Moving with children can make what is often a strenuous, stressful experience even more challenging. Children don’t like to have their routines disrupted and it can be even more stressful on them than it is on you. We’ve put together a list of 15 ideas that can help you make moving to your new home a little bit easier for everyone involved.
- Discuss the move ahead of time, explain why your family is moving and tell them you want their help. Even young children will enjoy having a “job” and can help with throwing toys into a box.
- Don’t pack everything right away. Ask your child to pick their favorite toys to keep out until the day of the move. You don’t want a bored and frustrated kid driving you crazy for two weeks.
- Label your child’s boxes with extra detail. Don’t just label as “toys” or “clothes”. There will be a time when your child is wanting something specific and you won’t remember which box of toys or clothes it is in so save yourself some trouble and be explicit on the box.
- Have a party before you leave. Invite all of your children’s friends, take lots of photos and video, and make sure you have contact information for all of them. It will help kids, especially older ones, feel better if they know that their friends are only a phone call or video chat away. Also, if you are moving long distance, saying goodbye to friends is crucial. Being denied an opportunity to say goodbye to people who are special to them can cause anger and anxiety that can stay with them for a long time.
- If possible, visit the new house together before you move and ask them to imagine where their things will go in their new room. Draw it out together and make it a plan. If you can’t take them to see the house, try to have a photo or video of their room so they can get a virtual feel for it.
- Show them on Google Earth where the house is located and what is around it. Point out parks they can play at and where their school will be. Older kids will also be interested in shopping, movie theaters, public pools, skate parks and other fun spots in the area. Help them to use Google Maps to find a new dojo to continue their karate lessons, a new dance studio or any other activity they are currently pursuing.
- You can also use Google Maps to show them the route to their new home and, if it is going to be a long trip, have them help plan where to stop along the way such as one of their favorite restaurants for lunch. This breaks up the time spent in the car and gives them something to look forward to.
- If you are moving to a new city, make a list of important phone numbers and addresses such as a new doctor and dentist, the closest emergency room and the closest pharmacy. You can expect the unexpected to happen. It may be a sudden fever spiking in the middle of moving, a fall and bump on the head, or a skinned knee and you’ll need to find a doctor or pharmacy urgently. Have the information ready so you aren’t looking for it in a panic later.
- On the day of the move, be sure to keep a bag in the car of special toys or blankets as well as games then pack the rest. Pack a change of clothes in the car as well since spills or potty training accidents are likely.
- Make sure your kids understand they can’t be underfoot as things are being moved out of or into the house. Occupy them with a game, playdoh, a book, or anything that will keep them busy.
- If you have very young children and a friend or family member offers to take care of the kids while you move, say yes, yes yes! Moving is stressful as well as physically and mentally demanding. Kids pick up on their parents’ stress like radar and they will absorb it making them more likely to act out or become needy. Take a few hours to move without your children there and you’ll get done more quickly with less stress for everyone.
- Before you pick your child up from their caretaker, start to unpack their room first. Make sure the furniture is in place as you had planned together, the bed is made, and the favorite toys are in plain sight. This way they will have a sense of familiarity when they walk into their new room and feel more at ease that all of their stuff made it there.
- If you aren’t able to arrange for child care, make your child’s room a priority once the truck is gone. Help them get their room settled as much as possible first so they feel they have their own space again. This will also make them feel like you recognize moving is difficult for them and that you want them to be comfortable in their new surroundings.
- Take your time with unpacking the house. Get the major parts settled but don’t feel like you have to unpack every single box on the first or second day. Again, getting stressed out will affect how the kids feel about their new home.
- In fact, keep the boxes around for a little while. They make great “forts” and kids can be occupied for a long time playing in and around empty boxes.
So what do you think? Tell us about your experiences and what you recommend to others who are moving with children. How have you made it a better experience? We'd love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.