Managing a Move with Kids

by Grace Brooke

moving with kids

Ah the joys of moving which are only magnified by the presence of small children. For most people moving can be quite a bit of work. When you add small children into the mix that amount of effort multiplies exponentially along with the stress.

So what should you do?

Unfortunately there is not a one-size-fits-all approach that works. However, as a mother of two, I have learned quite a few things over the years – most of it through trial and error – that I am glad to share.

Empowering the Kids

Part of the problem with a move is that kids feel powerless. Think about it…often parents tell them “we’re moving” which allows them no input on the decision. Therefore it helps to involve them in as many other decisions as possible.

  • The Wish List – Have the family sit down and make a list of all the things you want in your new home such as separate bedrooms for kids, a bigger backyard or even a tree for a tire swing. Try and make sure everyone gets at least one thing they want.
  • House Hunting – Let them see prospective houses. While the decision is ultimately for the parents, make sure you take their input seriously.
  • Designed by Kids – Let the kids help design their own rooms, from paint to furniture arrangement. You can even turn it into a project for them to work on while you are packing using construction paper to map it all out.
  • Make a Memory Book – For out of town moves take some time to gather photos, visit favorite places and share memories. Saying goodbye in the right way allows for closure.

moving boxes

Moving Tips

  • Prepare the Kids – Moving is a complicated process that your children might only have a basic understanding of. Explain all the steps, how long it will take and exactly what will happen.
  • Ask for Help – Moving is a lot of hard work and having people like friends and relatives help out is a huge blessing.
  • Packing Projects for Kids – Let kids lend a hand by packing some of their own things, wrap items in bubble wrap or work on labels. Even if you have to re-do things at night it will keep them involved in the process.
  • De-clutter After Hours – It can be hard enough to get rid of items as an adult, but for kids it can be next to impossible. Often you will agree to get rid of something and 30 minutes later they have it out and are playing with it feverishly. Avoid this problem by working on this project when they are asleep or out of the house.
  • Don’t Rush – It is hard to get things done quickly and efficiently while kids are underfoot. Make sure you have plenty of time so you aren’t frustrated with the inevitable interruptions that will occur.
  • Listen to Kids Concerns – Kids can and will vocalize feelings, questions and concerns. Listen and treat their feelings with respect, even if you can’t accommodate what they want.
  • Goodbye Party – This is a great way to turn a move into a positive, exciting experience – throw a party! This gives kids (and you) a chance to say goodbye to the people who matter the most and have some much needed fun.
  • Pack Special Bags – Favorite toys, activities and clothes should be in special bags for the kids that stay with them the entire move; this provides something to do during the trip and is a source of comfort.
  • Special Box of Toys – Kids will need things to do right up to the move and as soon as you get to the new house. Have a special box (or two) of favorite toys and games to pack last and then unpack first.
  • Provide Alternate Entertainment – Babysitters, day camps, modeling clay, a new movie or anything that will keep those kids occupied will help you get a lot more done.
  • Make it an Adventure – Moving is often a crazy time. Rather than get upset by it, embrace it and have more of an adventure allowing kids to do things you normally wouldn’t.
  • Follow Routines – Once you are in your new space it is helpful to try and follow familiar routines. Nighttime and tuck-in routines, Sunday morning pancakes, Friday afternoon games of catch and other things let kids now that just because you moved and some things changed, not everything does.
  • Reassure Kids – A home is security for most kids and moving can cause insecurity about other aspects of life. Reassure kids that you will always be there for them even if a home or school changes.
  • Make it Feel Like Home – When unpacking, focus more on making it feel like home rather than just getting it done quickly. Put up familiar things first.
  • Explore the New Environment – Get out and see what the new neighborhood has to offer and get kids excited about their new home!
  • Use Postcards and Email – Let kids send pictures and share their new home with friends and family.
  • Use Moving Boxes for Fun – Did someone say “box castle in the living room?”

Moving is one of the top-five most stressful things to go through in life right up there with death and divorce. Understand that it will be tough and make sure you have time to not only get the packing done, but also to have time and space for yourself to deal with excitement and sadness that often overlap during a move.

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