Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ways to help a child prepare for a move

Moira is not handling our rather sudden move very well, and I have been looking around the internet to find ways to help her be ready. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be much out there for kids her age. She needs more then just distraction and entertainment, but can't really understand what is going on, despite our careful explanations. I'm sure it doesn't help that she has a hard time letting go of anything right now, scraps of paper, toothpicks, clothes she's grown out of, and watching us pack up boxes of things to take to the Thrift Store is making her extra nervous. So here is the small list of things I've found that have helped out a little.
Moira and the box
  • Talk about moving. We explained that everything is going into boxes, and at the new house, it will all come out of the boxes. Everything she needs and loves will come with us.
  • We read the book Stars For Sarah by Ann Turner, where Sarah and her mother talk about all the things she will miss that will and won't come with them to the new house. This would be a good activity to do with a slightly older child, who might find comfort that a favorite toy will come, and that while the tree outside the window won't, there will be a new tree. So far any discussion of anything that isn't coming along, like our toilet, leads to tears for Moira, but she did love the book.
  • Our dolls moved from the dollhouse to a new house in the living room. Moira being the mommy doll and telling the Moira doll all about the new house.
  • We plan to let Moira decorate a packing box and fill it with all her most special things. That box will be immediately obvious in her new room, and the first thing we unpack.
  • Other books we've liked are Goodbye House by Frank Asch, Mitchell is Moving by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, and Maggie Doesn't Want to Move by Elizabeth Lee O'Donnell. All of these books are out of print because we got them from a kit at our library. There is a Bearnstain Bears book on this subject which I've read before that is decent, but I have a long time hatred of that series, so I didn't check it out.
  • I tried to find a video of a time lapse move to show her what the process would like, to no avail. We did watch this Busy World of Richard Scarry episode where one of the characters moves to a new home in the town.
  • Have a lot of busy bag activities, books, or other small self contained activities for the times when you are signing papers, doing inspections, and other boring lengthy activities. Basically, pack like you would for a long car trip.
  • The biggest thing we are trying to do is keep our days normal, and also lower our expectations for how much self control she has right now. Most days during the week, she is her normal cheerful self, but some times are harder then others.
All of the discussion seems to be helping her feel a little more settled about this move, although that might be wishful thinking on my part. It is certainly giving her better ammunition to try and convince us that we should stay where we are. Wish us luck!


  1. I'm so glad you wrote out these tips — excellent! The "like our toilet" bit had me laughing. It's definitely hard to adequately prepare a child who just plain doesn't like change, but these tips are a great start for helping her navigate through it anyway.

    We moved (locally) when Mikko was 2, and one thing he loved that became very helpful was visiting the new house several times. It had stairs, which our old place did not, so he was very excited to go live in the place with stairs. So for some kids, it might be helpful to point out what amazing, wonderful thing there is in the new place.

    I love that she moved the dolls from their dollhouse! Aw.

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