We have had a huge amount of change and upheaval in our family of late, which is still on-going, and which has been really hard on Miss 3 and a bit. We’ve sold and moved out of our house and a currently staying with my parents while we get the new house sorted. In addition to that I’m pregnant with our second child (due any day now).
All of this change and upheaval to her little life has been hard on her and as a result there has been a lot more ‘acting out’ than usual. We’ve tried as best we change to put measures in place to minimise the disruption to her life and also involve her in the change process so that she feels a little bit of control around what is happening too. With no idea of what we’re doing or if it’s right or wrong we’ve just been going with our guts and doing what feels right for her and us.
Staying at Mum and Dads
We’ve been really conscious to try and keep as much as possible to our usual routines, particularly around dinner / bath / bedtime. We’ve also made sure to have some of her ‘creature comforts’ with us such as her night light clock and her pillow.
When we moved out of our house I left her bedroom pretty much intact. It was pretty much the last thing to get packed up on moving day (while she was at daycare) so that she didn’t see or feel the impact of it too much.
She was upset about moving towards the end (at first she was very keen to sell the house but once she realised that selling the house meant moving she wasn’t at all keen on the idea), we spent a lot of time explaining to her that all her things would be coming with us and that she would still get to see Nana / Grandad /other family members as we weren’t moving away from them. I’m not sure if it was / is the right thing to do but we’ve promised her an Ariel doll as a bit of a bribe when we move into the new house to give her something else to focus on and something to look forward to.
We’re currently doing a few renovations to the new house before we move in and we’ve been getting her involved with things like choosing her own curtains for her bedroom. We also took her to the new house and showed her her bedroom and have discussed with her where she will put things in her room, which wall her princess castle will go on etc. Fortunately we are moving within the same suburb so lots of other things in her life will be staying the same (family, daycare, familiar shops and routines). The day we move she’ll be in daycare so hopefully she’ll be able to come home to a nearly put together room (or at the very least a made up bed).
In regards to the impending birth of the baby, we’ve been talking to her about it a lot, for a long time (she has even chosen a name for him, Max – hope she wont be too disappointed when we call him something else). She’s been very good about the baby so far and loves to kiss and hug my belly to give the baby kisses and hugs which is lovely.
I’ve also taken her shopping and she got to choose a ‘present’ for the baby to give him when he arrives and I’m also thinking of buying a present for the baby to give her as well.
I got a good tip from a friend to buy her a baby doll so that she has her own baby and we can both do ‘baby’ things together (e.g. she can feed her baby when I am feeding the actual baby), I haven’t purchased this yet but I think it might be a good idea.
To be honest, we’ve kind of been making it up as we go along and just tried to be as sensitive as possible to the fact that this is a rough time for her (without letting her get away with absolutely atrocious behaviour). We’ve been talking with her lots about how she is feeling about things and trying not to minimise how she is feeling because ‘she’s only a kid’.
Up until now we’ve just gone by our gut but I thought I would be brave and see what the internet has to say about helping toddlers adjust to change (and if we’ve completely stuffed it up it’s too late now but at least we’ll know for next time 😉 )
So here is some of the collective wisdom of the internet in regards to helping toddlers / pre-schoolers through change (turns out we haven’t totally got it wrong but did get a big old fail on #7)
- Explain the change in advance
- Keep routines
- Be consistent and patient
- Focus on the positive
- Allow your child to grieve over losses change as brought to their life
- Talk to them about their feelings
- Avoid making other big changes during this time
- Involve the toddler in what you are doing
- Have one on one time
What have you done to help your kids adjust to various changes in their lives? What worked for you / your kids?