Moving is stressful enough. But moving with kids can feel like a monumental task. There are the logistics to consider: Where will they take naps on moving day? How can you make sure they don’t wander outside while all doors are open? Will you keep their favorite toys from getting lost? What can you do to keep your sanity intact?
As a military spouse and parent, I’ve been through my fair share of moves with kids in tow. I’m sharing my tips with you to make your move a little easier.
Tips for Moving With Kids
1. Give them time to say goodbye
They will be sad. Let them have a big party and invite all their friends. Take lots of pictures, and have an autograph book or another type of memento that your child can take with them to remember their time together. There will be tears. Acknowledge your child’s fears and sadness, and let them know it’s okay to feel sad.
2. Connect in your new location
As soon as you decide on a new location, start making connections. If your child will be attending a new school, contact the administration and let them know your situation. Ask about the school’s culture and after school clubs, and get in touch with teachers. The more your children feel informed and prepared, the easier it will be to transition to a new place.
You can also connect with families in your new neighborhood through Facebook groups or the Nextdoor app. Consider signing up for sports teams or other clubs just before the move. Joining a group will give your kids an immediate group of friends and will create a new routine quickly.
3. Prepare for the unexpected
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through years of relocating, it’s that nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Always pack extra clothes, extra food, and extra toys. There will be accidents, longer-than-expected days, and complete meltdowns (by both the kids and you!). Be prepared for every eventuality.
4. Quietly clear out the excess
Moving offers you an opportunity to clear the clutter and get rid of everything you no longer need. But let’s be honest: kids aren’t going to want to part with the toy you found at the back of the closet (yes, the one they haven’t played with in two years). List unused items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, but arrange pick up during school hours or after the kids are asleep. Trust me; your kids won’t know the difference!
5. Color code boxes for easy loading and unloading
This little trick is one of my favorites. First, head to your local hardware store and find the Duct Tape aisle. Allow each child to pick a color and pattern of tape. This will be his or her color for the entire move.
Next, as you’re packing, place a piece of tape on each box or piece of furniture belonging to that child. When you start unpacking at the new house, place a small piece of the same tape on the bedroom door. That will be an indicator to the movers (or to your family) which boxes go in which room. It’s an easy way to get children involved with packing and make unpacking a breeze.
6. Enlist help
Moving heavy furniture with a child underfoot is dangerous and stressful. If at all possible, have someone else watch your kids on moving day. Schedule the heavy lifting during school hours, or ask a family member or friend to watch your kids. If you don’t have any connections at your new location, start posting on neighborhood social media sites to get recommendations for childcare. Even having someone supervise your kids in your home is helpful.
7. Have new surprises waiting
I’m not above retail therapy. Your kids have been through a significant transition, especially if you’ve moved to a new town, a new state, or a new country. Purchase something you know they’ll love and give it to them when you get to the new home. Or offer to let them buy something to keep them busy while you’re unpacking boxes.
8. Be patient
I know: moving with kids is stressful. But your kids are stressed, too. Try to keep your cool, and show compassion and grace when your kids act out. When you model proper stress relief techniques, your kids are more likely to model that behavior. Take some deep breaths. You’ve got this.