In my few short years of being a parent, we’ve moved with a child — or children in tow five different times already. We’re not a military family and we’ve always done the moves on our own, which practically gives us the “crazy” label for bringing the hectic into our lives by choice. If you’ve ever had to pack up an entire house, you’ll understand when I say just how much is can suck at times.
But, if you’re armed with a few tips before you start packing, the process can go a lot more smoothly. Having done this a time — or two or FIVE already, I have some easy tips to offer up should you find yourself moving house with kids.
1. Purge, purge, purge
Before you start throwing your stuff into boxes get rid of items you haven’t used or won’t be needing at your new home. This is especially important for kids toys and clothes they’ve outgrown. In this situation less is more.
2. Pack unneeded items
Start packing up items stored deep in your closets, unneeded kitchen items and anything that isn’t a necessity while you’re in transition. It’s easy to start this while kids nap or settle for the night.
3. Include the kids
If possible include the kids in packing and talking about the new adventure ahead. Our daughter was almost four on our fourth move so she helped pack boxes of small items and we made a paper countdown chain so the change would be exciting rather than scary.
Make time to spend a little extra time with the kids outside of the packed house. Take them to a favorite playground or indoor bounce house. Squeeze in some outside time or family game time to reward them during the big transition.
5. Be understanding
Change as big as a move will come with behavioral changes in your children. Be ready for it — good or bad — and show them compassion and understanding.
6. Be flexible
You may want to throw all your high expectations out the window temporarily. Be flexible with meals, screen time and schedules. Meals you don’t have to prepare are a lifesaver, entertainment screens are your friend and schedules are thrown to the wayside. It’s okay to have a loose routine and accept it’s not forever.
7. Make it special
No matter how far the distance or the mode in which you’ll get there make the move special for your children. Set aside some new road trip toys for the drive. Browse the dollar section of Target or the Dollar Store and let your children choose a few toys or food treats to add to their road trip bag. Keep the car bags handy and well stocked to last the duration of the drive.
8. Settle in
As soon as you’re able set up your children’s rooms so you can get back into a routine as soon as possible. Make them feel at home and settled into their own space. Unpack the kitchen and keep the snacks handy! The rest will fall into place.
Photo credit: adapted from Phil Scoville | Flickr