Whether you are moving across town or across the country, moving into a new home is a stressful event. Packing and unpacking is one thing, but you also need to learn to navigate a new place, find your way to work, locate a supermarket, and learn the layout of your home. The move becomes more stressful when little ones are involved. You’ll need to manage your own anxiety over the move as well as theirs. Here are some top tips for making a move with kids as easy as possible.
When your children are little, they may not understand what moving means. To their young minds, moving is filled with uncertainty and feelings of loss. They don’t know what to expect. You can make the move easier on your kids by making sure that they understand exactly what will happen. Explain that while the family is moving to a new house, you will still be together and have most (if not all) of your same stuff. Yes, your kids will have new rooms, but they will have the same bed, their toys, and anything else that’s meaningful to them. Explain that you will be boxing everything up, but you’ll be unpacking it all together very soon.
Moving houses is challenging. There is so much to do, so much to pack, and so much to throw away! Don’t let pride get in your way. When someone offers to help you, let them. It will make boxing up your belongings infinitely easier if you have someone packing while you mind your children or vice versa. Not only will it help keep your kids entertained, but it will give you some space to come to terms with packing all your worldly possessions into a few dozen brown cardboard boxes.
If you are letting someone help you pack up, be smart about it. No matter how careful the person is, if you are going to hover when they pack up your family heirlooms – why bother? Give your helpful friends a clearcut task that doesn’t require your supervision, like boxing up your dishes, and make sure that you explain any preferences. Whether you are color coding your boxes, numbering them, or simply wrapping everything in two layers of newspaper, say so.
Involve your Kids…
Get your kids involved too. Even the littlest ones can sort their toys and help wrap things. “Give them all a box that they can fill up with their stuff,” advises Christine Tate, blogger at mom.me and Outlaw Mama. “You may have to repack it later, but when I brought my kids into the process, it gave them a sense of ownership and control over this massive process that was upending our lives.”
…But Not With Everything
Involving your kids is wonderful, but only to a point. Even if your children identify belongings that they would like to give away, it can still be hard to let go. Make the process easier for everyone by doing the heavy lifting while the kids are asleep or out of the house. “I can’t tell you how many times I found my kids playing with toys that I had just thrown away. And the meltdown that ensued when my daughter found her beloved giraffe art project in the trash still makes me shudder,” says Tate. “Avoid these scenes: Do it when they are asleep, and take the trash all the way out of your house. If you just leave it in the kitchen trashcan, they will find it and will react. Poorly.”
Keep the Memories Alive
You can also help your children adjust to moving by keeping memories alive. As you are preparing for your move, spend some time with your kids making a memory board, collage, or scrapbook that documents their favorite things about your current home and the people there. Alternatively, and especially if you are moving far away, have a farewell party to give your kids a chance to say goodbye to everyone and help turn the final event into something to which they can look forward.
Finally prepare yourself. Moving is stressful and it can bring up lots of emotions. Your kids are going to be looking to you for clues on how to deal with everything. Set a good example by mentally preparing yourself for the move. Your kids are going to have a few items that they absolutely NEED – both favorite toys and extra clothes – but you can plan ahead for that. You can also label all your boxes with the most care and keep a careful itinerary of what’s inside each one so you can always get exactly what you want when you need it. If you find yourself unable to locate something, you can always buy a new one whatever-it-is. There is a Walmart or Target around every corner. Don’t stress.
Written by Malka Abrahams • Links Residential REALTOR®
Chirco, Alyssa, “Moving With Kids: 23 Can’t-Miss Tips to Help You Cope,” Parenting Squad, July 7, 2011. [Accessed: http://parentingsquad.com/tips-for-moving-with-young-children]
Roberts, Lindsey M., “11 Tips for Moving with Kids,” Washington Post, February 1, 2016. [Accessed: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/02/01/11-tips-for-moving-with-kids/?utm_term=.343972724a3a]
Schaefer, Caroline, “Smooth Move: Make Moving Easier on You and Your Kids,” Parents Magazine. [Accessed: http://www.parents.com/parenting/money/buy-a-house/make-moving-easier-on-you-and-your-kids/]
Tate, Christine, “Top 6 Tips on Moving With Small Children,” mom.me, August 16, 2013. [Accessed: https://mom.me/toddler/8595-top-6-tips-moving-small-children/]
Two Men and a Truck, “Follow These Moving with Kids Tips for a Smooth Move!” [Accessed: https://twomenandatruck.com/moving-with-kids]