Even under the best of circumstances, moving is stressful. There’s so much to do and never enough time to do it. Your stuff seems to double overnight. It can be hard to keep yourself organized and calm during even the simplest of moves. But for kids, moving is an even bigger disruption. They may not understand why the move is happening, and their efforts to help in packing and other moving tasks may wind up creating more work. But with some preparation and attention to the process, moving with kids can be a smooth experience — or at least as smooth as any move can be! Read on for tips on moving with kids.
Let kids know what to expect during and after the move. Moving is an upheaval for the whole family. Let the kids know what to expect at each step of the process. How you approach this topic will vary depending on how old your kids are, but letting them know what to expect in an age-appropriate way will help allay moving anxiety. Reassure them about the parts of their lives that will not change — like your love and attention — along with explaining the various parts of the move.
Make it into an adventure. Often we focus on the hard parts of moving, but moves are also an opportunity to explore someplace new. Whether you’re moving across the country or just across town, talk to your kids about all the new things you’ll get to see and do in your new home. Look at pictures and videos of your new town or city online, look up local attractions and celebrations, and invite your kids to brainstorm the things you’ll do after the move. If your move is more local — say, to another home in the same town — go explore the new neighborhood to see what there is to be excited about there.
Let them help. Find age-appropriate ways for children to help with the preparation for the move. Work with them as needed to pack up their belongings. Ask them to help with pre-move cleaning. Older children and teens can likely work pretty independently at sorting and packing belongings. Younger children can be given smaller tasks like helping tape boxes shut or putting labels on boxes. Helping kids feel involved will make them feel like they are part of the move, rather than that this is something that’s happening to them.
Keep the important stuff handy. Be sure to keep your child’s most prized or important items from being packed deep in the boxes. Pack favorite toys and activities last, and if possible keep them in the car with you instead of the moving truck. For smaller children, having a favorite stuffed animal or comfort item will help ease moving day anxiety. Even older kids will benefit from having something familiar immediately accessible. This way, you won’t have to dig for these items when you reach your new home (or your first overnight stop on a long drive). For longer moves, consider packing a travel bag with comfort items, toys, snacks, books, activities, and other things that will keep your kids occupied and calm on the trip.
Make the new place feel like home. Moving into a new place is always an adjustment, but having some familiar things in place can ease the transition. When you arrive in your new home, do some basic things to make it feel like home right away. As you pack up your old home, you might designate a box or two of items to unpack the first day — items that make your home feel especially like yours. This can include family photos, favorite art work or knick knacks, or familiar table linens or dishes. Kids can choose a few items from their rooms to unpack right away so that they feel more at home. Also remember to pack essentials — blankets, sheets, towels, and toiletries — so that everyone can settle in for the first night comfortably.