When you’re a parent, moving presents more than its share of challenges. Packing, loading boxes into the truck, and making plans with moving companies is harder when you have little ones underfoot. Plus, your little ones have thoughts and feelings related to the move— feelings you need to address throughout the moving process. To ensure your entire family makes it into the new home without injury or too much stress, follow these six tips for moving with kids.
1. Tell Them About the Move
Some parents hold off on telling their kids that the family is moving. These parents’ logic is that waiting they can save the kids from some stress and sadness. However, children are quite intuitive, and they may pick up on subtle changes in your behavior as you plan a move without their knowledge. Their perception of change can cause them to feel worried and anxious as they wonder what big news you’re about to give them.
Usually, it’s best to tell your children that you’re moving sooner rather than later. Telling your children early gives them time to come to terms with the move before they have to deal with the stress related to physically moving items out of the home and relocating.
2. Help Them Say Goodbye
Understand that your child’s friendships mean a lot to him or her and that saying “goodbye” to friends before a move is difficult. Do whatever you can to make saying goodbye easier on your child.
For younger children, this may mean organizing a few more play dates in the weeks leading up to the move. For older children, consider hosting a goodbye party for their friends. These measures ensure your child has some closure, rather than a feeling that you’ve ripped them away from their social circle.
3. Take Them to Visit the New Home
If your children know little to nothing about the place where you’ll be moving, the months or weeks before the move may be very stressful as the children build numerous scenarios in their heads. Soon after you tell your children that you’re moving, make plans for them to visit your new town.
If you already have a house picked out, talk to the real estate agent and ask to take your kids on a tour. Visit the new school and find some exciting restaurants in town.
Being familiar with the place you’re moving will make the upcoming move less ominous for your children. They may even find something they look forward to in the new place, such as a cool park down the street or a colorful room in the new house.
4. Get Them Involved
Letting little ones pack boxes may seem more tedious than it’s worth, but even little children approach moving more positively when they feel like they’re involved in the process. When you let your child help you with moving-related tasks, they may start to see moving as something you’re doing together as a family rather than something that’s being done to them by their parents.
Obviously, your child’s level of involvement will depend on their age. Little ones can help with simple tasks like putting non-fragile items into boxes and putting sticker labels on boxes. Middle school-aged kids can tackle somewhat more complex tasks, like sorting through their clothes to get rid of worn ones and wrapping glasses in newspaper. Teens can handle jobs like disassembling furniture.
5. Have a Babysitter On Call
While involving your kids is important, there will be times when you really need to hustle in order to get things ready on time. You will also have a tough time deep-cleaning your home with little ones running around and making new messes. So, if you have younger children, ask a friend or family member if they can be “on call” as your babysitter throughout the moving process.
Ideally, you should have someone who can watch your child in their home so that when last-minute moving tasks demand your attention, you can drop the kids off and get them out from under your feet for a few hours. Getting your children out of the house will also help prevent accidents when you’re tackling potentially dangerous tasks like moving a big sofa down the stairs.
6. Take Time Out for Everyday Fun
In the weeks leading up to the move, it may be all that you think about. However, you should still reserve a little time for everyday fun. This will keep everyone, especially the kids, in a more upbeat mood, which will make moving easier on you. Schedule family game nights, movie nights, playtime in the park, or similar activities throughout the moving process.
You can also take steps to make moving itself more fun and relaxing. Make a game out of seeing who can pack their box the fastest or the most efficiently. Play “I Spy” and other fun car-ride games when you’re driving to the new place. If you maintain a lighthearted attitude toward the move, so will your kids.
Finally, consider hiring a moving company such as Bekins to help orchestrate your move. When you have little ones to care for, relaying on someone else to pack your things and transport them to your new home is invaluable. You’ll have more time left over to help your kids say goodbye, answer their questions about the move, and help them settle in.