Moving House with Adopted Children

We moved house recently. This is always a pretty big deal, but, can be extra stressful for adopted children, who may have some rather tricky emotions attached to moving.

I love to plan. I spend ages trying to set up an environment that supports the boys and helps them to stay in control of themselves. So, I made plenty of plans to help us with the big move. Some worked well. Others, not so much.

What did work:

  • Hiring a packing company meant our house was entirely packed up on the Sunday, and we moved house on the Monday. I was able to keep all our normal routines in place until the day before the move. That definitely kept things pretty calm in the run up.
  • First days boxes. I packed special boxes, very clearly labelled, with clothes, food & toiletries for the first few days, and brought them in the car. It took off the time pressure for unpacking, keeping me calmer (and we all know that’s the single biggest factor in keeping the household calm).
  • Taking used bedding for the first night. I made sure to scoop up the bedsheets on the morning of the move, then put the same ones on beds for the first night. I was hoping that familiar scents would have a subconscious reassuring effect. I don’t really know if it worked, but the first night, everyone slept well, so I am calling it a success.
  • DVDs. I anticipated that it might take a few days to get the TV hooked up, so I put DVDs in our first days box. I was glad of that the day I really wanted to put the boys in front of the TV for a bit.
  • Two days after our move, some friends made the big drive to come and see us. That was wonderfully reassuring for all of us. We may have moved, but we haven’t been forgotten.
  • My husband took a week off, after the move, to help us settle. This was really helpful! We expected a bit of regression after the move. Having both parents around all day, meant we all stayed much cooler and coped reasonably well with the return of some old (and not at all missed) behaviour patterns.
  • Signing up for the library. We loved our old library and leaving it was a wrench. A couple of days after arriving, we found our new library, and we started feeling at home.
  • Keeping routines in place. A lot has changed with the move! New house, new garden, new places to explore. Keeping as many routines as possible has been important. Breakfast and bedtime are exactly the same as they have been for years. I can feel us settling into the patterns with relief as those times come around.
  • Lowering expectations. We have expected the boys to find this hard. So, we’ve been making things easier wherever possible. Fewer demands, simplifying tasks, both have helped. Most of all, expecting the tricky moments has helped my husband and I to react with a bit of extra grace.

What went wrong:

  • Eldest’s high-sleeper bed was in an awful state. So, rather than taking a broken bed with us, we opted to get rid of it before the move and buy a new one once we reached the new house. It was a minor disaster. Eldest had terrible nightmares sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I really wish I had avoided that one.
  • Each of the boys packed a rucksack with small toys, books and a comic. I added sweets, squash and a couple of surprise books. When we arrived at the new house, we set each boy in a room with their rucksack while we unloaded the vans. Seemed like a great idea, and the boys were originally enthusiastic. The reality was a fiasco! The boys were bored, fractious and extremely resistant to this plan. After a few tricky moments, we kept the boys close to us instead and things improved.
  • We home educate, so we’re not looking for a new school. Instead, we want to find some new home ed groups to hang out with. Unfortunately, we’ve moved in the middle of the summer holiday, and a lot of the local groups aren’t running. That’s made things a little disappointing for the boys. Waiting a few weeks to try out new groups is a huge deal and they’re feeling a bit lonely.

Clearly we have a lot of settling in left to do. Doubtless I will make plenty more mistakes! Hopefully, I will also manage a few more successes.

Either way, as Eldest says: the main thing is that we’re still a family.