Adjusting to the Move

Helping your Family Adjust to the Move

With all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to overlook the needs of your children, who might be really worried about the upcoming move. For little ones (and teenagers) a move can mean leaving behind everything they know and everything that’s important to them: their home, their school, their teams and clubs, and maybe even their friends. They probably didn’t make the decision to move, and they might not understand why it has to happen or believe that it’s really going to happen! The frightening prospect of change may show up in children as sleeping problems, anxiety and loss of appetite. To minimize the stress on your kids, tell them as soon as you can about the move so they’ll have more time to deal with their feelings.

Explain in simple, positive terms why the move is necessary. As they become used to the idea, describe their new home and if possible, take them for a visit. Ask for their opinions and suggestions on decorating and landscaping, and get their help in all the preparations. Above all, it’s important to encourage talking about it, even if you’re uncomfortable with the negativity they might express about the move. Reassure them their feelings are normal and just know that it may take some time for a child to let go.
Most people plan their move to coincide with the end of the school year, but evidence shows it may actually be better to move at least a month before the end of the school year so kids can make new friends before the long summer break. Kids adapt much better when they have a circle of friends and some routine.
Pets are family members too, and they feel the stress of relocation! Everyone has a story about prying a cat out of a closet and the hiding, howling and other strange behaviours that can occur in the new home until the pets are used to it. To minimize your pet’s stress, first consult your vet. Make sure all vaccinations are current, get copies of your pet’s medical records, and ask for a recommendation for an animal clinic in your new area if you’re moving far. Pets can become agitated by all the boxes – to them it probably feels like their entire world is being carted away a piece at a time, so if possible, arrange with a friend to keep your pet on moving day. Sedation might be an option for long trips or hyperactive, frightened animals. Remember, household movers are not allowed to transport live animals in a moving van, so dogs and cats will have to ride in your car, but make sure you stop at least every two hours. Hamsters, birds, mice, and guinea pigs are best transported in their cages in your own car.
Once in your new home, the sooner you re-establish routines, the better. Outdoor cats should be kept indoors for a few days before they’re allowed to roam free, while dogs will benefit from frequent walks around the area so they can check the neighbourhood out by smell.