If moving and relocating weren’t such ubiquitous aspects of today’s society, my first tip for moving with kids would be: DON’T DO IT. Ever. For any reason.
Think: packing for a family vacation on steroids. Your belongings are literally flying out of boxes as quickly as you’re putting them in. And while your little ones are likely excited, hyper little hooligans when they’re counting down to a vacation, that is not the case here. Your hyper little hooligans are now giant balls of anxiety and tension. That toilet paper roll collection your little one has been saving for the past six months? It is suddenly priceless and irreplaceable. Into a box it goes.
Gone are your single or young married days when you could fit all of your earthly belongings in the back of a friend’s pickup truck. Now, your belongings actually appear to be multiplying as you pack. (Can that happen?!) Moving is HARD.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, whether you’re excited about the change or not, moving with kids is an extraordinarily stressful experience. As an adult, I struggle coping with change; I cannot expect my children to cope with grace at every turn. My people may be little, but their feelings are as fierce and intense as my own. New places and experiences are scary, especially for a child who has only ever known one place.
That being said, our little family has moved across the country twice in the past eighteen months, and we’ve gained some wisdom in that time (I hope!). Here are a few things we found that made our transitions easier.
1. Pack up your children’s rooms last, and unpack them first.
Even with chaos in the rest of the house, our children felt much more stable having a “safe haven” in the house. They needed their own space that felt familiar and comfortable for as long as possible. We packed the kids’ toys and books a day or two ahead of time, and the furniture remained in there until the moving truck arrived.
As soon as each child woke up in the morning, I washed their sheets and packed them all in the same suitcase. When we arrived at our new house, the kids’ furniture went in first, and I made their beds immediately.
2. Find something positive about the transition.
This is going to look different for every family, depending on the circumstances of your move! Is there something your kids couldn’t do in your old house that they would be able to do in a new one? Maybe you were renting before, and now you are purchasing a home. Could your child decorate his/her room? We found it incredibly helpful to allow our oldest daughter to decorate her new room. She chose the paint color (with help!) and new bedding. We were also able to find some super cute, affordable wall art that fit her personality.
Maybe you will have more space in a new house? What would your family like to do with it? Perhaps now is the time to get a pet. Has your child been begging to try a new activity or hobby? Your new city might have a fantastic soccer league, tennis center, or dance studio. Research your available options and find out what matches with your child’s (current) hopes and dreams.
3. Include them!
Again, this will look different for every family. I am in no way suggesting that you drag your kiddos to 45 different houses on your house-hunting search. If you do, your last stop that day will either be jail or the local bar. Both less than ideal with kids in tow.
However, you can look for ways to give your children a sense of control. You could do the house-hunting, and narrow it down to your favorite few. Bring your children to those few and get their input.
Let them help you pack. Again, I don’t advocate that you let them loose in your house with a sharpie, but they can do something. Take them to the park near your new house. Drive them past the schools, if your kids are school-aged. If your children can’t be in your new city ahead of time, look online together. Explore your new city virtually.
4. Accept help whenever and wherever you can.
If you are in a financial position to hire a moving company, DO IT. Those delightful individuals will do the heavy lifting for you. They will even pack for you. It will cost you money, but save you countless hours of your time, brain cells, and shreds of sanity.
If not, and your friends and neighbors offer to help carry your insanely heavy overstuffed couch, LET THEM. If your mama friends offer to bring over a bottle of wine and help you pack, LET THEM. Don’t underestimate how difficult this experience will be. You will appreciate these helpful angels more than you know.
In this moment, I swear I will never move again. Three years from now, when I want more space, or a different yard or whatever else, I may be singing a different tune.
What would you add to this list?