Moving House with a Child – transitions and tantrums
Moving house is hard enough without having to navigate the tricky and very volatile world of a child’s developing personality.
We’ve recently moved house and are still very much in the transition phase as we continue to unpack boxes, buy furniture, and paint rooms. The only room that feels really done is our daughter’s room and it’s taken us about 10 days to get it there.
Before we even started packing up our old place, we were very careful to explain what was happening, why we were going to move, and the exciting things that we would be closer to. One of the most important topics we really focused on was what will stay the same.
Same toys, same cat, even same preschool, so same friends, and lots of play-dates.
We did try to make the move easier for her by getting her excited or often distracted with a small new toy or a little treat. However, this became a habit and was a constant demand. So when we declined another treat, it became a tantrum.
To add to that, while Mummy and Daddy are trying to carry in heavy furniture or paint, our daughter needs attention and I really try to make a habit of never saying “I’m too busy to play”. It has slowed down the moving-in process a little, but I have to remind myself that she is my top priority and I want her to see that.
We’re slowly getting back into the habit of a normal routine. My wife has been taking the longer pre-school commute and since last night, we’ve finally finished her room and she likes it. She even slept in there all night for the first time in two weeks. I was worried that getting her out of our big ‘comfy’ bed and into her one was going to be a bigger mission but so far, so good. Even though it took the promise of an advent calendar and every night she sleeps in there, she’ll get a tiny toy. Since it’s the Holidays, she was going to get that anyway!
I know that sounds like we’re back to bribes, but I’m using the excuse that it’s nurturing a good habit (by rewarding, which isn’t great but I’m desperate!).
Another thing I found she enjoyed was helping me put together some Ikea furniture, smothered with plenty of praise and thanking her for the assistance.
If you’re moving home with young kids, here are a few pointers that I stole from a parenting seminar:
- Reassure that some things will stay the same (pets, toys, friends if possible)
- Let them help with the move and praise the child to ensure they have ownership over some part of the new home
- Give them a housewarming present too. Plants and candles aren’t going to do much for them, but a soft new rug or unicorn stuffy might help the new things feel not so scary
- Put on a nightlight. Their new room is all theirs, but give them an option to come to your room if they need a little reassurance, just don’t let them make it a habit
- Explore the area and find things for them to do. We found a neighbourhood coffee shop and sat outside drinking hot chocolate while I let her decide what we did next. We checked out the school park and took a stroller ride around the nearby area. Going out to a local restaurant was a big win for her too. She loved their grilled cheese!
- Share new experiences with your kids. We now have a view of the city and make a habit of looking at the sunset together or saying “Night, night Vancouver”.