In the last 12 years, my husband and I have purchased and sold three homes locally and done all the moving on our own or with the help of a few friends. However, our most recent move was a little more interesting. We had two little people to add to the chaos and it became significantly more challenging. Not to mention all the extra “stuff” that comes with along with having children.
Sooner or later many families consider moving for one reason or another. Some move because of a new job, others may have a growing family and need more space. In our particular situation, it was a combination of reasons. We needed more space with a 3 year old and a newborn on the way and we were looking to the future for a more desirable school zone. Whether moving across town or to another state, moving can be a stressful situation for all, especially children. Here are a few tips to help ease the experience on children.
1. Communication is Key
Depending on the age of your children, keeping an open line of communication is vital. Plan a family fun meeting and make a favorite dinner or order pizza. Explain why you’re moving and that you’re excited. Regardless if it’s due to a job transfer or a financial situation, children know if you’re happy about the move so try and keep positive vibes.
Explain how it will impact the family. Will each child now have their own bedroom? A new yard with a sandbox? Or perhaps, be closer to Grandma and Grandpa? Share your first experience of moving to a new home when you were young. Children see the confidence and excitement their parents exude and it’s contagious. So, if a move may not be for the happiest of reasons, find the positives and put a spin on it.
Just be careful what you tell young children. When we were moving, we told our 3-year-old daughter we needed more room for her and her new brother to play so we were buying a bigger home. She was fine with that and then started telling everyone she met she was going to live in a big house. Although she was happy and okay with moving, it made me cringe every time she told someone we were moving to a “big” house.
2. Host a “Farewell” Party
Host a potluck and invite family and friends over before all the craziness of moving ensues. Create a memory book and have friends leave a picture or write their favorite memory. Exchange all contact information so kids can stay connected via Facetime, Skype and email.
3. Clutter Control – Keep Children Involved
Pack your child’s room up last and unpack it first. Most small children worry about if all their special belongings will make it during the move. Make a check list with your kids listing the things most important to them. Pack the “special box” together and take it in your car if at all possible.
With older children, moving is a great time to purge unwanted items. Have the kids go through their rooms and make three piles: keep, sell, & donate. Then have them assist you throughout other rooms of the home to keep them involved. Let them know you don’t want to toss everything. It’s ok to keep items with important memories.
If you’re holding a yard sale, decide as a family what particular item you will buy with the proceeds; a flat screen television, a swing set or possibly a new family pet.
4. New Home Visit
Once the new home has been selected, take the kids on a walk-through if it’s in the same town or city. If not, look for a virtual tour online of the home or show them the listing pictures. Point out which bedroom will be their very own and ask how they’d like to decorate it. Show them the swing set in the backyard or tell them about the features of their new neighborhood. Does it have a pool, tennis courts or a playground? You can also visit the local branch public library, the YMCA or where their new dance studio or soccer field is located.
5. Moving Day
If you have a toddler or infant, enlist the help of your friends or family to babysit. The morning of our move, I tried keeping my colicky 3-month-old son with me but I ended up just getting in the way. Fortunately, my in-laws were just down the road and happily took him off my hands so I could assist loading the moving truck.
Be sure to keep important items such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or toy in the car with you at all times. It’s also important to know where children’s medicine is stashed in case of an emergency. Who wants to dig through 30 boxes to find the acetaminophen in the middle of the night?
6. Room Planning
You’re finally in your new home! Make decorating your new abode a family affair. Involve the children in decorating more than just their own bedroom. Ask for wall color suggestions and have them select paint swatches from the nearest paint store. Have them make a collage and paste pictures of desired room color, linens, furniture and accessories. Then, like on television, plan a “Big Reveal.” Including children in the final product will give them a sense of ownership.
The first few nights we were in our new home, our daughter was apprehensive about sleeping in her new room. I decided the rest of the house could wait and quickly took her to our local hardware store where she happily selected 20 different shades of “Princess Pink.” I selected the least offensive pink out of her pile, painted her room and gave her a new pink quilt set and wall art and she was excited to sleep in her new big girl room. Then it was on to setting up the rest of our new home.
Are you a frequent mover? Please share your best moving tips in the comments.