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Performing any task with a couple kids in tow can be a challenge. And moving with kids, whether it’s down the street or across the country, may very well be among the toughest challenges a parent can face. Changing homes takes a physical and emotional toll on everyone involved.
As you schedule the moving team, pick up the keys for your new home, and start packing up boxes, use these suggestions to make moving a little easier on you and your kids.
1. Introduce the Concept Early
As soon as you know for sure that you will be moving, bring it up with your kids. Young children may need the concept explained. They may not understand that all your belongings will be coming with you, their friends and acquaintances won’t disappear, and that your family will all live in the new house together. Addressing the move early gives you time to explain and for your children to come to terms with the concept.
Your older children will also need time to adjust to the idea. They will likely have a strong emotional response to the prospect of changing schools, leaving a familiar neighborhood, and living apart from their friends. Explain why you are making the choice to move and give them time to get used to the idea.
2. Get Them Involved
If you try and do all your packing on your own, you may end up spending more time extricating fighting children than labelling boxes. Instead of trying to separate child care and packing, get your kids involved. Here are some ideas to make packing a team effort:
- Give each kid a box to fill with their favorite toys.
- Assign a cleaning chore to each kid (cleaning mirrors, emptying trashcans, and sweeping floors are ideal kid chores).
- Have each kid fill a backpack with things they’ll want on the drive.
Save tasks your kids can’t help with for naptime, the school day, and the babysitter’s shift.
3. Pack Smart
Labelling clearly and packing things you’ll need right after you arrive are only common sense. When you have kids, you have a few more things to take into consideration. Keep a first aid kit, extra diapers, a change of clothes, any medication your children need, and snacks accessible and together.
4. Make it an Adventure
Your kids’ attitudes can make a big difference in how smoothly the move goes. Get your kids excited by turning the process into a game or adventure. Use the following tactics to help your kids have fun while getting things done:
- Equate the move to the quest of one of their favorite characters (the trek to the Misty Mountains in The Hobbit, Miguel and Tulio’s search for El Dorado, or the move in Toy Story for example).
- Turn packing and cleaning into a series of games.
- Visit museums, natural and historical sites, and relatives on the way to your new home.
5. Plan Entertainment
Long drives can get dicey quickly if the kids don’t stay entertained. Plan a couple lines of entertainment defense to keep the kids content for the entire drive. Here are some ideas:
- Put in a movie.
- Bring a box of books.
- Play an audiobook.
- Pack a box of crayons and coloring book for each kid.
- Come up with some road trip games (like looking for license plates from each of the 50 states).
6. Make Unpacking Their Things a Priority
Once you’ve unloaded the moving van, make a plan for what you’ll unpack first. Some things, like silverware and everyday clothes, can’t wait. But after you’ve unpacked the immediate essentials, begin unpacking your children’s belongings.
Many kids get attached to locations and objects. It’s not just their favorite blanket: your child is likely accustomed to having access to certain toys and clothes and the way their room is arranged. By unpacking their room first, you allow them to begin the process of acclimating to their new surroundings (with as much familiarity as possible).
7. Communicate with Them
No matter how early you talk to your kids about the move or how small the adjustment may be, your child may have difficulty with the move. They will likely miss their friends and teachers. Your kids may even be concerned that by leaving they have hurt your old house’s feelings. Encourage your kids to come to you with their concerns so you can help them work through their feelings.
Moving with kids requires careful planning, but it doesn’t have to be exhausting or overwhelming. Use these tips to keep your kids excited and well-behaved while you’re packing up, driving, and settling in to your new home.