Kids may not have to go to work, pay bills, or deal with a morning commute, but they have many of the same anxieties as adults…and one of them is moving.
Your kids may have reacted with either excitement or outright tears when you informed them of the changes to come. Whatever their feelings are about the situation, there are ways to make moving with kids easier on your entire family.
Breaking the News
Unless your child is an infant, you’re going to have to discuss the upcoming move with your kids. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to break the news about moving.
1. DON’T Wait Until Last Minute
As the adult, you likely came to terms with the idea of moving long before you called a realtor. So imagine if you were given notice that you had two months to leave your home without any warning.
Kids have hopes and plans for the future just like you do–even if those plans are more about the type of birthday party they want next year. Give your kids the “we’re moving” talk as soon as possible. The more time they have to warm up to the idea, the better.
2. DO Tell Them Why You’re Moving
Whether it’s a divorce or a new job opportunity, give as much detail as possible about the reasons you have for moving to a new home. Then explain the reasons behind the reasons.
Keep the conversation age-appropriate, of course, and listen to their input with respect.
3. DON’T Dismiss Their Concerns
Even if you are unable to resolve all of their frustrations, it’s important for kids to feel heard and understood.
In fact, your kids may benefit from knowing you have the same concerns about moving that they do, so share your own anxieties about moving. Then, brainstorm ways to overcome your worries as a family.
4. DO Stay Positive About the Move
Listening to their concerns, however, is not the same as dwelling on them.
Keep the conversation upbeat and focus on the positives of moving. Maybe it’s closer to your work, so they will have more time with Mom and Dad. Perhaps there will finally be room for that puppy they always wanted.
Above all, reassure them that they will continue to be safe and loved in the new home.
5. DO Involve Them
Your kids are more likely to get on-board with your plans if they feel involved in the moving process.
Have the entire family pitch in decluttering the house and planning a garage sale (hey, it’ll be great math practice!). Take them house hunting and ask for their opinions. They might even bring up points you hadn’t considered.
Now that you’ve broken the news, your kids will have some emotions about moving. These emotions could be positive or negative but either way, it helps to get acquainted with their new way of life.
6. DO Visit the New Neighborhood
If possible, visit the new house and/or neighborhood before moving day. Spend some time exploring the area to get the kids excited about living there.
This will be easier if you’re simply moving across town, but if you’re moving to Arkansas or Oregon, you can still give them some idea of your new living situation. Go online and look up pictures of your new city, things to do, and fun local customs or activities you’d like to try.
7. DO Introduce Them to the Moving Crew
If you have young children, it can be unnerving to have a stranger show up and start taking away their stuff. Introducing them to the moving crew will help everyone feel more relaxed on moving day.
8. DO Throw a Goodbye Party
If you’re moving long-distance, consider throwing a goodbye party as an opportunity for you and your kids to say goodbye to friends and family.
Having that closure can help ease the transition, and it’s also the perfect occasion to collect phone numbers and email addresses so you can stay in touch.
Packing With Kids
Kids who are feeling anxiety about moving will likely put off packing as long as possible and may become irritated if you even bring up the subject. But even kids who are looking forward to the new adventure may not take well to having their toys and belongings packed away.
That’s why it’s important to approach packing your kids’ rooms with a little bit of fun. (Or, have your moving crew take care of the packing for you!)
9. DO Color Coordinate Moving Boxes
Your children’s belongings should be the last things packed and the first things unpacked. But when you’re sitting in a new house full of identical boxes, how do you know where to start?
Make your children’s moving boxes instantly recognizable by using brightly colored duct tape or having your kids decorate their boxes with stickers and markers.
10. DO Label Boxes Clearly
It can be tempting to just scribble “TOYS” on the side of the box and leave it at that. But you’ll be kicking yourself when you’re digging through 18 boxes looking for one particular LEGO set.
When packing kids’ boxes (or any boxes, really), be super specific about the contents. Unpacking will be so much easier when you know which boxes are winter clothes and which are for summer.
11. DO Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Any parent can tell you that everything takes longer with kids, from getting in the car to moving to a new home. If possible, don’t try to pull off a last-minute move with kids in tow.
As soon as you know you’re moving, start decluttering and packing up the house. When it comes to moving with kids, there’s no such thing as being “too early.”
12. DON’T Pack All Their Toys
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, your kid is going to want something to do during the move.
Leave their favorite toys or comfort items out of boxes altogether. Not only will they have something familiar near them during a tumultuous time, they’ll have something to do during the drive.
13. DO Pack a Moving Essentials Kit
Pack a moving essentials kit for each member of your family, filled with anything you’ll need for the first night or two in the new house.
Aside from a change of clothes and personal hygiene items, your kids may want to bring their favorite toys, books, or snacks to keep them happy and entertained.
14. DON’T Expect Too Much Help
Teenagers are one thing. Preschoolers are another. Make sure your expectations are in-line with your child’s abilities.
With toddlers, the best you can expect is that they won’t unpack every single item. You may need to wait until your kids are asleep or at school to pack their stuff.
15. DO Prepare Snacks
Kids, teens, adults…everyone gets hungry on moving day. Aside from the traditional moving day pizza run, keep a snack station in a central location for everyone (moving crew included) to grab a granola bar or bottle of water when the energy starts flagging.
16. DO Give Them a Job
No matter how much juice is left on the iPad, at some point, your kid will probably start wailing, “I’m boooored!” You can’t exactly take them to the park, so give them control over a simple job.
Have them pick up trash, check rooms for any last remaining items, or select some tunes to play on a Bluetooth speaker.
17. DO Get a Babysitter
If you have very young (or just very rambunctious) children, it might be easier to send them away for a day.
Ask a friend or family member if they would mind entertaining your children until the move is completed. Even if the most Grandma can do is take them to a McDonald’s play place for a couple hours, that’s a couple hours you’ll have with nobody underfoot.
Moving With Kids Long-Distance
Moving cross-country comes with its own set of challenges. You’ve got all the hassles of moving, plus the stress of a road trip. At Cento Family Moving, we’ve helped dozens of families just like yours move to a different state. Here are a few ways to make moving cross-country with kids a little easier.
18. DON’T Come Unprepared
Eight-hour road trips and 5-hour flights both need to be approached with careful planning.
Bring some entertainment, batteries, chargers, snacks, a change of clothes, cleaning supplies, and garbage bags during your travels so you’re not scrambling to find a store when you’re on the road.
19. DO Make it an Adventure
If you’re driving a long distance, turn it into a road trip, complete with pit stops at those quirky destinations peppering the country. Take pictures by the world’s largest ball of twine and see if Dad can eat that diner’s 8-lb. burrito and get his picture on the wall.
Or, your kids might enjoy documenting the trip and making a scrapbook once the frenzy of unpacking dies down.
20. DON’T Stay In the Car Too Long
Long car rides make for cranky kids. And while it might be tempting to speed through your trip to put an end to the whining, it can help to take frequent breaks.
Plan on stopping every few hours to grab a bite, run around, and get some wiggles out before you get in the car. (Psst…this is also a good time to clean the trash out of the car and find out what that weird smell is….)
You’ve finally made it into the new home! But this doesn’t mean the moving process is finished. You still have some settling in to do. And as excited as they might be to live in a new community or new town, your kids probably want to get back to normal.
21. DO Unpack Kids’ Stuff First
You can probably deal with living out of boxes for a little while. Your kids feel differently.
Minimizing the time your kids spend without their favorite things will help curb tantrums and restlessness, so unpack your kids’ boxes and get their rooms in order first. If your kids have not been looking forward to moving, it may be helpful if their new room’s setup is similar to their old room. Other kids may jump at the chance to create a whole new look.
Get their opinions on where furniture and artwork should go or (if they’re old enough) let them loose to do it themselves.
22. DO Restore the Routine
As much as possible, get back to your regular routine. Stick to the schedule your kids are used to for sleep and family activities. If you do family pizza night every Friday, don’t skip it. If their bedtime is 9 pm, enforce it.
Moving to a new home can sometimes cause youngsters to act out, either from excitement or anxiety. Sticking to a routine lets them know that nothing (besides their address) needs to change.
23. DO Explore Your New Neighborhood
You promised the kids that their new community would be full of fun things to do. So prove it!
Visit the beach, kid’s museum, park, and any other places your kids have been looking forward to. Sign them up dance class or a sports team to help them meet friends in the new neighborhood. Getting out there is the best way to make a new place feel like home.
24. DON’T Throw the Moving Boxes Away
Kids love to play with them! (Plus, you’ll earn some major cool points.)
25. DON’T Forget Old Friends
Last, but not least, don’t forget to stay in touch with the friends and family you left behind.
Your kids can write letters, send e-mails, or make Skype calls to those they miss the most. If you live within a few hours of your old address, you may even want to plan a housewarming party (or sleepover) for old and new friends alike.
Moving with kids will never be a walk in the park, but it shouldn’t be a nightmare either. By keeping your kids entertained, in the loop, and in control, you can make moving a little easier on everybody.
At Cento Family Moving & Storage, we treat your family like we would treat our own. Whether you’re looking for a full-service moving company or just someone to get you from here to there, we would be honored to assist you. Contact us today for a free quote.