The Big Challenge: How to Get Kids Excited About Moving?


As an expat moved my house from my home town South Africa to Dubai in 2008, and have to move my house five times in UAE since then, I enjoyed reading an article on the web and spared some time to update it as per our environment.

2013 has no doubt been a big year for the UAE property market. Home prices have been recorded at the highest levels since the downturn in Dubai. As the rents are on the hike again, I see many families are moving from bigger houses to smaller ones, or changing neighbourhoods in order to be able to accommodate their budgets.

For most of us, moving is difficult, For children, it's even harder. Changing neighbourhoods, houses and especially leaving friends behind can lead to depression and difficulty coping with the change. So it's important that kids don't get lost in all the stuff you need to do to move. Instead, try to engage kids from the very beginning - the more you involve them in the move, the better they'll be able to manage the change and possibly even be excited about moving to a new home.

I hope this article will be as helpful for the readers as it has been for me. Enjoy Moving!

1. Tell them early before any big decisions are made

It's important to let kids know that you'll be moving as soon as you can. For older children, get them involved in the decision itself, helping you weigh the pros and cons of moving. The sooner you involve them, the more they'll feel in control of the move and that they're part of the process. There are many ways to make your speech easier: telling them early, remaining open and reassuring them make their life easier. And remember; Always Be positive. Also reading together a few children books about moving would be helpful preparing them for the day.

2. Get them involved in the move

No matter their age, you can involve them in the move by giving them tasks to do. For younger children, ask them to create a list of all the things they want to take with them and for older children, ask them to research the new neighbourhood you'll be moving to so they can start thinking about all the great things they'll find at the new place. They can also ask find out which class mates they will have around in the neighbourhood.

3. Introduce them to the neighbourhood and new home

It's a good idea to show your kids where they'll be living, including the neighborhood and new home. When you do visit, plan your day well, including finding some fun, family spots to eat, visit and hang out. The more you're able to show them, the more excited they'll feel.

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4. Get them to write about what they'll miss and what they're excited about

It's a great family exercise - something you can do together as a family or have each child do on their own. Ask them to make a list of all the things they'll miss then a list of everything they're looking forward to about the new home. If you have your children make their own lists, then have the family come together to compare what will be missed and what everyone is excited about. Make sure you make your own list, too. Once everything is written down and shared, usually you'll find that many of the things your children will miss can be found in the new space with a little digging and creativity.

5. Let them pack their room and plan how their new room will look

Even younger children can help pack their own room. Ask them to put items into two piles: one for stuff that they want to take and the second for the stuff they can leave behind. Young children might not put anything into the second pile, but letting them go through their things on their own helps them process what's happening and again, allows them some control over the move. It's also a good idea to show or describe to children what their new room will look like and allowing them to color in the walls and arrange their things in the new space. Don’t forget to prepare the essentials box: Their essentials box should contain all those things they'll need for the trip to the new house and for the first few nights. This box won't contain clothes or toiletries, but items that they want to keep them occupied. Most children pack a few books, activity books, toys, diaries or handheld computer games. Encourage children to think ahead and to have things at hand to keep them occupied.

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6. Plan some fun ways to get to know the new home
Most children will feel very unsettled in the new home, especially if they haven't had much time to see the new house before moving. Playing some fun games to get children feeling more comfortable in the new space will be helpful.

7. A few tips to help kids settle into their new home

Take a Tour: Even if your family has seen the house before, take a tour. Walk them through the space discussing what each room will be, describing how it'll look, what activities will happen there and asking what each member thinks about organizing the space. Some families suggest playing hide and seek or tag; a game that encourages children to explore. A game that usually works quite well is to create a list of questions that the family members need to answer. Make it like a treasure hunt, with teams and prizes. Examples of questions are: which room is the largest?, which room faces northeast and has two closets? This is fun way to find out more about your home and to explore its every surface.

Unpack the Kids' Rooms First: After the essential kitchen items are unpacked, start with the kids' rooms. Getting each child to unpack their own stuff (with help, of course) and talking to them about how they'd like their room arranged, will help them feel like the new space is theirs and they will soon settle into their new room. Usually the rule is, the sooner a child's room is unpacked, the quicker they'll adjust to the space - it's just common sense.

Get Back into Routine ASAP: Most people like routine, especially children and teens. For the first night, you may let the younger members of your family stay up a little longer just to make the night special, but after that, it's important to establish a daily routine. Keep bedtime hours, mealtimes and playtimes consistent. This will help everyone to feel more settled. If you used to take the kids to the park in the afternoons, be consistent on this in your daily routine.

PS: Don’t forget our best friends.

Our special friends, our pets, also require special care and handling. They are like kids too. No matter what kind of pet you have, adjusting to a new home is tough. Knowing your animal and the kind of pet they are - confident, social or shy - will help you determine what they're individual needs are. If you are a dog owner, it’s especially critical if you're moving from a home to an apartment or from a large house to a smaller home. Room to move around and exercise can be critical to a dog's contentment. Dogs are naturally territorial creatures. When you move, you are messing with their territorial rights. He is not going to be happy.

A few tips how to help your dog settle into a new home:

  • • Remember that animals pick up on your emotions. Be sure that you are giving off vibes that are happy as well as calming. If you feel anxious and overwhelmed, your dog will soon be as well.
  • • Have the dog's favorite toys, blankets/bed ready to roll out as soon as you move in.
  • • When taking them outside for the first time, keep him leashed and allow him the time to explore his neighborhood. Your dog should be introduced to the area around your home slowly.

Thanks to Diane Schmidt (