Kids often find a strong sense of security in their surroundings, so when the family needs to move – whether it’s across town, or across the world – the change can be rough. We have a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a four-month-old, and when the baby was just 3 weeks old we made the decision to move across the country to find better employment and be closer to family in the process.
The baby feels secure as long as he’s with mama, so that was easy. The older two had a much harder time adjusting. We had a 6-week stay with my parents, and now we are in a new (temporary for 6 months) place. We’ve been here for about 3 weeks now, and the kids are finally getting adjusted.
Since this is my oldest’s sixth home in his little life, we’ve learned a thing or two about moving with kids. Here are some of my best tips.
1) Bring their favourite toys in your suitcase.
Even if you are arriving at your permanent destination immediately after your travels, I would advise packing a few favourite toys in with the rest of your essentials so that you don’t have to dig through boxes to find them. The minute you walk in the door you can give your child something familiar to help in those first hours and days.
2) Show them maps.
I flew with the kids (we moved just over 2,000 miles), but my hubby and his dad drove our van, hauling a u-haul trailer across the country, which took five days. Each day I showed the kids the map of Canada, and pointed out where he was.
I also showed them where our old town was and where our new city is. That seemed to really help them understand the concept of being so far away.
3) Connect with their hearts.
We found it to be just so vital to always connect emotionally with the kids. Their behaviour was naturally affected and required extra doses of patience and talking through Big Feelings. We encouraged grieving as we talked through how they missed certain friends, things about our old town, etc.
We made sure to listen when they wanted to talk (mostly the four-year-old) and sometimes asked how they were doing with it. It was also important to be sensitive to their sense of security in new places, like church nurseries, etc (they are much more reluctant to leave my side right now, but we are seeing improvement). We follow their lead in all of this.
4) Don’t sell without asking first.
If you are selling any of their belongings, be sure to ask for permission first! We sold most of our stuff and only brought what fit into a 7×11 trailer. I always made sure to ask Isaac first before selling things like his sandbox, any of his toys, etc.
Sometimes I had to reassure him that we’d buy new ones at our destination, and he was ok with it. Be sensitive to their desires and feelings about items that may not seem all that important to you. If you don’t, you may lose your child’s full trust.
5) Make a plan for fun stuff in the new place.
Our first (temporary) destination was my parents’ house, and they had set out all of their toys (they have special “Grammy & Grandpa’s house” toys) ahead of time. This made walking in the door so much easier because there were all kinds of new toys to play with.
If you’re going to arrive in an empty place with all of your stuff, pack a few new toys or fun activities with you to pull out as soon as you arrive. This helps make moving an exciting event rather than focusing on the negative.
6) Keep the routine the same.
We made the not-so-smart mistake of thinking this would be a good time to transition our 2-year-old out of her crib. In hindsight? Bad idea! She cried so much that first night – she was overwhelmed, exhausted, and missing her Daddy. The better thing would have been to keep as much of her routine the same as possible, including having a crib ready for her to sleep in.
7) Take a few days of quiet before planning too much.
When you arrive at your destination, be sure to stick close to home for a day or two. Let the kids take their time (and you, too!) in acclimating to a new environment. Let everything be slow and easy for a few days while you figure out stuff like where your clean underwear is, where you packed the “fill-in-the-blank-here”.
Moving can be rough for all of us. Thankfully, family is a stronger bond than a physical place can ever be. Wherever you go, whatever you do, try to remember this simple truth (in this beautiful print from a talented etsy seller…)
Beth is a natural redhead, wife to a pilot husband and mama to (almost) 3 little ones. She is passionate about missions, motherhood, and finding the beauty in everyday life. She blogs from the Canadian prairies about the art and soul of audacious homemaking at Red & Honey.