Monday, July 13, 2015 / by Bill Berning*
Moving is hard enough when you’re on your own, but as you factor in more and more variables, things can rapidly spiral out of control. Children, pets, your spouse; all of them will have opinions, emotions, and stress associated with the move that you have to address. When moving to a new area with your family, you will need to take the time to ensure that everyone is prepared and involved with the effort to ensure that stress remains low, and feelings remain unhurt.
Moving with Children
Planning a move with a child can be the most complicated – and often, most stressful – item on your moving list. Emotions will always run high, and there’s no blanket all ages how-to. A toddler will handle a change differently than a baby, a grade schooler differently than a toddler, and a teen differently than all of them. Moreover, it varies on a person-by-person level. Some children will handle the change better or worse than others: your teen may be singularly unaffected by the change, while your grade schooler may feel like it’s the end of the world.
Your children’s feelings are valid, so treat them with the respect they deserve. Whether they react with anger, tears, or joy – you should accept these emotions as they are, even if you’re negative. Tell them about the move as early as possible (they should be among the first you tell about the move, and you should tell them as such) and give them details on a level they can understand. For example, you can tell them that you’ve been promoted and must move for the position, but don’t confuse or overwhelm them with the irrelevant office politics that came with the decision. Let them be involved in the moving process if they’re able, and keep them updated every step of the way. If possible, take a weekend trip to see your new home and help your children familiarize themselves with the house, their new schools, and local fun spots. If the move is too far away, have a local friend or family member, or even your real estate agent, take some photos. Don’t forget the tech age we live in: even a simple smartphone can help give your family a live tour from a thousand miles away.
Be firm, and explain that the move is happening for a reason – and no amount of yelling or begging will be able to change that. While you can and should make the effort to help your children keep a connection with their old home if they so desire, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Allowing them to keep in contact with friends, family, and beloved teachers through social media and Skype is simple and safe. Making promises that you’ll go back to visit regularly, or hinting that the move is only temporary – if these promises aren’t absolutely something you’re determined to make happen, even breathing a word of them to your children is a recipe for disaster.
Moving Day With Furry Friends
Pets pose their own problems when it comes time for a move. While they may not hurl dramatic screeds at you across the kitchen table as an upset tween might, they can’t be reassured with a heart-to-heart talk – that language barrier is something awful. Pets can have just as many emotional and psychological ties to your old home as any other member of your household, and as such, they must be taken into consideration when planning your move.
Cats and dogs are creatures of habit, and as such, you should expect behavioral hiccups when you’ve moved to your new home. Cats may hide under the bed all day, dogs may have accidents in the house – you have to expect this behavior, and not stress your pets further by getting angry or reprimanding them for it. Consider making arrangements to introduce your pets to the new home after all the dust has settled. Having them temporarily room with local friends or family members until the house is unpacked fully is not only a good way to help your pets settle at the sight and smell of familiar furniture, but will also keep them from being underfoot while you’re hauling and unpacking boxes.
Make the appropriate health and wellness arrangements for your pets before you touch down in your new home. Having an appropriate vet already lined up is essential at a time when your pets may be encountering a great deal of stress that can potentially influence their health, so do your research and interview veterinary hospitals online and over the phone before you’re out of your old home.
Keeping Your Partner in the Loop
Home buyers with partners or spouses often neglect the importance of considering their reactions to a move. Sure, you’re both adults, and at least nominally have a mature way to cope with change. Many moves happen due one partner’s job opportunities or transfers, and while these often can’t be avoided, they force the other partner to give up their job, their friends, their families, and all the local amenities they’ve become accustomed to. So, while one partner enjoys their new position, the other is stuck job-hunting while alienated from their previous life. This situation can breed great resentment in a relationship if not handled properly, which will only cause further stress and strife for children, pets, and all others involved.
If your partner expresses hesitations, trepidations, or resentment toward the move, listen to them and do all that is in your power to help them through the issues they bring up. They’re your equal in the household, are not to be treated like your children – they can, and absolutely should, be your partner in deciding all the aspects of the move and choosing your new home. Help them in their job hunts and accompany them in exploring your new town. Volunteer and hobby organizations can help you make some local friends, and the move itself presents a peerless opportunity for your spouse if they wish to further their education in a local university or community college. Remember: not considering your partner’s needs just as you would other members of your household will send the message that you don’t value them.