Excitement and the chance to live in a better neighborhood and a house that meets all of your family's needs and wants isn't the only thing that packing and moving brings. Moving to a new house can bring feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and even anxiety. You're not the only one who might experience feelings of unease as a house move nears. Your kids might feel stressed about the change.
How moving to a new house could unnerve your kids
If your kids have gone through just one unpleasant change, they might associate change with unwanted experiences. Whether you realize it or not, your kids could think that moving to a new home will bring bad changes their way. For example, your children might create images of not:
- Fitting in with kids who already live in the new neighborhood
- Seeing their current friends, the kids who live in the neighborhood you're leaving, again
- Adjusting well to attending a new school
- Feeling left out as they become the "new kid" everywhere they go
These fears can create physical symptoms. Your children might:
- Feel nauseous
- Experience significant appetite changes and eat more or less
- Struggle to get a good night of sleep
- Sleep more than normal as a way to avoid dealing with unwanted thoughts and emotions
- Spend more time alone as they ponder the many experiences that the move could create
Helping your kids enjoy a stress free house move
To reduce your children's stress, include them in move discussions. Start talking with your kids about a house move as soon as you start giving serious consideration to relocating. This helps your children to feel heard and important.
Talking with your children about moving to a new home lets your children know that their thoughts about moving really matter. It gives your kids a voice.
Fortunately, there are more ways to help your kids adjust to a house move. You could:
- Take your kids with you the next time you visit neighborhoods that you're seriously thinking about moving to.
- Let your children know what each member of the family can do to make the move smooth
- Point out great features of the new house
- Highlight advantages that your kids can gain from the move (e.g. more sports events, better schools, more entertainment options)
- Plan moves when your children don't have other major events going on in their lives
- Ask your children to share their thoughts and feelings about the move with you (but, don't pressure your kids to talk)
- Observe your kids and offer assistance and support as needed (For example, you might share uneasiness that you feel about packing, meeting new neighbors and getting accustomed to a new work commute.)
Stress free house moves for kids don't happen on their own
Bills, house repairs and hours of heavy lifting and packing may cost you sleep as you prepare to move into a new house. You might even think that your spouse and you are the only people who are losing sleep because you keep thinking about what will happen after you move. But, you'd be wrong. Your kids might be worried about the move.
Start talking to your kids early about house moves to reduce, and maybe even eliminate, house move worries. Also, take other focused actions to make moving to a new house and neighborhood stress free for you and your kids.