A move is not just an ordinary change in the life of a family. From the discussions in the couple to the fatigue of the moving, it goes through stressful situations that affect everyone, but especially your kids. It is likely that at one time or another we are immersed in a change of home, so here we leave the keys to survive during a move with children.
It is logical that a change of this kind affects the children’s sleep, their humor, their appetite… But we want to minimize these effects and also, in some way, prevent major problems.
The childhood trauma as a consequence of the move has recently been studied by a team of researchers in the United Kingdom and Denmark. They have concluded that there are possible long-term adverse effects after family relocation, especially its effect is more intense if kids are in their adolescence (among others, risk of suicide, substance abuse, violent crime, mental disorders).
But, even thinking that these are exceptional and extreme cases, we can prevent those other negative consequences of the removals for the children and the whole family.
It can be a move to a new neighborhood, a new city, a new country, especially it’s stressful in the latter case, when you leave the old home, family and friends far away, and you have to change schools, often language – anything could happen. Adapting to a new environment always involves a certain degree of fear, anxiety.
In these situations, the babies are probably the ones who perceive the change the least and adapt more quickly (although this does not mean that they will not notice the stress around which can affect them for several days). Up to three years old children also adapt easily, especially if we keep the previous routines.
There are more problems after four or five years, when children are more aware of the change (even if they do not understand it). They know that they leave behind their home, their school, their family, their friends and those of them with nervous parents are affected much more. Let’s turn to the concrete advise so that the move will go in the best possible way.
How to survive during a relocation with children: step by step process
- One of the most important tips is that parents have to stay calm as much as possible, for their own good and their children. In this sense, we also have to avoid discussions with the kids.
- If we maintain a positive and happy attitude towards the change, in a certain way they will “get infected”.
- It is advisable to prepare the children before carrying out the move, taking into account the particular needs of each child, explaining clearly and sincerely the reasons for the move, without thinking that it is something arbitrary, which would hinder understanding and acceptance. Whatever the reason for the transfer, they should know about it.
- We can, realistically, highlight the positive qualities of the place to which we move (city, neighborhood, home) so that children can see an incentive. Never idealize the new destiny too.
- In relation to the previous point, visit the new place you are going to live in (if it is not possible, look for the information online to see that new city or country has to offer).
- It is better to know the attractions and incentives of this new environment, taking into account the tastes of each child (leisure facilities, sports, culture, nature).
- Children should know stories of other families to whom a move brought the advantages and positive things, and in this sense we can also resort to humor films, stories for the children, but always avoiding sweetening and idealization.
- For the children of school age, it is advisable to gather as much information as possible about their new school, facilities. If it is possible to visit it before, it will improve the adaptation.
- Regarding logistics, we must ensure that all the belongings of the child will be delivered without problems, that their toys, their clothes won’t be lost. Having everything well-packed will help the installation in the new home.
- Involve children in decorating the new house, especially their room. They can help choose and assemble furniture, choose paintings, posters, accessories such as bedspread or pillows for bed.
- If the house is near the old residence and the transfer can be carried out gradually, the child will love to help with the move and gradually organize his room, leaving his toys and other possessions.
- Once the move has been completed, it is necessary to try as far as possible to return to the routines prior to the transfer, such as meal and dinner schedules, bathing, going to bed. With this normality, the change does not It will be so abrupt.
- If the family has just gone through a traumatic situation (divorce, death), it would be better to postpone the move for a while not to add this pressure to the children. By giving them (and giving us) time to adapt to the new family situation, we establish firmer foundations to start another important change such as a move.
Most experts point out that the best time to make a move is in the summer, during a school holiday period, because in this way the course is not interrupted for children who are already in school.
It may take more or less time, because in the end the feeling of insecurity is logical in a non-recognizable environment. But even two little brothers can present many differences during a move, for example if one of them is more open and extroverted, he will be able to make new friends with ease. Then, we will have to serve each one the best way.
It is important to talk to them and answer all the children’s questions with the utmost sincerity, because the more information they have, the better they will understand the situation and will have the less fear of the unknown.
The main advice for surviving during a move with children is the open and positive attitude with which parents should face the change, because in this way we transmit security to the children. If you are in this situation or have gone through it, do not forget to tell us how everything happened in your case.