It’s not unusual for children to feel overwhelmed, displaced, or anxious by the prospect of moving, even if that move is just to the other side of town. One way you as the parent can combat your child or children’s anxiety before a move is by involving them in the moving process in age-appropriate ways. Part of that includes packing up your belongings in preparation for moving day. Below, we’ve compiled a list of a few suggestions for how you can involve your children in the packing process. With any luck, they’ll feel excited for your new beginning by the end of it!
1. Have them help you toss or donate your unwanted belongings.
Tempting as it may be to use moving as an opportunity to toss the clothing and toys your children have outgrown, experts actually advocate against this. Moving to a new home is already stressful enough (for adults andchildren). Forcing your child to give away or get rid of any of their belongings may compound their already heightened sense of loss. You can certainly offer the opportunity to get rid of old or unused belongings, but Dr. Laura Markham with Aha! Parenting recommends that, if you offer the opportunity to declutter, you take care not to force it if your child is not ready. Instead, model the behavior you’d like to see and have your children help you go through and pare down your own belongings. This can include having them help take inventory of your old clothes, knick-knacks, dishes, etcetera, and accompanying you to drop the items off at your local Goodwill. Seeing that you are unfazed by the prospect of moving and getting rid of items you no longer need may inspire your child to follow your lead.
2. Add some flair to their moving boxes!
A fun way to get younger children excited about moving is letting them decorate the boxes they will use to pack up their toys, books, and clothes. This can be as basic as letting them scribble a little on collapsed boxes with crayons, or you can make fun, bright additions with stickers and glitter glue. The goal here is to coast off the excitement of decorating the boxes with encouragements like, “let’s put some of your toys into the really cool box you just made”. Since younger children may also be concerned that their belongings will get lost in the move, having boxes that are brightly decorated and easy to spot can encourage them. You can mention that to them as well: “No way we’ll lose this box, little miss; there’s sparkles on it!”
3. Make a game of it!
Putting things into boxes gets boring over time, even for grown-ups, so do what you can to keep it interesting. One way to do that is by doing a packing sprint. Set the timer for ten to fifteen minutes and challenge your kids to fill and seal a box before the timer goes off. Once the timer goes off, reward them with a snack or another kind of treat, like an extra few minutes of screen time.
4. Don’t forget to take fun breaks with your kids while packing.
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re packing for a big move, but while an adult can handle a more grueling pace, a child cannot. If your children are younger, chances are you are doing most of the packing anyway, but either way it’s important that you take breaks with your children. Seeing pictures come down and familiar objects put away may come as a shock to them, no matter how well you’ve prepared them for moving. As a result they may require even more one-on-one time with you than usual. Breaks don’t have to be long or intricate, but try to take them out of the house every once in a while, even if it’s just to play in the backyard or for a short bike ride around your neighborhood. After all the hard work you’ve done, you and your children certainly deserve a rest!
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