You’ve found your dream house–the perfect place to raise your family. It’s a beautiful new build with a big yard, friendly neighbors, nice parks and great schools. You’ve finished all the headache of closing on the home and selling your current place; now all you have to do is survive moving with your kids.
Between packing, hauling and adjusting to a new environment, moving to your dream house can quickly turn into a nightmare for you and your family. Use these tips to make things go as smoothly as possible and keep your little campers happy throughout your move.
How to Tell Your Kids They are Moving
First things first, you have to tell your kids about the move. While you may be worried about settling into a new neighborhood and making your furniture look good in a new layout, your kids’ whole world is going to be uprooted and turned upside down by your relocation. They will lose friends and familiarity and will most likely have a difficult time adjusting to the new circumstances. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier for your children.
- Tell them as soon as possible. If you have a move in the works, chances are your kids already know something is going on. Let them in on your move as early as possible to help them prepare and make them feel included.
- Give them enough details. Depending on their age, your kids might need more than a general overview of where and when you are moving. Make sure they know things like the exact date you’ll be in your new home, what life is going to be like while you’re packing up the house and whether they will be sharing rooms or not in your new home.
- Help them find reasons to be excited. Your kids are going to find several reasons to not be excited on their own. They need your help to feel excited about leaving their old friends behind and moving to a new place.
- Answer their questions. Let your kids ask you questions and give them honest answers to help them feel more at ease. They might wonder how they will keep in touch with old friends or what their new school will be like.
- Help them understand their feelings. This is one of the most important things you can do to help your kids. They will experience big scary emotions, and they might not understand what those feelings are are or how to deal with them. Use books, music or clips of favorite TV shows to help you children understand their emotions and deal with them positively.
15 Tips for Moving With Your Kids
Once you’ve told your kids about the upcoming move, it’s time to buckle down and get everything ready. Keeping track of kids, dealing with grumpy attitudes and hauling those boxes full of heavy toys and books are just a few of the challenges you might have to deal with. Here are 15 ideas for surviving your move with kids.
- Start earlier than you think you need to. It happens to everyone–moving day sneaks up and you find yourself throwing things in boxes and speed-scrubbing floors while the moving truck is on its way. Get started packing and deep cleaning as early as possible so your family can be fully prepared for the big day.
- Make a moving-week plan. Sit down with your kids and plan every detail of the last week before your move. Decide what meals your family will eat and where/how they will eat them. Create packing schedules to cut back on last-minute stress. Plan out who will be riding in which car and how everyone will make it to your new home safely.
- Come up with to-do lists. Recruiting your kids to handle simple jobs that need to be done prior to your move is a win for both of you. Give them lists that include cleaning duties and items that need to be packed before the move.
- Stick to routines. Having a set schedule does wonders for young minds. The best way to cut down on uncertainty and alleviate stress in your children is to make sure family schedules and routines don’t get tossed aside during the moving process.
- Utilize kid-free time. What’s harder than packing every possession you own into a bunch of cardboard boxes? Doing it while you’re trying to manage a household. Turn naptime into pack time, and get as much work done as you can while your kids are at school.
- Color-code boxes. Keeping boxes organized, especially when you have too many tiny helpers, is no easy feat. Get colorful stickers or tape to mark each box for a fast and easy kid-approved organization method.
- Pack overnight bags for everyone. Make sure every member of the family has a duffle bag with all the essentials. Use these bags for the last night in your old home and first night in your new home.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Children tend to accumulate a lot of things they don’t need: broken crayons, old school assignments, buckets full of old toys and so on. Between their old junk and your old junk, you probably have a dozen boxes’ worth of stuff you don’t need to pack. Throw out as much of that junk as possible to save time and packing tape.
- Be sneaky. Along with accumulating junk, kids also get attached to said junk. Get rid of items at night, during school hours or any other time they won’t notice. I promise, your kid won’t miss those paper scraps once they’re gone.
- Keep a positive attitude. Your kids pick up on your energy, so do your best to stay positive during the moving process. This is especially important while settling into your new home, as your kids are likely to already be experiencing anxiety.
- Hire a babysitter. Here’s a fantastic date-night idea: you send your kids to the sitter’s house while you and your significant other get busy. And by get busy, I mean packing boxes as fast as you can. Date-nights aside, hiring a sitter is a great solution for younger kids who aren’t in school and moving during summer months when none of your kids will be in school.
- Give your kids a say. Letting your children make a few decisions and be involved in the moving process will help them feel like they have more control and stability in their environment. Ask for their opinions and let them help with decisions they really care about–or at least give their input.
- Take pictures of your old home. If your kids are like most, then they’ll have a hard time saying goodbye to your old home. Taking pictures, making memory books and having one final goodbye are all ways you can help your children feel less anxious about leaving.
- Allow enough time to adjust. It could very well take your children the better part of a year to fully adjust to their new surroundings. Be patient with your kids, and expect strong emotions for the first little while.
- Befriend your neighbors. Giving your children opportunities to make new friends will help them settle in and adjust more quickly. It will also keep them busy, giving you enough time to unpack all of those boxes.
How to Pack With Kids
Even if you’ve done everything you can think of to get your kids excited about your upcoming move, they’ll probably still hate the chore of packing. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ll fight you at every turn and break into already packed boxes while you aren’t looking. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to stress-free packing with kids, but here are a few tricks.
Sort, Sort, Sort!
This is the main thing most children won’t be able to do on their own. Depending on their age, your kids might need you to offer a little guidance (think preteens) or just sort everything yourself (think toddlers and babies). Get everything sorted into three sections: keep, discard, sell/donate.
Most kids will be able to pack all of the “keep” items into boxes once you show them how.
If your kids are dragging their feet to pack and sort, it doesn’t hurt to offer a small reward as motivation. You could offer to let your kids keep any money that they make from selling their old things or pick out a new item for their new room once they get everything packed. Incentives are a clever way to make packing into less of a chore for everyone.
Make it a Competition
There’s nothing kids love more than beating their siblings at literally anything. Use this competitive spirit to your advantage by turning packing into one big game. Set a time for each packing “round,” and let your kids pack as much as they can during that time. Everything must be packed neatly in order to get credit, and the winner gets some sort of prize.
Donating Old Toys
Give your unused and unloved toys a second chance by donating them instead of throwing them away. Donation is more than just a great way to get rid of the extra clutter, it’s a chance to teach your kids about giving and charity work.
Remember earlier when I said to be sneaky? Slipping broken pencils and year-old math homework out while your kids aren’t paying attention is a great idea, but make sure your kids are involved in deciding which toys to donate. Help them understand that the toys they don’t play with anymore can go to another child who will give them all the love they deserve.
If you’re stumped on places to donate toys, check out this list of places for ideas.
Finding Storage for Outgrown Toys and Clothes
If your kids have outgrown certain toys and clothes but you don’t want to get rid of them, you still have a viable alternative to stashing them all in your new home. The answer? Storage. If you happen to have enough boxes of old items to fill your entire garage, a traditional storage unit might be a good option for you.
But what about those of us who only have a few boxes of old stuff?
Good news! Storage space doesn’t have to be one of those 10×10 cement blocks on the edge of town. You can find storage space as small as a coat closet using Neighbor. Chances are you’ll find the perfect storage solution in your own neighborhood, so you won’t have to drive out of your way to retrieve your items.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that adding kids to an already stressful situation equals a lot more stress. If you take the time to prepare your kids beforehand, let them be involved with the moving process and keep your cool, you’re bound to have a less bumpy ride.
Although, I can’t promise you won’t hear, “Are we done yet?” over a hundred times before it’s all over.
What’s your go-to survival hack for moving with kids? Let us know below!
Other Moving Resources
Moving and packing guides
- How to Move a Couch
- How to Move a Mattress
- How to Move a Refrigerator
- How to Move a Piano
- How to Move a Pool Table
- How to Pack Shoes for Moving
- How to Pack Dishes and Glasses