Expert tips to make moving home with children easier

  • How drawing their new home will help children settle in
  • The importance of planning an advance visit to the new neighbourhood
  • Making their first night in the new home special

Credits: Dr Jennie Duprey is a professional  psychologist specialising in child and adolescent mental health

 

 

For children, moving home can mean leaving everything that’s familiar to them: their house or flat, their friends, the local area, and their school. They may need some extra attention from you to help them through the changes. These tips will help you to make it a little easier for you both whatever their age.

 

Infants (3 to 6 years)

Younger children need to feel familiarity and affinity with their environment. Building positive associations of their new home and understanding what is happening on the move day is crucial to their wellbeing.

 

Preparing to move

  • Tell your children that you’re moving as soon as possible – they need time to get used to the idea
  • Help them to build an image of their new home, either through visits or with photos. To visualise it better, give them a drawing of a similar house to colour in
  • Keep their meal and bedtime routines consistent
  • Let them know that you are feeling the same mixture of emotions about moving

 

Day of the move

  • Pack them a special bag of their favourite snacks and toys
  • Explain exactly what will be happening today – whether they are staying with family, or going to nursery or school and then coming back to their new home
  • By bedtime, make their new bed with their favourite toys arranged on it. Have their pyjamas, bedtime books, and anything else to hand that will help them slip straight into a familiar, comforting routine
  • Reassure them by telling them positive or funny stories about other people, including yourself, who have moved home

 

Primary school children (7 to 10 years)

Primary school age children are more aware of the changes around the move and how they will affect their newly formed friendships. They need to understand and feel positive about the changes the move will make to their lives, and have some ownership about decisions.

 

Preparing to move

  • Talk about the move well in advance to help them prepare and feel positive about it
  • Get them to draw the new house – with your family in it
  • Let them have some control by getting them to choose the paint colour or a new quilt cover for their room
  • Get them to pack up and label some of their own boxes
  • Take them on visits to the new neighbourhood, exploring anything they’re interested in like parks, the local cinema, or pool
  • If they’re changing schools then visit their new school with them, particularly any after-school clubs they might like to join. Try and find like-minded parents nearby with children of the same age and socialise beforehand if you can

 

Day of the move

  • Unpack their room first so that they can settle as quickly as possible
  • Keep the boxes with their personal belongings packed separately so they can start to unpack them as soon as their bedroom furniture is in place
  • As tired as you may be, try to make the first night special – even if it’s fish and chips by candlelight in your new kitchen, followed by a favourite film on a sofa surrounded by packing boxes

 

Secondary school (11 to 16 years)

Secondary school age children are very aware that the move could have major consequences for their routine, education and relationships with their friends. They need to have more say about the changes to their home environment, and also take more responsibility to support their parents with the home move tasks.

 

Preparing to move

  • Have a fun day out in the new area before you move: find the local cinema, shops, recreational areas and their favourite activities
  • Help them to feel positive about their new space by creating a mood board to design their new room scheme
  • Cut down on disruption to their studies by scheduling moving day around the school calendar and after important exams
  • Talk to them about staying in touch with friends and schedule visits back to see them – it’s important that they don’t feel like they are losing friendships before they have time to make new ones
  • Treat their concerns with respect, letting them know you understand and want to help

 

Day of the move

  • Assign them responsibilities, such as taking care of their siblings, to give them something to focus on. Or send them to the cinema and get them to bring lunch back afterwards
  • Ask the removals company to put their boxes in the van last, so they can be unpacking their room while you’re busy everywhere else
  • Help them to decorate their new room as soon as possible

 

 

 

Moving Home? If you’re a British Gas customer, it’s easy to let us know here

 

 

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