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Moving Home

It’s happened again – just as you have got settled, made some friends, got the children happy at school and got yourself a job – and you find out you are moving again!  Ahhhhhhhhhh. It’s enough to drive you mad.  Time to start packing boxes again, dig out the bleach and wonder what you will find under the washing machine this time!


If you want to know more about the formal bits on moving, the Ministry of Defence Housing Policy for Serving Personnel, then go to Joint Service Publication (JSP) 464 on the Defence Estates Website.


From a practical perspective, moving home can be a very stressful time. Take advantage of the support around you to help make all the general arrangements and keep a file of all the information you are given.


Check your home insurance covers your possessions while they are in transit.


The Royal Mail has lots of advice for moving home including templates for change of address letters and redirection services for your mail.


For an emotional perspective, the process of moving home has a huge impact on the family. For the children in particular, it can be a process of grieving.


Here is some advice on dealing with the move, for children at different ages and stages


Moving and your infant or toddler

Generally, infants and toddlers make the transition quite well. They may, however, pick up on your anxiety and stress level, and seem particularly fussy and demanding in the few weeks before and immediately after your move. If your child is being cared for by a caregiver other than yourself, she may go through a sense of loss and not be well able to express it. Older toddlers who have just begun to understand a few basic household rules like "Don't climb on the counter tops or scribble on the wall" may need to relearn the rules all over again in the new house.


What you can do

Your time and attention are especially important now. Remember to take a break during the rush to hold or play with your child. Be sure to keep any security objects such as a favourite teddy bear or blanket close by. Heaven help the parent who absent-mindedly packs a favourite object away! Keep your routine as normal as possible. Regular eating and nap times are important.


Moving and your preschooler

Often, preschoolers will express a great deal of excitement over a move, but may not really understand everything that is going on. The details of moving inevitably frustrate parents, and preschoolers tend to think that the chaos and frustration may somehow be their fault.


Preschoolers also find it hard to understand what will go with them and what will stay behind. They may not realize that you are taking furniture and toys with you, and often develop great fears for their personal belongings and toys. Also, they may not realise that close friends and neighbours will not make the move.


What you can do

Try to pack children's things last and include your preschooler in on the packing process. Do not assume that your child understands the process of moving. Explain the move to your child and give reasons for the way you are doing things. Children's books on moving are listed in this publication. Take the time to read one or two with your child to help him understand the moving process. As with infants and toddlers, keep your routine as normal and predictable as possible.


Moving and your school-age child

School-age children often are quite excited about a family move and love to become involved in the planning process. School-age children love to develop lists and are very project oriented. Use their enthusiasm and energy to help you get some of your moving tasks done.


Relationships with peers are very important for school-agers, and they can understand the effect of the move on their relationships with friends and neighbours. Although they can understand the separation from friends and neighbours that is about to happen, they may not have the maturity to deal with their emotions.


Most school-agers are quite positive before and even immediately after the move. A month or so after the move, however, they may become quite angry about the move, especially if they have not had much success forming a group of friends. School-agers still have a very active imagination and may have imagined that the move would somehow make their lives wonderful. When reality sets in, therefore, they may experience a great deal of confusion, frustration, and anger.


What you can do

Scope out the neighbourhood before you move. Are there other children your child can play with? If not, where can your child go to meet friends? Is there a community centre or clubs nearby?


Arrange to visit the school before enrolling your child. Be sure to point out familiar places like the lunch areas, library, and toilets. Kids worry about being able to find their way around.


Take pictures of your child, new home, and community and encourage your child to share them with others. A farewell party is also a good idea. A farewell party can help ease the pain of good-byes, make the move a concrete event, and help the child accept reality.


Moving and your teenager

No doubt about it, moving is difficult for most adolescents. Teenagers are generally very involved in social relationships. As far as relationships go, your teen is now focused on learning how to develop more long-term relation- ships. Most teens feel that involvements with friends and romantic relationships are often unnecessarily interrupted by a move. Although teenagers have the maturity to understand the reason for the move, they may not be prepared to accept it emotionally.


What you can do

Parents need to give teens time and space when preparing for a move. Many parents postpone telling kids about the move, hoping that it will make things easier. Generally it is best to tell them right away. The "grief work" of breaking relationships and saying good-byes takes time, and is best done before the move.


Even though teens seem much more advanced in their social skills, they may worry a lot about making friends and fitting in. Be sure to visit their school and check out local activities and employment opportunities for young people.


Communities have their own culture and way of doing things, and this is often reflected in the way teens dress. How they look is very important to teens. Before spending money on a new school wardrobe you and your teen may want to do some quiet observation or visiting with neighbours to see what is "in." Purchasing a "special" outfit can often help a teen feel more comfortable.


Parents also can help teens by paying sincere attention to their feelings. Accept your teen's feelings without getting defensive or lecturing. If a teen can express feelings openly and work through the "sense of loss" with parental support, he will be much less likely to express anger and depression in a harmful manner.