I just finished relocating from the Tampa Bay area, where I’ve been living the past almost 8 years, back to South Florida, where I grew up. For me and my husband, this move is just going back home; most of our family is still there, all our closest friends, everything is familiar to us. My son on the other hand, our life Saint Petersburg is all he knows. I wanted to help him cope with the move as much as I could.
While he’s super excited to be closer to his cousin, he was still having some very big emotions associated with the move. He may not have been able to explain he’s having anxiety but it was apparent in his behavior. Even his teacher at school could pin-point the days there were major changes in the house. Now, I am in no way a child phycologist, or have any expertise in this area, but these 5 tips I’m sharing with you really made a difference in our experience. There were still plenty of battles along the way, but that’s just par for the course when raising a strong-willed little guy.
Take breaks for family time.
Trust me, I get it, it’s overwhelming how much there is to do. While breaks for family time might seem obvious, but it’s not always the easiest to do. Even if you’re organized and prepared, moving is a daunting task. The last thing you want to do is take a day off from your never-ending to-do list to do nothing. A break for the hecticness at home might be just what your little one needs. When my son was acting out more or clearly vying for my attention I would schedule a little time off from packing. Sometimes it would be just a couple hours of my undivided attention at the park, sometimes a full day of family fun. Afterwards, we’d all feel reenergized.
Create a visual calendar.
This is my favorite tip and actually came at the recommendation of my son’s VPK teacher. My son is a visual learner and as much as we were keeping him informed of our plans there were a lot of moving parts and even I had a hard time keeping track of everything. I created him a calendar with pictures representing what was happening and where we’d be. I let him help me pick out images that represented things such as when we were in our old home, in a hotel, staying with various family, when he was at his old school and when he’d start his new one. Each day he’d cross it off on the calendar and it was a easily understandable representation of when we’d finally be in our new house and he’d be reunited with his toys.
Involve them in the packing.
I gave my son a box and put his name, big and bold on the outside and let him put whatever he wanted in it. He loved it! He drew on the outside and picked which toys he wanted to put in it. It drove part of me nuts because I tried to stay as organized as possible and the contents of that box were chaos but it gave him a sense of ownership.
We also let him help put a few boxes on the moving truck. He loves helping in any way he can and he was able to understand exactly where his toys were. Plus, it was just fun for him using the dolly going up and down the ramp. Major props to my husband for having the patience to let our son wheel boxes around in the middle of him loading heavy furniture and playing life size Tetris with our many, many items.
Respect their requests when possible.
My son had no problem packing up his play room and most of his toys but he was very resistant to packing up his bedroom. Every time I mentioned it, he’d get sad and say not now. There was no reason why I couldn’t respect this request. I had a whole house to pack up, some room had to be last, why not his. The house may have been a disaster area, but going to bed with everything still in its place, helped him keep a sense of normalcy.
Pack a small backpack with their favorite things to keep by their side.
We had about a 10-day window from the time we left our old house until we moved into our new house. There were a lot of stops throughout those 10 days, some had toys to play with, others did not. By having a few special toys, my son always had things to keep him occupied. He also kept with him one of his bedtime stuff animals to sleep with at night to be an additional comfort of home.
If you are moving, I wish you the best of luck! Wether you’re moving across town or across the country it is a big change for your little one. Hopefully these tip will help make it a smoother transition. I’m still not sure how I made it thought this whole house selling/buying/relocation process with my sanity in tact! (Well, was it really ever?) And now I’m foolishly taking on remolding! More on that in the coming months…