Moving into a new home is stressful for families, but it can be particularly hard on the smallest members of the family. For children and pets especially, moving is a major shakeup, as routines are extremely important for them. Kids and pets, like all of us, value stability and familiarity in their lives. However, they are much more sensitive to disruptions in their routines than parents. Moving can be a traumatic experience for kids that can change their entire outlook on the world — it can even lead to problems socializing later in life if their anxieties are not dealt with appropriately. Likewise, pets can find their entire worlds turned upside down after moving into a new house, causing behavioral changes and making living with them much more difficult.
Even though a move can be arduous for children and pets, there are strategies to help them cope with the changes — and even help them see the move as positive. The accompanying guide to moving with kids and pets may not relieve all of their anxiety when it comes to changing homes, but it can help make their transition to their new neighborhood a lot smoother. Ultimately, this can help kids and pets process the move with less stress for them and for you.
A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving With Kids And Pets
Moving can be a traumatic experience for kids and pets. Here are some step-by-step tips to help them process one of the biggest changes to their lives — and make the entire move a much smoother experience for everyone.
Before the Move
- Kids — Let your kids know as soon as possible about the move to give them time to get used to the idea and process their feelings. Give them an opportunity to take part in the preparation — let them choose the paint colors for their new rooms, for example. If possible, visit your new neighborhood before the move and find all the important places your kids will want to know about, such as their new schools or the neighborhood park.
- Pets — If your pets have a hard time taking a trip in the car, spend a few weeks taking them around for short drives to get them used to it. If you’re traveling by air, make sure you know your airline’s policies about pets. Take your pets to the vet for a checkup about one month before the move, and ask about anxiety medications if you think your pets might need them.
- Kids — The day you move will be hectic and stressful, so consider having your kids stay with a babysitter or plan an activity for them outside of the house to keep them from getting underfoot or becoming emotional about the situation. Be sure one box is packed with all of your children’s favorite belongings so they can be unpacked first as soon as you get settled in the new house.
- Pets — Try to keep your pets sequestered from all the activity, like in a spare bedroom or the bathroom. Or hire a pet sitter to watch them while items are moved out of the house. If you can’t keep your pets away from the activity, take frequent breaks to pay extra attention to them, and make sure they have plenty of their favorite treats and toys.
After the Move
- Kids — Unpack your kids’ favorite things first, and try to have their rooms set up as soon as possible, keeping the basic layouts as close to the old house as you can unless they want it a different way. If your family has rituals such as Friday night movies or taco Tuesdays, stick to them even during the unpacking process to provide some stability and familiarity. Take the time to go for walks in your new neighborhood to learn the layout and find out where everything is. Above all, be attentive to your kids and don’t ignore them — even while you’re busy setting up the new house.
- Pets — As with kids, routines are important to pets. Keep meal times the same and try to keep the locations of their food dishes and beds as close to where they were in the old home as possible. As your pets get settled into the new home, keep a close eye on them to ensure they don’t try to run back to your old home.