Moving with your family is a big moment for everyone involved. Your children will learn how to say goodbye to the only home they might have known, adjust to a new town or new neighbors, and possibly part ways with friends and family. All of these elements can have a huge effect on your children whose regular routines and surroundings are disrupted. The best thing you can do for your entire family is to make sure the kids are part of your move and well-adjusted before, during and after you’ve settled into your new home.
At Armstrong – Nashville, we’ve moved our fair share of families throughout every state in the country and we are dedicated to reducing stress and creating a seamless experience. Check out our seven tips for moving with kids!
1. Start the conversation
We all know that kids ask a LOT of questions about a multitude of things, so don’t expect this behavior to change when it comes to a new home and/or new city. Instead of waiting for their questions and anxiety to start trickling in, sit them down for a conversation very early in your decision to move. Your family is a unit and they need to feel well informed as much as anyone, no matter the age.
Additionally, it helps to give updates and talk about the days they’ll be moving and what packing up your home will look like. Throughout every step make sure you’re communicating what an exciting and adventurous process this can be!
2. Involve them in the process
While there are tasks not suited for your little ones, there are plenty of things they can pitch in to help accomplish that will keep them busy and engaged.
For example, you can have your kids do an inventory of their room to decide what they don’t need or want to keep. This task can double as more a learning experience about tidiness and discerning what is no longer needed. Once your children have identified the items they know they’ve grown out of or simply don’t want anymore, have them help you donate them. Before dropping off your items at places like your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other non-profit charitable organizations, discuss what purpose your items will serve there. Talk with your kids about how getting rid of toys and books in preparation for your move means another child will be able to love that toy as much as they once did and how the profits will go on to help others in need.
Any task you can have your children do on their own or alongside you will help them feel involved, empowered and ready to take on this big transition as a family.
3. Make an essentials bag/box
As a parent, you’ve probably experienced the meltdown that ensues after a beloved stuffed animal or blanket has gone missing. These items serve as an emotional anchor when a child’s surroundings feel strange and are essential to have close at hand during move day.
Have your child pick a box and let them go to town decorating it–crayons, markers, stickers, you name it! You want them to feel like it’s theirs. Next, you can start helping them fill it with all the things they’ll really need during the move like:
- Change of clothes
- Favorite comfort toy
- iPad or tablet
And of course, any miscellaneous items that they are bound to insist are essential, like their favorite picture from the fridge or a sock (you know kids). Regardless of how essential it really is, if it makes the cut in their mind, and is reasonably able to go in the box, add it.
4. Talk often and openly about the plan
Depending on how young your children are they might need more than just the generic schedule of events during the move. Some older children may want to know more about the strange team of people who will be in their home, where their things will be going on the day of the move, where they’ll be sleeping, and other unknowns. It’s good to get into the practice of opening up a dialogue daily and asking, “How are you feeling about the move? Do you have anything you want to talk about?”
5. Visit the new area (physically or virtually)
If you are moving within the same city or nearby you might have the luxury of driving by your new home a few times before the move or talking to your kids about the areas they can look forward to exploring in your new neighborhood. If you’re scheduling a walkthrough or inspection, consider bringing the kids along rather than hiring a babysitter so they get a chance to explore the new home before your move.
On the other hand, if you’re preparing for a long-distance move, you can show them pictures and let them do a virtual tour of the space if your seller or renter offers it. Take the time to help them do a Google Maps walkthrough of your neighborhood so they can get a look at possible playgrounds or skate parks within walking distance. You can do the same for the school where they’ll be enrolled, and show pictures of where you’ll be working so they know about your transitions as well.
6. Prepare move day activities
Moving is hard enough when it comes to the actual day, but it’s made even harder if kids aren’t occupied. If you’re moving locally, try to arrange for family or a friend to watch them for the majority of the move. When it’s time to to load the last box and head to your new home, make sure your older kids get to be a part of this moment. Often leaving their old home and stepping foot into a new home is a moment they will remember forever.
For kids of all ages, you’ll want to have activities close at hand — and fully charged. Moving days are not a day to judge yourself for giving your kids screen time. Get those iPads and iPhones charged up, load up on snacks and quick-fix meals, and ready enthralling toys or video games systems that you might want to have plugged in as soon as you head to your new home.
7. Unpack their room before any non-essential spaces
Make sure to prioritize setting up the children’s room first. Having familiar furniture, bedding, toys, and pictures can help them adjust to the new setting. You want them to have a safe space to feel calm and rest easy.
Bonus tip for parents
As a parent, we know you want to do what’s best for your kids, but don’t forget to give yourself a break too! Moving is hard; so, when you have to resort to quick meals and screen time more than you like, don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
Moving may be scary at times for your children, but with the proper involvement and communication they can have so much to feel excited about! By keeping an open line of communication that is exciting and understanding and constantly taking the emotional temperature of your children’s needs, you can help your family feel ready for this move and be better prepared for unexpected transitions later in life.
Use this list of tips for moving with kids and help make your new journey a more enjoyable experience for your kids and the entire family.