3 Fun Family Activities that Help Minimize Moving Stress and Anxiety
Posted Jun 28th 2023
Turning the Page: 3 Fun Family Activities that Help Minimize Moving Stress and Anxiety
Moving with families, particularly young children, can amplify already-high stress levels. Children often find their emotional and mental stability challenged when their environment changes. The MacArthur Foundation underscores the long-term impact of residential moves on children's social-emotional outcomes, emphasizing the importance of stability early in life. And it's not just young children; teens and young adults can also struggle.
How you navigate the move can make a significant difference. Encouraging your family to partake in unique, memorable activities during this time can help alleviate anxiety. It's not just about using fun to reduce stress. Celebrations and commemorative events can be instrumental in teaching children how to accept closure and adapt to change, enhancing their mental and emotional resilience. This and similar concepts can be found in studies like this one by Jelena Obradović.
Here are a few ideas on how to help children during a move and help families moving with kids mark the occasion. They'll remember these as times they had fun and will hopefully be ready to start a new chapter in their life.
#1 - Goodbye Party
Once the movers are done, or you've finished packing, you'll find yourself in an empty house. It might look bare, but it's probably still full of memories. This house is like a scrapbook of your life, holding onto moments that were shared with your family. Each room might have a story to tell, reminding you of when the house was full of life and noise.
Setting aside some time to remember and honor these memories is a good idea. You could plan a family gathering where everyone shares their favorite things about the house. It could be at a quiet corner where you loved to read or in the kitchen where you baked cookies during the holidays. Each family member can point out places that hold special memories for them, turning the emptiness into a gallery of fond recollections.
This is a fun and unique chance to make this moment even more special. Not every day do you get to picnic on your living room floor - and you might have even had a rule against it! Imagine spreading out a cozy blanket where your couch used to be and munching on sandwiches and snacks in the heart of your now-empty home. You could even take some old pictures and reminisce about the good times within these walls. It's a chance to celebrate the once-filled house with laughter, shared meals, and everyday moments of togetherness.
Better yet, why not capture the essence of your beloved home with a video? Imagine your family walking through the house one last time, pointing out favorite spots, and sharing stories. Each room could have its own tale, from the kitchen that hosted countless holiday meals to the backyard where summer barbecues with close friends were held. This video could be a keepsake that allows you to revisit your old home anytime you wish, keeping a piece of it with you even after you've moved on.
This farewell event can also be crucial in helping children understand and accept the changes that come with moving. For them, this house wasn't just a building; it was a vital part of their lives. So, it's important to acknowledge that moving can be both challenging and an opportunity for new adventures. You can remind them that this house was once new to them, just like the next one will be. And just as this home holds many cherished memories, so will the next one. This way, they can look forward to creating new memories and traditions instead of just focusing on what they're leaving behind.
#2 - First Night Sleepover/Campout
One of my favorite memories from my childhood comes from a particular family tradition that we upheld during each of our moves. It was unconventional yet exciting and memorable.
On our first night in the new home, before the movers arrived with our belongings, we would set up sleeping bags or air mattresses in the echoing, empty rooms. This made the unfamiliar surroundings seem less daunting and more like an adventure. While it wasn't exactly a night filled with luxurious sleep, it was always one I anticipated and long remembered; a perfect beginning to our new chapter. It helped the new home seem like something to look forward to, even though I was apprehensive about future changes.
This empty-house sleepover could be transformed into an enchanting indoor "campout" for some families. Visualize this: the new, empty living room becomes your family's private campground. You could fill the space with the sound of your favorite songs, creating a concert in the open rooms of your new dwelling. Storytelling could be another night highlight, with each family member sharing ghost stories or thrilling adventures, their voices reverberating in the vacant space around them. And to bring the authentic camping experience indoors, consider making s'mores in the microwave. It's a quirky take on the traditional campfire snack, fitting for this unique family event.
In essence, this fun-filled sleepover isn't just about spending a night in your new home; it's about creating an initial fond memory in a place that will be filled with many more. It's a unique way to mark the beginning of a new chapter in your life, adding a layer of excitement and anticipation to the move. To help, build up to it by talking about what you'll do during that night on the days or even weeks before help guide children to anticipate something fun associated with the change.
#3 - Custom Box Art & Box Forts
Moving to a new home can be a whirlwind, particularly when professional movers are involved. Many people who've used moving services often remark on the speed and efficiency of the movers on moving day. It's almost like a well-choreographed dance, with boxes and furniture swiftly disappearing from one house and reappearing in another.
Amid the flurry of movement, there's a symphony of new sounds, faces, and unfamiliar equipment. Amid all this “newness,” it can be comforting for your family to add a personal touch to the process. Something as simple as decorating the moving boxes can create a sense of familiarity and ownership.
For younger kids, decorating their boxes could be a fun activity involving colorful stickers or expressive crayon doodles. It's a chance for them to add their personal mark on their belongings, creating a visual representation of “this is mine”. School age or older children, on the other hand, could be challenged to create unique art on the boxes.
This could serve as an indicator of what's inside the box or whose belongings it contains. It's not just about marking their territory but also about tangibly expressing their identity and creativity. Time might be a limiting factor, and you may only have the chance to decorate one box. But if there's more time, why not extend this to several boxes?
As the decorated boxes are unloaded from the moving truck at your new home, encourage the kids to spot their artwork. This is an excellent opportunity to highlight how elements from their old, familiar environment are now part of their new surroundings. Amid a sea of newness, these boxes serve as anchors of familiarity, easing the transition and helping your family start feeling at home in a completely new place.
Once you've unpacked all those moving boxes, don't be too quick to toss them aside. Instead, why not turn the cardboard chaos into a source of entertainment and family bonding? Building a box fort (or several) can be an incredibly fun and memorable post-move activity. If you happen to find a couple of Nerf guns amidst the unpacking, you might even spark an impromptu, friendly Nerf war.
When constructing the ultimate box fort, here are some tips to remember. I'm proud to say that all of my years of experience in the moving industry come to bear here, to give you the "ultimate guide".
- Dishpack boxes, typically used to pack kitchen items, are usually the sturdiest due to their size and construction. They make an excellent choice for the base of your fort. Lay them on their side to create a sturdy foundation.
- Wardrobe boxes are another superb option for creating large, roomy spaces within your defense. Just remember to tape up the flaps to ensure they maintain their shape.
- Next, you'll need to think about the fort's walls. Medium and small boxes are perfect for this task. Stack them, arrange them, and even create crenellations for an imposing fortress. With enough boxes, you can design intricate layouts with multiple rooms and passageways.
- Finally, remember the roof to protect against the mortar barrage of balls or other "ranged" attacks. Once unpacked and flattened, mirror cartons can serve as excellent roofing materials. You may need to tape several cartons together to make it reach across the fort. Make sure you have some form of support in the middle to prevent sagging.
- Attach the roof to the battlements, drape it over the top, and voila! You have a cardboard castle ready for a family adventure. This activity turns what could be a tedious task - dealing with empty boxes - into a fun family memory in your new home.
Moving, especially with a family, can feel like a stressful upheaval. This article has outlined practical and fun ways for families to navigate this challenging time, making the experience more enjoyable and less daunting. From farewell events at the old house to unique celebrations in the new one, families can find solace in creating lasting memories amidst the chaos of a move.
Full-service moving companies are helpful in this process, providing efficient services that make the transition smoother. This efficiency allows you to focus on spending time with the people who need you most and craft fun activities along the way instead of hours of packing, loading, and unloading.
But even if using movers or a moving company isn't right for you, by engaging children in activities like decorating boxes or building box forts, parents can help them feel more involved and secure during the move. It's crucial to remember that every move signifies a new beginning, and with the right approach, it can become an exciting adventure filled with anticipation and joy.