1. Helping Your Family Prepare for the Move

Moving home can be a very disruptive time for your family and leaving happy memories, friends and loved ones behind can prove painful for the whole family. Our aim is to help you support your family in coping with the emotions and fears that often arise when moving from the family home.

Preparing Your Children for the Move

If you have children, moving home can be a really difficult and traumatic upheaval for them. The impact of moving on children can be as varied as their personalities. Some children may take the move in their stride or, if you are lucky, be very excited by it! Try to keep in mind that your children may not react exactly how you expect them to as it is likely to be a completely new experience to them. Even if your child takes the news extremely well, they might not fully understand what the move will mean or cost them. Above all, give each member of your family reassurance that they were given careful consideration in the decision to move and that as a family you will help each other cope.

  • Talk to Your Children Early

    Talk to your children early. You may be feeling apprehensive about telling your children about the move, perhaps you don’t want to ruin Christmas or a birthday and you’ll know what is best for your children. However, keep in mind that telling your children early gives them as much time as possible to get used to the idea. Telling your kids early can reduce the shock of the rug being pulled from under their feet. However we understand that you may not always have the luxury of allowing the news to settle in and some moves are unavoidably sudden. If this is the case, try and give your child as much information about their new home as possible beforehand.

  • Acknowledge the Significance of the Move

    Most of all, try to accept and acknowledge all of your children’s feelings, concerns and attitudes and take the good with the bad. Let your children know that it is okay to feel anxious, worried or angry. While adults tend to focus on the practical aspects of a move, children of most ages will be more inclined to focus on all the losses that the move will bring. To your child, the loss of friends and familiar surroundings also comes with the loss of a sense of belonging. Expressing an understanding of their problems, however trivial it may seem in the bigger picture, can go a long way to help your children face the changes ahead.

    “My main advice would be that parents should recognise the significance of the move for children, and that it can feel very difficult and frightening for a child.”
    Dr. Katherine Edward DClinPsych, Ph.D., MA, AFBPsS. Chartered & Clinical Psychologist (dredward.co.uk)
  • Set Realistic Expectations

    Faced with a worried child, you might be tempted to tell them that everything will be fantastic and everything will be better after the move but try to set realistic expectations for your children. As much as you want to communicate all the positive things that will come with the move, be careful not to raise great and unrealistic expectations, making more room for disappointment. Explain to your children that you’ll also have to make new friends in your new town or community and that it might take some time to settle in and for it to feel like home.

    “As with anything, it is always important to listen to children and if they are expressing worries try not to reassure (“it’ll be fine”) too swiftly, but to let them know you truly hear what they are worried about. Then they themselves can feel these worries are properly shared, understood and more manageable”
    Dr. Katherine Edward DClinPsych, Ph.D., MA, AFBPsS. Chartered & Clinical Psychologist (dredward.co.uk)
  • Try to Dispel the Fear of the Unknown

    If possible, try to take your children to see their new home and school as many times as feasible. Children can be really frightened by the aspect of change and moving from the only home they have known can feel to them like their world is collapsing. Try to remind your children that home can be made in many places and can also be made wherever their loved ones are too. Make sure your children know that they can ask you any question and you'll give them an honest answer. It might be a good idea to use stories or movies to help your younger children understand their situation. Finding a character your younger children can relate to might be a good way to better help them understand and cope with their feelings. If you’ll need to organise new childcare, you should look into what is available as soon as you know you’re moving so you can familiarise your little one with their new nursery or child-minder and begin to introduce the idea of the transition before the move.

    “We might know as adults what a house move looks like, but for children they may have no template to understand what is coming up. Children generally do not like change anyway, and it can be hard to understand why they are not excited about a bigger house, for example, when the thought of moving from where they feel secure is making them anxious.”
    Dr. Katherine Edward DClinPsych, Ph.D., MA, AFBPsS. Chartered & Clinical Psychologist (dredward.co.uk)
  • Try and Maintain a Positive Attitude

    During times of transition, younger children often look to their parents to understand their own feelings and can often mirror their reactions. A parent’s attitude during an emotional time can greatly affect how their child handles their own emotions. Younger children will be looking for reassurance so ensure that you give them plenty and try to remain as positive as you can around them. However, older children may relate more to honesty and openness. It may be a good idea to talk with your older children about any worries or fears that you may have. Showing them that you have the same concerns as them can make them feel understood and allow some comfort in knowing what they are feeling is normal.

  • Make Time for Saying Goodbye

    If possible, make the time to say goodbye to the people and places you love together as a family. It could be a nice idea for each member of the family to take it in turn to choose a special place to visit as a family before the move.

  • Highlight Any Silver Linings

    To some children, a move could mean a positive new start, particularly those who might have experienced bullying or difficulty in fitting in. Help your child see that the opportunity of a new beginning could be really exciting.

Preparing Your Baby or Toddler for the Move

  • Provide Family Stability

    Babies, toddlers, and younger children tend to thrive with predictable routines and when those routines are disrupted it can make them anxious and confused. Much of the distress a young child might face during a move is caused by the changes all around them such as a new room, new school and new friends. As much as possible, try to keep some routines and family habits stable during the move whether it be story time or a watching your favourite TV programme together after dinner. With babies and toddlers around, it is especially important to take care of yourself in the moving process. If there is lots of stress and upset in the home, your little ones will feel it and react to it too. Keeping yourself calm and relaxed will help you ease your baby or toddler through the transition.

  • Help Them Understand the Changes

    Some toddlers will be more sensitive to change and more attached to their routine than others. Either way, talking to your toddler about the move and your new home to get them used to the idea will help reassure them. Even if your toddler doesn’t understand, it will be reassuring to hear the mention of a “new room” or “new home” before reality hits. You shouldn’t try to shield your toddler from the changes they are going to face. Do your best to help them walk through each change. It is a good idea to point out and talk about all the things that will change and what will stay the same. Depending on their level of understanding, knowing some things will stay the same will be a great comfort to your toddler.

    “We moved house with an 18 month old daughter. In the weeks leading up to the move we slowly packed away one of her toys each day so that it didn't come as a shock to see everything disappear on moving day.”
    Emma Button (www.mellowmummy.co.uk)

Preparing an Elderly Relative for the Move

Whether you have an elderly member of the family moving with you, or you’re helping them move themselves, we have gathered some advice which should help you ease them through the moving process.

  • Make Sure They Know Exactly What to Expect

    As with every member of your family, you will want to ensure they know what to expect during and after the moving process. This knowledge is essential in reducing worry and stress from the unknown and unexpected. As a family, it is always a good idea to visit your new home or town to start to understand new places and meet some new faces.

  • Allow Them as Much Control as Possible

    You might need to help an elderly person sort through and pack their belonging. It is a good idea to allow them to make their own decisions as much as possible as the move might mean they have to part with some of their belongings which can be very difficult. When packing, it could be a good idea to keep a few sentimental things for them for peace of mind or for comfort during the move.

  • Give Reassurance

    Whether or not they have been involved with organising the move, reassurance will be key to every member of your family. You may have your own concerns, but reassurance that their belongings will be safe during transit can go a long way to soothe anxiousness. If there are anyrequired medications, make sure you reassure them that you have them and know exactly where they are.