Kids have really good listening skills when they want to use them. They also pick up on parental stress, even though we might try to hide it!
Based on my research with hundreds of families who have moved home, there is ONE really important thing that I recommend you should always try to do when you are planning or preparing to move home with kids:
Talk to your kids about moving home yourself, before they overhear you talking about it or hear it from someone else.
How do you talk to kids about moving home?
I know you might be thinking 'Don’t patronise me, of course I’m going to talk to my kids about moving!’
I know you might be going to. I know you've got really good intentions, you’re just waiting for the perfect moment once the house paperwork is signed, or you’re sure of a new job offer, or you’ve checked out which schools have a space. I've been there, trying to figure out when the best time to talk about it is. The best time is before someone else does or before they overhear it.
Moving home with children is a BIG thing. Usually it is quite a long process and it involves a lot of decisions. There is quite a lot of scope for children to overhear conversations about moving home because there are a lot of conversations to be had.
Talking to children early on in the process might seem scary because you don’t know how they will react, you think that they might not react well or your plans are so up in the air you don't want to say anything in case you don't end up moving. It might be tempting not to say anything until you absolutely have to so that you don’t have to upset them and/or deal with any fall-out.
The thing is though, if they overhear you talking about moving home – about them moving home – before you have talked to them about it (and hopefully asked for their views and opinions) the fall-out is likely to be greater. I've seen this happen in families and it can be really hard for children and parents.
Obviously listening and processing information about moving can depend on the age of your kids. I'm going to assume that they are beyond toddlerhood. If they overhear you talking about moving home with a relative, friend or neighbour some kids will come right out and say ‘Are we moving home?!’ Some kids might talk to their siblings or friends about it instead. Some kids might overhear and then bottle-up their feelings about it.
Whatever way your kids might deal with overhearing that they are (or maybe) moving home, I really recommend that you avoid them overhearing it in the first place. Talk to them before you talk to many other people, if at all possible.
Talking builds trust and connection.
Everyone's moving circumstances are different and we're all under pressure when we move but, if you possibly can, discuss it with your children. Ask their views. Ask how they feel. Take the time to accept their feelings. Acknowledge that there may be things that are really hard for them about moving home. Love them and listen to them.
If you are reading this and you think your kids overheard that they were moving home before you talked to them about it, don't be hard on yourself. I know from my research with families that it’s really common that this happens. Just talk to your kids about moving. Talk to them about how they feel and reconnect.
Try not to go into a stressful life-event like moving home with your kids’ trust in you destabilised. Talk, listen, reconnect.
If you’d like some evidence-based help figuring out how to move home with kids, I’d love to help you. You can contact me using the button below.