Moving a Family: Help Kids Feel at Home After a MoveBy Dawn Allcot
While most grown-ups breathe a sigh of relief after surviving moving day, settling into their bed (even if it’s just a mattress on the floor) for that first night’s sleep in their new home, children often take longer to feel at home in a new house or apartment.
As a parent, you can ease the transition period by helping kids prepare for the move and by taking these steps to make your clan feel more at home after you’ve moved.
1. Paint their new rooms the same color as their old ones.
Selecting paint colors can be overwhelming, frustrating and scary, even for adults. Why put your kids through this stress right after a move? Instead, paint your kids’ rooms the same colors as they were in the old house to make them feel at home.
Similarly, you can try to match the layout of their old room as closely as possible, putting their favorite toys in the same places of honor. Moving brings enough drastic changes to your children’s surroundings – why add more if you can avoid it?
2. Let kids decorate their rooms in a whole new way.
On the other hand, what if you’ve been talking about painting your child’s room something more fun than boring beige, and never got around to it before you moved? Help your kids feel at home by letting them design their own space.
To avoid paint debates and other decorating stress, let your kids choose paint colors from a pre-selected palette of five parent-approved colors. Hang posters of their favorite characters on the walls and let kids add their own affordable design touches, such as throw rugs, pillows, lamps, or a clock.
3. Let kids camp out in the living room the first night.
Kids love forts. Rather than forcing them in their own beds the first night in your new home, build a fort from sheets and dining room chairs and host an indoor campout. All you need are a few sets of sheets (fitted work best), blankets, pillows, and maybe an activity or two, like board games or playing cards. Serve s’mores, tell ghost stories (or funny stories) by flashlight, and maybe let them watch a movie on your iPad or tablet before calling it a night. If the little ones are uncomfortable going to their own rooms, one night on the floor with them won’t hurt you and will help them feel more secure.
4. Expand your family with a new pet.
Distract kids from the pressures of the move and turn your new house into a home with a new pet.
Adopting a pet represents a significant commitment in time and money (vet bills, licenses, training, food, etc.), so don’t jump into this decision lightly. But if a dog or cat would make your new home complete, go for it. Adopt an animal from a shelter and you’ll not only help your kids embrace their new lives in a new hometown, you’ll save a life too.
Photo by zolakoma/Flickr
5. Plant a garden.
If your family isn’t ready or able to adopt a pet, plant a garden. Together with your kids, research which herbs and vegetables will do best in your new locale, choose a spot with the right mix of sun and shade, and let the kids accompany you to buy potting soil, seed, and their own set of garden tools.
Photo by Kim Love/Flickr
Planting a garden in your new home teaches children responsibility and nurturing, as they plant the seeds, care for them, and watch them grow. A garden also helps create a more nurturing environment for children. The kids will benefit from spending time outdoors, weeding, watering, and tending to the garden and, eventually, harvesting the crops to enjoy the fruits – and vegetables – of their labor.
You’ll also enjoy the bonding time with your children, as every moment in the garden becomes a teaching moment. Children learn how their investment of time and care pays off as their tiny seeds grow into tasty vegetables or beautiful flowers, just as your children will blossom in their new space. If you’ve moved to an apartment or an urban space, you can plant a patio garden or even a windowsill container garden.
6. Grow plants in your new home.
Whether you live in a house or apartment, plants make a beautiful addition to your new home. It’s even better if you let your children choose the plants and start them as seeds when you first move in. Children of every age love watching their own creations come to life, and your whole family will enjoy the benefits of the plants for years to come. In a NASA study, plants have been shown to improve air quality by absorbing harmful toxins.
Photo by Suzette/Flickr
Let children measure the plants as they grow, or keep a log of daily or weekly changes. Children will gain confidence and a greater sense of responsibility as they successfully nurture the seeds into seedlings and then houseplants.
7. Start a new family tradition.
While your family undoubtedly brought many good memories from your former home, it’s time to start building new traditions. For instance, measuring your children and marking their height in a doorway or in the hall every year (or every few months, depending on their age) helps develop a sense of permanence in the new space.
Start a tradition of eating afterschool snacks at the new kitchen island or hold movie night every Sunday in the family room. Activities that emphasize the positive features of the new home show the kids how great their new place really is. Get the kids even more involved by letting them suggest a family tradition they’d enjoy.
Whether you try one or more of these seven activities, it’s important to help kids assimilate their environment by listening to their concerns. Take advantage of bonding time while you garden, paint, or walk the new dog to pinpoint children’s fears or apprehensions and discuss them in an open, age-appropriate way. This combination of practical action and loving care can ensure a smooth transition to your new home for the whole family.
Featured image by Steven Depolo/Flickr