A great friend recently moved several hours away to a cottage on a nature preserve. For most families, moving can be hectic no matter where you live. Visiting her new home brought back fresh memories of our three moves in seven months before renovating the Healthy Home Project. Despite a sea of packing boxes and a new school for the kids, a few things made the transitions smoother, and healthier:
1) Explaining things to the kids early on, and enlisting their help: This will vary depending on children’s ages and stages, but getting it out into the open made things a whole lot easier. Talking about the things we’d miss and the positives on the other end was helpful, too. KidsHealth.org has specific tips for talking to children of different ages.
2) Enlisting help of friends and family: A working plan with days when help is needed can give much-needed structure during times of busy transition. During one of our moves a friend and her daughter helped for an hour transporting dishes. A small block of time can mean the world.
3) Keeping routines the same: With all the change afoot, continuing little everyday rituals can bring comfort to the whole family, kids especially. Eating meals at the same time, connecting with friends, and bedtime routines can all be kept to one degree or another, even if the scenery is different.
4) Having an “essentials” bag for each person: Kids can help pack their own, with books, stuffed animals and anything else familiar and well-loved. Activities like small games can be helpful too. Ditto for any items that would be missed if lost among the packing boxes.
4) Giving back and giving thanks: We used the opportunity of downsizing to give away anything that wasn’t essential. Opportunities to give back can help offset moving stress. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists other great tips for minimizing stress during a move.
When it’s over and the last box is unpacked (even if that’s many months later), the fresh surroundings can be good for all and can help shape kids – and the whole family – with a new perspective.