If you’ve moved recently, then it’s likely the physical and mental scars of the experience are still fresh. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Moving can be full of exciting new beginnings, but it can also be stressful, exhausting and overwhelming- especially if you are moving with kids!
Last month my husband, three kids and I moved four miles down the street from a rental house to our new (hopefully) forever home. This move marks the 18th time we’ve packed up our belongings and the 5th time we’ve done it with young kids.
I believe our kids have been raised to be resilient, but it is still a difficult transition each time. Kids like their routines and things to be predictable. Moving throws all of that into a tailspin. Here are some tips for making the move less stressful for you and your kids.
Prepare them for the Move
Talk as a family about your plans for the move. You want them to understand what’s going on so that they can start to process the change. If you have older school-aged kids, they may be worried about leaving friends or having to change schools.
I made sure to listen to my daughter’s concerns without minimizing them. She had to start at a new elementary school and was really worried about leaving our good friends and neighbors.
Mom Tip: If possible, visit new schools or parks in the area, so your kids get excited for the move and feel more familiar.
Purge and Organize in Advance
Take time before a big move to go through all of the kid’s toys, books, puzzles, art supplies, stuffed animals, bikes and balls. Sort through clothing that your kids may have outgrown and baby items that are no longer needed. Donate, sell, or toss anything that you don’t want to move- there is no point in moving items that you no longer want!
This is a great time to get the kids involved and to talk about the move. I made sure to explain to my kids how important it was to get everything organized and sorted before we moved so that we could easily find everything when we are unpacking and so nothing got lost.
Mom Tip: Use various sized ziplock bags to keep puzzle pieces, board games, Lego sets, and other toys with small pieces all together.
Get the Kids Involved
We purchased a new home, so our family would visit the lot often, take pictures of the progress and watch as our house was built. The kids loved to see their bedrooms as the house slowly went from the foundation, to wooden frames and finally a finished residence.
We also included the kids in the packing process. There are a lot of things that they can help pack including clothes, towels, shoes, toys, books, silverware and lunchboxes. It’s not about the size of the job- it’s about feeling included and working together.
Mom Tip: Pack a week’s worth of clothes for each kid in a suitcase and then box up the rest of their wardrobe.
Ask For Help
I 100% recommend hiring movers whether you are moving locally or cross country. Moving is hard. You don’t realize quite how many things you own until you are stuck trying to pack, load and move it on your own. We’ve also had a couple of great experiences with hiring packers who came in with all of the supplies and packed up everything.
If you are asking friends for help- be specific. Do you need help packing, some meals once you get moved in, someone to watch the kids for a few hours? Your friends are willing to help you out, but sometimes we’re too afraid to ask.
I would definitely suggest getting someone to watch the kids on the day of the move. We gladly accepted help from family willing to watch the kids while we packed, coordinated the move out cleaning and orchestrated the actual move on moving day. Even if the kids are older, there is a lot going on and you want to be able to focus on the task at hand.
Mom Tip: Ask family, friends or Facebook for boxes and moving supplies instead of paying for your own. Lots of people list free moving supplies on groups like Facebook.
Before we moved we had a mini block party with our beloved neighbor crew. The kids played outside, we barbecued and ate. The kids were sad about leaving their friends, but they knew that we would still get to see them. On the last day in the house, we went through every room and said goodbye to it. This small gesture seemed to help the kids understand that we were leaving for good. We also took some pictures of each of the rooms before they were packed up.
Mom Tip: Leave a stamped envelope with your new address so that friends or your child’s teacher can send them a letter to the new house.
Set up the beds first
The day before we moved, we washed all of the bedding and put it into huge plastic trash bags. Then the kids slept on their mattresses with sleeping bags. On moving day, we made sure the beds were the first thing we set up and made with fresh sheets. Having their beds waiting for them at the new house made it feel more like home. They had their beds ready to go, their special blankies and a few books and toys.
We were all exhausted by the time it was time for bed, so having that small piece of home made a big difference. I was most worried about our one year old being able to sleep, but with his crib set up and his blanket, he had no problems falling asleep the first night and going down for his nap the next day.
Mom Tip: If you don’t have curtains or blinds yet, tack up sheets or purchase the temporary paper shades for the windows.
Stick to the Routine
Although things may feel super chaotic leading up to the move and for the first few weeks once settling into the new house, try to keep as much routine and consistency as possible. Stick to the same meal times, nap times and bedtimes so you don’t have to reestablish the routine.
My husband is in charge of the bedtime routine, and he made sure the kids had their teeth brushed, jammies on and read a story the first night in the new house even though everything else was absolute craziness.
Mom Tip: Stock up on healthy, finger food type snacks that don’t require any prep. These are perfect for the first few days when you don’t know where all of your kitchen items are and you are just too tired to cook a real meal.
Give them a Choice
Even if it’s not a big decision, let your kids have some say in the new space. Whether it’s choosing the paint color for their room, setting up which toys go on their shelf or picking out a new rug for the playroom, let your little ones decide on some aspects of the new house.
Even small choices like these will make them feel more included and give ownership of the new place. Kids might be feeling a slew of emotions associated with the move, so remember to include them when you can and remind them that they are an important and loved member of the family.
Mom Tip: Wait to buy too many new pieces of furniture or décor until you’ve had a chance to unpack and see how your family uses the space.
A Fresh Start
Moving can be a really exciting and fun time for your family. It’s a new beginning- a fresh start! For us, it meant we finally got to put down permanent roots in Nevada. I loathe moving, but it always feels worth it in the end. We love to keep the energy positive and remind ourselves that the chaos will die down quickly. It’s amazing how fast you can get things unpacked and start to feel settled.
You’ll be surprised how well kids deal with change if you give them the tools for a successful move!
Allison Anderson lives in Sparks, NV where she and her husband of 15 years are raising 3 kids- Grace, Braxton, and Leif. She considers herself an expert in friend-making and resiliency after 18 coast to coast moves as a military spouse. Allison graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in journalism, but has worked in a slew of positions including public relations for veterinary hospitals, Stroller Strides instructor and online ESL teacher to students in China. To date, motherhood is the best job she’s ever had. She loathes making dinner and vacuuming but encourages splashing during bathtime. She enjoys family camping trips in the RV, cheering for the Buffalo Bills and shopping on Amazon.