Moving can be a stressful time, especially for children. Here are a few tips to make the transition a bit smoother. We are here to help with any questions you might have – Janet has moved over 60 times, and I (Jennifer) have moved over 40 (!) so we have a bit of experience with moving and are more than happy to share our knowledge!
1 – Prepare Them
Kids are surprisingly resilient, but it helps if they know what to expect. Moving is considered one of the most stressful things to do, and kids are not exempt from feeling that stress. When you decide to move, sit down with your kids and talk about it. Explain that your home will start filling up with boxes, and that things will start to fill those boxes – meaning they will disappear for a short time. Explain that some items will be leaving for good (allowing them to help you drop things off at the donation center can help too), but most things will be back in the new house.
The key to making it a smooth transition is communication. Explain why you are moving – is it for a job? Better schools? A nicer home? Kids like to understand the “why” of things. It helps them process through the change.
2 – Let Them Pack Their Things
Keeping kids involved in the entire process of moving is key. If they are old enough to fill a box, let them start packing their rooms. Young children can pack up their stuffed animals and toys very easily, and you can reassure them that they will see all of their ‘friends’ again when they unpack in the new house!
This is also a good time for them to go through and let go of some toys that they don’t play with as often. Let them know that they will be donated, and that another child will get to enjoy playing with the toys they no longer have time for, or aren’t really interested in anymore.
Older kids can take a larger role in packing their things, and helping load boxes as well. My kids were packing most of their things by the time they were in kindergarten, and were carrying their boxes out to the pre-loading area by the time they were in 4th grade. By the end of 8th grade, they helped me pack up the house & load the moving truck. Make sure that you give your kids jobs that are appropriate for their age, but they can absolutely help out!
One key tip that we do is label all of their boxes or use plastic bins in their favorite color. My oldest has a stack of empty turquoise blue bins (and a few light pink ones) in the garage that are hers. My youngest has a stack of lime green bins waiting for her. These have been their moving boxes for years, and whenever we move, everyone knows that their bins go directly to their rooms. If we had to supplement with cardboard boxes as well, all of the writing on their boxes was in bright blue or green, and had a sticker on the side & top to make it easy to see where they went. Each room of the house has it’s own color, which makes unloading so much easier!
3 – Show Them Their New Home
Take them with you to look at the new house once your offer has been accepted and let them have a chance to see their new room. This will help them get excited about the move and help them understand that they will get to see all of their things again.
Take a walk around the new neighborhood too! See what local park is the closest, and maybe grab lunch or dinner at a nearby restaurant to help them get more comfortable with the new area.
4 – Pack A Moving Bag
The day before moving day, have them pack a special bag with some of their favorite clothes, their toiletries, and their favorite few toys. This will often ease some of their concerns about losing their special things, because they will have them with them. Enlist the help of a family member, friend, of neighbor that they are comfortable with for a place for them to stay while you load everything into the truck.
5 – Set-up Their Rooms First
When you arrive at your new home, focus on getting their space set up first. Set up their bed and dresser, and create “their space” before they arrive (if possible). Allow them to focus on unpacking their boxes and deciding where their things will go while you focus on getting part of the living space set up next so that they have familiarity outside of their rooms as well.
Making sure that they get to bed as close to their normal time as possible is helpful too. Keeping them on their schedule will help over the next couple of weeks, as kids often tend to have a harder time thank adults adjusting to a change as drastic as moving to a new home.
6 – Do Something Unique
Talk to your kids & see if there is something fun and a little out of the ordinary (like a pizza picnic on the floor) that they would like to do inside the new house to make it “your house.” Allowing them to have input will give them ownership, and help ease the transition.
When my girls were young, we set up the tradition of ordering pizza and eating it while sitting on the dining room floor before the table was brought in & set up. It was a “special something” that they looked forward to, and was their way of staking a claim on their new home. It was something that they looked forward to with each move – yes, we have moved often enough that we have moving traditions!
Moving with kids can be stressful, but keeping them involved in the process and letting them help where they are able will help them make the transition to a new home much more easily.
Do you have any tips for moving with kids that you would like to add? Tell us in the comments below!