Moving house is known to be one of the most stressful activities one can undertake. Add children and pets to the mix and the potential for pitfalls doubles. Moving home is a time-consuming and logistically tedious process but, it’s also an emotional one. It’s never easy leaving a place where a multitude of memories were created, no matter the reason for the move.
With so much to do before and on the day, moving is never an easy process, but with children and their furry friends in tow, it’s enough to push one to the brink of insanity. Luckily, a little forward planning will go a long way toward streamlining the process, significantly reducing the impact on the whole family, minimising the risk of unforeseen stumbling blocks and also easing the transition and settling in period. If you’re about to embark on a move here are a few tips on how to make the move a little easier for children and pets:
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Preparing children for the move:
Moving house is a big upheaval for the entire family but it can be particularly stressful for youngsters who are likely to be upset about leaving behind everything that is familiar to them. If you’re moving far away from home, they’ll no doubt be nervous about the prospect of changing schools and having to make new friends.
Of course, any move, whether down the street or to a new town isn’t something that should be announced to your children at the last minute. Your little ones will need time to process the information and get used to the idea. Many experts advise that toddlers and pre-schoolers should be told about a month before the big move, this will give them time to acclimatise to the idea, but it’s not so long that they begin to ruminate and worry. Chat to your child and explain the upcoming changes to their lives and give them the opportunity to address any questions or concerns.
Once the news has been broken there are further steps parents can take to help kids acclimatise to the move:
Stick to normal routines
There will inevitably be many disruptions to the family’s daily routine as moving day approaches, but try to maintain as many of your old routines as possible. Things like regular family mealtimes, regular bedtimes and activities like game night. The consistency and continuity will be reassuring to your child.
Scout the new area before the move
If possible, take the family for a drive to visit the new neighbourhood before the move. In addition to showing them their new home you can point out the positive elements of the new area and the exciting opportunities that await them. This will help to make them feel more excited about the move and will also dispel many of the apprehensions they may be feeling.
Involve your kids in the process
Make them responsible for their own rooms and allow them to pack their own things and decide where they want to put everything in their new rooms. It’s also the perfect time to declutter to give them a box for old unwanted toys and clothes that they can donate to less fortunate children. Encourage them to personalise their boxes with coloured pens and stickers and reassure them that they will see their boxes again soon.
Plan a fun activity for the arrival
Once the move is over and everyone has arrived at the new home, take the time to do something fun together like go to a restaurant for a meal or spend an hour in a nearby park with the dogs and a picnic. It will go a long way in ensuring your new life gets off on the right foot.
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Making the move less traumatic for pets
Moving can be very traumatic for animals as they don’t understand why everything in their world is changing, and they are being moved from their safe environment.
When care isn’t taken to reduce their anxiety, it’s not uncommon for pets to go missing, and it’s not unheard of for them to go in search of their previous home territory. The stress of a move can also lead to behavioural problems and health issues for pets.
Cats, especially, are creatures of habit so when packing begins in earnest and meal times and cuddle times become erratic, they can get very stressed. When we pack, move furniture and place them in a new environment, their whole world changes and their senses are bombarded with new stimuli which can be overwhelming.
If you’re able to, leave your pets with a family member, friend, or send them to doggy daycare on the day of the move, this will make it easier for you to concentrate on the move. If this is not possible, here are a few additional tips to help you and your pets survive the ordeal:
Keep your pets tagged
With all the comings and goings during moving day and strangers in the house, doors and gates are easily left open, so it’s essential to tag your pets with your contact details and the new address if possible to ensure that they can be easily be reunited with you if they escape the premises.
Consult your vet
Like people, pets can also suffer from travel sickness so speak to your vet before the move about medication or anything else they can recommend for your pet to make the move smoother, especially if the new home is some distance away.
Confine your pets on moving day
Before the moving process begins make sure the pets are in one room with familiar things like their toys and blankets and enough water. It’s not a good idea to feed them too much before the trip as they can become ill. When a family member goes across to the new house to supervise unpacking, take the pets along and settle them into a room such as a bathroom or laundry room that doesn’t need to be accessed.
Settling in cats
Cats need to be kept in one room for several days at least before being allowed access to the rest of the house. It’s best not to let your cat outside for at least two weeks after a move and when you do, make sure the initial foray into the great outdoors is supervised. Cats are easily startled and will often dash out into another cat or dog’s territory or the road.
Settling in dogs
Dogs are less territorial than cats but still need to be introduced to their new home slowly. Show them where their new bed is and where they can find their food and water bowls. Accompany your pet on their first exploration of the garden and take them for regular walks to familiarise them with their new neighbourhood.
Try to get back to your usual routines as quickly as possible as this will help children and pets to settle more quickly. Moving to a new home should be considered a wonderful adventure for all and if the kids and pets feel secure during the process, they are less likely to act out and will soon begin to love their new environment.
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