My oldest daughter is five-and-a-half, and we’ve moved five times since her birth, most of them since her third birthday.
Over time I’ve learned that the faster I put together their bedroom, the happier they are — I set up their bed and alarm clock and hang a few shirts in their closet right away, so they feel more at home. Then we return to their normal routine that first night: pajamas, teeth brushing, a bedtime song, and reading as a family.
Having that same routine, even if they’re in an unfamiliar space, seems to give them a lot of reassurance that their life hasn’t changed too much, even if the walls around them have.
I’ve also noticed my children tend to resist liking anything about the new place at first, and it’s better for me not to push them to talk about how much they like it, or compare it to the old one. It’s amazing how quickly children adapt, but they may not want to feel forced to embrace a new place, and want a little space to mourn and miss their old home.
Of course, a few picture books go a long way to opening a discussion and helping them know what to expect before the big moving day. Here are a few to help broach the topic:
In the beginning of this book, everything is bad: the moving guys, the goodbyes (make that “bad byes”) to friends, and heading out on a long road trip to a new home. But eventually things start to look up. They stop at a motel with a pool and an ice machine, and the landscape passing by is beautiful. And when they arrive at their new home, there’s a little boy next door eager to be friends. Suddenly it appears not all byes have to be bad. Some might even be goodbyes.
Ira’s best friend Reggie is moving away, and as if that’s not bad enough, Reggie seems totally thrilled about the changes, with no sadness about leaving Ira behind. However, as the big day arrives, Ira discovers Reggie might be as torn up about the changes as he is.
Moving day can be stressful for everyone, including the family dog. In this humorous and sweet story, Boomer just wants his morning walk, but the house is chaos, with everything being packed into a truck and then delivered to a strange, empty house. This is a great book for helping children recognize what a move will look like and how to prepare for the big day.
In this book, a little boy visiting his grandmother overnight is frightened by how much different and noisy the city is compared to the home he is used to. His grandmother lovingly points out all the wonderful things about the city and why she loves living there.
Alexander isn’t moving. Period. It doesn’t matter that his dad has a new job, because there is no way Alexander is going to leave behind all his special places and special people. Eventually his parents help him calm down, but as he packs up his items, Alexander lets them know he’ll never, absolutely never, move again. The perfect read to remind kids they’re not alone in their apprehension, while making them giggle all the while.
Having just moved with his dad, Peter feels afraid in his new home, even though he has his dog Harold there to protect him. So Peter sews Lenny, the guardian of the bridge. Like Peter, Lenny might be lonely and in need of a friend; when new friends for both of them appear, they discover that a new place isn’t so scary after all.
Chester Raccoon’s family is moving, and he is devastated to leave behind his beloved forest. However, as he says goodbye to all his favorite trees and memories, he realizes that what’s most important is his family: Wherever they are, that is home.
Has your family ever moved to a new town or city? What helped your little ones get through the process? Share in the comments section below!