So you’ve decided to move. Whether it’s across the street or across the country there are a few things I’ve learned that can make the move a lot easier on your family and happier for your children.
- DISCUSS the move with them. Be honest, even the littlest ones can sense change. All kids deserve to know what’s going on and why. Even if it isn’t a move you wanted to make, keep a positive attitude, children will follow your lead.
- CREATE a wish-list with them. If you get to pick your new home and your children are old enough to contribute, let them help. For example, a nice backyard, a special playroom area, and separate rooms could be on the list. We opted for a house with a slightly longer commute so that we could have a big fenced backyard and a nice playroom/homeschool room that the kids will love.
- BRING them house hunting! Take your kids to see potential homes with you. With the internet, it’s much easier to pick out favorite homes and cross out others without having to look at them in person. You can also show your children pictures on the computer. If possible, schedule multiple times to see the new house. Local moves are easier because you can bring the kids to the inspection, or just back for a visit if the house is vacant. That way they will have seen it a few times before the big move and feel more comfortable.
- VALIDATE any feelings your children might have. Even if they seem silly to you or you don’t agree with them, their feelings and thoughts are a big deal to them. Most of the time if you can validate their concerns and brainstorm answers, the transition will be a lot easier.
- GOOD-BYES. It is critical to make sure they can say good-bye to their friends, school, babysitter, favorite park, etc. Visit some of these places one last time to say good-bye. Also, don’t forget to remind them when it’s their last night in the old home and then wave good-bye to your old house when you leave.
During the move:
- PACK with help! Even if it takes a little longer, older children can pack up their own room. Younger ones can help you put their favorite toys in boxes and decorate the boxes. A pack of special crayons or markers and even a few stickers will go a long way to making these boxes special and keeping little ones entertained while you do additional packing.
- KEEP an old toy, or a special new toy, that will stay with them throughout the move. My kids have found it comforting to know they can play with their special stuffed animal or a fun new ball no matter where we are.
- DON’T clean-out toys by yourself! Now is not the time, especially if you have younger ones who might not fully grasp the concept. My daughter is 5 and still worries about things getting left behind at the old house during a move. Cleaning out is perfectly fine, but make sure you involve the kids. Now isn’t the time to have toys disappear while they are sleeping.
- UNPACK with help! Don’t forget to let the kids help unpack. Older kids can unpack their entire room while younger kids can help organize toys and games. The kids’ rooms are also one of the first places we unpack. It’s a pretty easy task and helps them feel more comfortable in their space.
- TAKE shortcuts to make things easier on yourself. We are a pretty “green” and “clean eating” family, but don’t feel bad using paper plates and a few more convenience foods than you typically would. I remind myself that it’s a short period and once it’s done we’ll be thankful for our fully home-cooked meals and regular routine.
- PICK paint colors & bedrooms! Go to your local home improvement store and let the kids pick out paint swatches to bring home and hang up on the wall. We let our kids choose their wall colors and even pick out which room they want. Our two and five year olds look forward to painting their rooms too. If you have a family bed (or they don’t have their own rooms), let them pick out a fun color for the playroom or another area of the house they spend a lot of time in.
- POINT out all the positives to the new house. For example, perfect built-ins for new toys or a nice fenced yard with lots of space to play.
- SLEEP together. We typically have a musical beds situation going on in our home but post-move we just all start out in the same place. I also make it a point to all go to bed at the same time so that we are there if someone wakes up.
The more frequently you move, the more important it is for internal stability. With lots of love, understanding, and attention, moving can be a positive experience for children and you will likely grow closer together as a family.
What’s your favorite moving tip?