“Aaaaaaarrrrggghg! I told you a MILLION times not to do that!”
If you’ve ever looked on in total exasperation as your baby or toddler has methodically pulled every item out of a moving box you just packed half an hour ago, for the gazillionth time, you’ve probably yelled something similar.
We all know that moving is hectic. Moving when you have kids takes it to a whole new level, especially when they’re little. However, it’s vital to remember that moving is arguably as hard on them as it is on you. While we grown-ups deal with all the practical requirements, financial cost and stress, kids are having their worlds turned upside down. In particular, for younger kids with a limited understanding of what is transpiring, this can be an emotionally and psychologically trying time for them too.
So, while you may legitimately feel that children serve only to make your life even more difficult during what is an already crazy time, in all likelihood they’re just feeling insecure and being a ratbag is their way of angling for your attention and reassurance that everything is going to be OK.
With this in mind, it’s crucial to find that sweet spot in which your need to get the job done with as few distractions as possible is balanced with their need to feel secure at a time of flux and upheaval. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this:
Prepare Them Early
The longer your little ones have to get their heads around the impending shift, the better. Start prepping them weeks in advance by engaging in as much positive talk about the new house and provide reassurance about how wonderful, fun and exciting it will be. Creating this sense of excitement and anticipation can get them used to the concept and help put them in a positive frame of mind. This can help make them less demanding as the packing begins and moving day approaches.
Keep It Real
In addition to discussing it, having a tangible reminder of the impending move can be a huge help in helping them get their minds around the move. Choose some items that can be packed ahead of time – kids books, old toys, clothes or linen are often good options – and pop them into boxes. Leave the boxes in a conspicuous location, so they act as a visual reminder that will of what’s ahead and help them to prepare psychologically.
Get Them Involved
Making children feel like they’re part of the action has multiple potential benefits. Firstly, it gives them the satisfaction of contributing to a family effort. It can also foster a sense of achievement, pride and security, as well as instill values or hard work. Set them a simple task, such as packing their toys and games into boxes, and offer prizes or rewards for their effort.
Kids are typically goal-oriented, so as you’re assigning practical tasks, consider ways to gamify the process to inject a little competitive spirit into proceedings. Simple challenges like “who can pack a box the fastest”, “who can pack the most boxes” or “who can pack the neatest box” will increase your chances of keeping them both entertained and productive, which is a win-win for everyone.
Despite all this, there are times when nothing helps, and you will have a difficult child on hand making your life unpleasant. Don’t be afraid to plan activities so that they are out of the house when you are doing packing or on the day of the move. This is the perfect opportunity to spend the day with Grandma and Grandpa, Auntie & Uncle, or maybe a play date or sleepover at one of their little mates. While they’re occupied, it’s your chance to get as much as possible done without the distraction.
While it’s tempting to get everything packed as early as possible, without any toys, books or games to provide a focus, your kids will have little to do but demand your attention. Make sure you leave a generous selection of their favourite items so that they have some items left around the house to engage them. It’s a small sacrifice to keep them happy and occupied.
Moving house is a fact of life, and for those of us with kids, it can be a logistical juggle. Remember that it can be quite an upheaval for young minds and seek the equilibrium that helps put them at ease so you can get on with the job at hand. Don’t forget, Mooval is here to help you with the right advice and exceptional quality service, so give us a call today.