After the tiring and seemingly never ending list of to-dos, this is the fun part of the move – settling in. The adventure begins now for the whole family –discovering the new neighbourhood and the surprises it will have in store.

This article goes over some useful guidance for helping the family settle into your new home.

Be prepared to deal with mood changes and reintroduce house rules

More than ever, keep an eye on your children’s moods after the move.  Children can have trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar space after a move, or they can be teary or cranky.  Even when kids had originally seemed excited about moving, the sudden change in attitude after having moved in can be alarming. This is not unusual. Give your children time and be sensitive to their emotions.

However, prolonged upset or moodiness after a move should not be ignored.  Unusual problems with school work or dealing with peers, or changes in sleeping or eating patters that are not getting better may be signs that your child needs extra support to adjust.

Make a positive goodbye to your old home and community

Let go of the old and move forward to your new life on a positive note. This will make the transition easier for your kids when settling into the new home and new community.

Here are some ideas for letting go of the old:

  • A few weeks before you move, hold an informal get-together for close friends and neighbors to say good-bye.
  • As a family, make a point of visiting favorite restaurants and other special places one more time before you leave.
  • When everything has been packed away and the old house is empty, take a room-by-room walk through the house with your children. Recall birthday parties in the dining room, holiday events in the living room, stories of bringing the children home as babies – the kinds of memories every family has. Take a last stroll around the outside too.

Plan a family welcoming ritual for your new home

Just as you did when you left your old home, welcome your new home can go a long way in helping your children adjust.  These customs can be anything that will have meaning for your children and you.

Here are some ideas:

  • If the children are seeing the house for the first time, do a walk-through together to “meet” your new home before your things fill the rooms.
  • Plant a tree or bush together outside as a symbol that this is your home now. If it is wintertime, plant something in a pot inside that you can transplant in the spring.
  • Find the perfect spot for an object that is special to your family – such as, a family portrait, swing, or a bird feeder and make a special event of putting it up in the new home. 
  • Have everyone’s must-haves where you can find them immediately and easily in the new home

These family must-haves may be a stuffed animal, blanket, favourite pajamas, essential CD, comfy sweatshirt, box of cereal, coffee pot. Your first few days in your new home, especially that first night and morning, will be so much more pleasant if everyone has their special belonging.

Re-establish regular family routines, such as mealtimes and bedtimes, right away

When moving, there will be a certain amount of disruption to routines. Once you have moved in, a goal should be to reestablish family routines as quickly as possible. This will help younger children, in particular, who need routines and more consistency. This also sends the important message to all members that you are the same family, just in a new setting.

Prioritize the unpacking process

Rome was not built in a day so nor should your new home.  Make setting up the children’s bedrooms your first priority to help get them comfortable. Then put other high-use living areas at the top of the list – kitchen, bathroom(s), and family room.  Take your time to enjoy getting to know your new home and the discoveries you and your kids will make about it.   Hanging pictures and decorating will come later.

Allow the children some say in setting up their new bedrooms

Their new bedroom is truly their own space in the new home, so let your children be involved in some of the decision making. If there is a budget for new furnishings, let them help select the new rug or bedspread, or allow them to select a few bedroom decorations of their own such as removable wall stickers. At the least let them decide where their bed goes in the room.

Help your children feel comfortable in their new bedrooms

Some children have trouble sleeping in a new bedroom. Take the time to point out how the new room is similar to the old and talk about how it is different. Pay attention to pointing out furnishings and belongings that are familiar to your child. Bring up things about the old room that your child did not like, such as weird shadows or rattling windows.

Familiarize yourselves with the new neighbourhood

This is especially important for comfort and safety. You want your children to know as quickly as possible the boundaries of where they can and cannot go.  Taking walks and driving around as a family is the best way to uncover the exciting surprises that await in the new neighbourhood.

Help your family pets settle in

Your children will feel more comfortable when they see that the family pets doing okay. Cats do best when you confine them to one room in the new house. Dogs do best walking around the house on a leash and by being able to smell their new surroundings.  In both cases they will expand and explore their new territory when they are more comfortable.

Make new friends

Play an active role in helping your children make new friends in your new community. They will appreciate having you as their confidante for sharing their new experiences and discoveries.

Here are some tips for helping your kids meet new friends:

  • With new colleagues from work or new families you meet, set up play dates for younger children to get to know each other.
  • Find activities for your school-age children to join, such as sports teams, clubs, lessons and classes. Meeting children with the same interests as your child increases the odds of going beyond acquaintance to friend.
  • Take the initiative and introduce yourself to the neighbors. A meet-and-greet can help get those new friendships get under way.

In the end, moving is a challenging time for the whole family.  However it is also a time that is sure to bring exciting new opportunities for all.  Through talking to your children and following the tips and guidelines found in this article, you will soon enough be well immersed in your new community.

Check out our articles on ‘’Moving with children of all ages’’, ‘’Moving with younger children’’ and ’’Moving with pre-teens and teenagers’’ for advice on how to tell your children about the move, what emotions you may expect from them and checklists to help keep them involved throughout the process.