Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 tips to ease kids' moving anxiety.

Moving is never easy.... That's quite an understatement if you ask me.

There's all the planning, packing, cleaning, throwing stuff out, saying goodbyes.

Then you add children to the mix and things just got exponentially more difficult. You now have to deal with their stress and anxiety along with yours.

That's our reality at this moment. In the midst of all the packing, cleaning, runs to the storage facility, the kids are being neglected. Lets add guilt to the list of emotions. In the end, everything will work out and the kids will be fine. I'm confident about that. I'm also confident that this move will be very good for us. It will bring change in so many ways....a change of scenery, a change of routine, a change of pace, a change of lifestyle and the list goes on.

All of that is good...very good....but it doesn't make me feel any less guilty right now, at this very moment or when I spent an entire day cleaning out the basement and the kids in turn spent almost as much time watching tv or on the computer.


I took notice and decided to do something about it.....Not to clear my conscience but to get my kids more involved in this process. Ok, to clear my conscience a little bit.

Here are my 5 tips to help kids through a move:
  • Talk to your children constantly. Let them express how they're feeling. Remember, that no matter what those feelings are, they are still valid. They are real for the child. Acknowledge them, discuss them and accept them.

  • Don't try to convince your child. One of my children was not excited at all about moving. It was hard to hear because I felt we were doing what was in the best interest of the whole family, including the children. While I talked about all the new things to look forward to, I didn't try to force her to get on board. I knew that would take time.

  • Get the children involved in as many aspects of moving as possible. For us, that meant that we included our children in the decision making process. We let them, even encouraged them, to contribute ideas. This was one of the most important aspects to make the move easier. They helped us decide what to keep, sell, store or giveaway. And it wasn't always easy. Sometimes they wanted to keep everything and I had to guide them to the right decision. But for the most part, they were really good about making those decisions on their own. Even my 7 year old.

  • Read books together. For the 7 year old, I found some age appropriate books at the library and we read them almost everyday as we prepared for the move. As we read, we talked about the character's feelings and how they were similar to what we were experiencing. For the older child, I had her read about our destination. I asked her to come up with interesting things for us to do and discover once we arrived. Since she's always on the internet, she loved researching and telling me what she'd discovered.

    1. Take the time to say goodbye. We were short on time, but I made sure to travel a couple of hours so my kids could go see their cousins and say goodbye. This was especially important for us since our move was overseas and we knew we wouldn't be seeing any family for quite a while. We also said goodbye to our house, our town, our favorite spots.
    Bonus: I thought it would be good for my 7 year old to feel in control at this time in our lives when everything seemed so chaotic, so I gave her a camera and encouraged her to document the move and anything else she wanted to remember. She loved the idea and took tons of pictures of moving boxes, empty rooms and even her favorite places around the neighborhood.

    Just remember, that as much as it is a difficult, sad, and busy time for you, it is very confusing, sad and scary for children. They need to feel a sense of belonging and normalcy in the middle of the frenzy. But with a little thought and planning, a big family move can go semi-smoothly, because, honestly, that was all I was hoping for.