6 Ways to Make Moving Easier on Young Children
When your children are ages three to six, home means everything to them. So, how can you move from one home to another with minimal anxiety and stress for your little one(s)?
Pack a “Moving Adventure Bag”
Create a special bag that includes a couple favorite toys, their favorite book, blanket, snacks, and other comfort items. This will be their “room-in-a-bag” that stays with them even as their old room gets packed up, and before their new room is assembled.
Other things in life may be changing, but these items, and easy access to them, will be a much-needed constant. It’s a helpful transitional tool.
Give the Gift of a Flashlight!
Adding a flashlight to their moving adventure bag will help make the changes in environment less scary during the transition—both in the old house, as furniture moves and boxes are added, and in the new, unfamiliar house.
For instance, you can work with your little one to explore their old room, as well as their new room. You may need to show them how to point the flashlight, but soon they should be able to take charge. Try taking these steps:
- Go into their old room, turn off the lights, and explore the corners with the flashlight
- Look inside the closet
- Look under the bed
- Count the surfaces: walls, ceiling, floor
- Repeat the same “moving adventure” in their new room, at the new house
Having a flashlight gives them increased autonomy and confidence. Being able to handle a flashlight to look in closets, under beds, and in corners will make it easier for your child to become comfortable with a new floor plan, even at night.
Plan an Outing
Pack a lunch and go “have a picnic” in the new house—on their bedroom floor. Be sure to pack their favorite foods. While you are eating, play an imagination game and ask them what things they would like to do in their new room, once they move in.
Help Them Visualize Living There
Take a photo of your child in their new room, then print out a copy of that photo. Tape it at eye level in their current room, on their door, or on the fridge in the old house. This can be done as soon as the contract is signed, so they have time to think about the new room, get comfortable with it, and “see” themselves in the new house.
Talk with them about the picture, asking “Where would your favorite teddy like to be in this new room?” or “Where would you like to put your bed? By the windows? On that wall?” Help them imagine themselves and their things in the new space.
If their outside play space is also changing significantly—such as moving from the city into the country, or from an apartment to a house with a yard—be sure to also get a photo of the child in the new outdoor space. Likewise, if moving from a place with a yard into the city or into an apartment, take them to visit the nearest park and take photos of them playing there.
You may want to create a small flip-book of photos to tuck into their moving adventure bag so they can review the new places and share their excitement with their friends, grandparents, and even with you!
Set Up Their Room First
This can be done easily by having them use a sleeping bag and their pillow to “camp out” in their old room the last couple of days before the move. Go ahead and move their familiar furniture into the new room and set it up first—so when they arrive, it will already come close to feeling like “theirs.”
If the child is particularly hesitant or anxious about the move, you may want to set up their room’s furniture as close to the old layout as possible. Once they settle in, you can rearrange and make an event out of redecorating their room. You can even plan to go shopping for a new color to paint their room (that they help pick out) to gain more personal buy-in from the child.
Help Celebrate the Milestones
Buy a small gift and wrap it, or have it wrapped, beautifully. Put it in plain view in their room. Tell them that the morning after their first full night of sleeping in their new room, they will get to open their “new room” gift. This will give them something positive to anticipate about the move and may help prevent them from reverting to crawling into bed with you!
Anxiety stems from feeling helpless and fear of the unknown. By giving your child special tools and taking steps to build confidence and familiarity with their new home, you can help them adapt more quickly.