Moving an entire home is stressful, and takes a lot out of us as adults. But for kids, their whole world gets turned upside down when moving from one home to another. Not only must they get used to a new home, but also a new neighborhood, new friends, and possibly a new school. If it’s a long distance move, kids can even have a harder time adjusting. In this post we will cover everything you need to know about helping your children transition into your new home.
Our kids are two and seven years old. While our oldest moved across the country with us when he was two years old, this move was a big one for him at his age because he is leaving behind his school, his friends and all he has ever known. Knowing we were moving months in advance helped get both children emotionally prepared. We started talking about the move, showed them the spot on the map we would be moving to and included them in our home search using Homes.com. When it came to packing, loading the moving truck and cleaning the house before we moved, we gave them each a task to make them feel equal in this move with us.
Once we were on our way, reality started to set in and our oldest began to unravel. Emotions were strong, so I knew the second we arrived at our new home, I wanted to make the experience as comforting as possible.
The first thing I did upon arrival to our new home was let the kids run in and explore their bedrooms. This is always the most fun and exciting part for kids! But, the excitement doesn’t last too long, so here are my tips for making your new home an inviting one for your children:
1. Fill Your Home With Familiar Scents
One of our strongest senses is smell, and new homes can often carry a scent of the people who lived there before you. The first thing I do is light a familiar candle or diffuse essential oils that my children will recognize. I also made sure that, before we moved, I had their sheets freshly washed and packed them with my favorite dryer sheets. This helps calm their senses and relax, making them instantly feel at home.
2. Welcome Them Home
A fun little idea I had for my kids this move was creating “welcome home” baskets for each of them. This not only helps with those new home jitters but also helps keep them entertained while you unload and unpack. Win-win! Each basket was filled with bubbles, their favorite snacks, a new bedtime book, a nightlight, a cuddle buddy, and removable stickers for the windows and walls to help them feel like they were decorating their own room.
3. Set Up Their Rooms First
I know, I know, you have a whole house to put together… but, when moving with young children I urge you to focus on their rooms first. Set up their beds, put their clothes away and find a place for all of their toys. This will help your children feel comfortable in their own space, and with toys in their places your children can stay entertained while you get to work on the rest of the house.
4. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Once you are ready for a break from all the unpacking, one of the best ways you can help your children explore your new neighborhood and meet new friends is to go on a scavenger hunt! I created a printable version so you can have fun exploring your own neighborhood.
5. Forts Are Fun!
After all of those boxes are unpacked, let the kids have some fun! Make box forts and create an arsenal of packing paper “bombs” for a good ol’ fashioned paper ball fight!
6. Navigate Feelings
Help your child through their feelings and change. If your child is still struggling with missing their old home, friends, and neighborhood, we were given this next activity from our therapist: Take a large sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Have your child draw on one side what they left behind, and on the other side, everything they have, want or wish for their new home. When we did this with our little one, he started off with a lot on the “left behind” side, but the more we did this exercise (once a week), the more he began to put on the other side. Allowing your kids to draw out in picture form helps them to navigate feelings that they may not have the words to tell you.
7. Make Memories
Lastly, to help your children close one chapter and open another, include them in making a memory scrapbook of your old home and friends. Let this be something fun for them. It’s not meant to be perfect. Gather up stickers, colorful paper, pens and printed photographs. I suggest getting a 1/2” binder, page protector sheets and 8.5 x 11” sheets of scrapbook paper to decorate. The kids can create each page how they want it to be, slide it into the page protectors and you have an easy and cheap scrapbook with all of their old memories, and it’s a book that they created themselves.
We have done each of these with our own children, and while they do miss their old friends quite a bit, they have made more friends here than they ever have. Our new neighborhood has Friday night get-togethers at the park where the kids play and we all order pizza. The weekends are filled with days at our neighborhood pool and the kids are always running around playing some kind of pretend game. There are so many more positives to our new home than negatives, and while it may take kids a little longer to see it, they will get there, with a little bit of love, comforting and fun along the way.