.
Set aside a day to spend with your child, packing up their room. Make it one of the last days available before moving day, so that they don’t have to sleep in an empty shell. A kid’s room is their refuge, and their toys and even rubbish provides them with a lot of comfort. Stripping it bare and making it clean and sanitised for the new occupants is necessary, but shouldn’t be done too soon. In an ideal world, once the room IS packed and cleansed, let them go for an exciting sleepover with friends or family until they can create their own bastion in the new house.
Devoting a whole day to their room removes the time pressure. Spend it together, put on some music and make it fun, a big game. Involve your child and certainly don’t ban them from the process. Make them in charge as much as possible, with you there simply to help. This will make them feel important and responsible. Come armed with all the tools you’ll need: all the packing materials and boxes, bin bags and snacks.
Do a little dressing up. In order to only pack what still fits, why not get your child to try on clothes that look of dubious size! While clothes don’t usually hold as much importance for a kid as toys, they can become very attached to some things … even if they’re two sizes too small. On the other hand, you don’t want to be packing and moving several boxes of clothes that they never wear. So, it’s a give and take process. Help them to make the decisions: “do you think we should give this to cousin xxx to love now, or should we give it to charity?” Let them keep a small number of the much beloved items.
It’s the same when it comes to toys. You’ll know, and so will they, that they never play with some things any more. But, when you discover them stashed away under the bed, they may well suddenly become the BEST THING EVER for a while. So let them play. But gently introduce whether it might be better for a much littler boy or girl to enjoy it now. Again, you’ll have to compromise on some items and it can be really upsetting to get utterly ruthless, chucking out everything that’s outgrown, broken or now redundant.
Put aside a special box. This should be for things that will be needed right up to the last minute, including pyjamas, spare pants, favourite books, the most loved toys and more. Let your child choose what goes in this box, maybe even decorating it. Let them go wild with the colouring in. This is the one box that’s left unsealed and with them at all times, even coming in the car with you on the move. This can be a real reassurance for children, having their little piece of home, with comforting smells and familiar favourites.
Regular encouragement and cuddles are great. For you, as well. Keep reinforcing how great their new room and house is going to be, pausing to look at pictures of it. For you, chucking out a torn piece of paper may seem obvious … but for them it could be like parting with a much-loved friend. So be gentle, keep the laughter and the games going and life will be very much easier for everyone in the family.
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