By itself, moving can be a stressful life event, one that people have ranked as high as having trouble with one’s boss. But moving with children? Yikes.
However, when you’re moving your entire family, things get a little more complicated. On a purely logistical level, more family members to pack equals a longer to-do list.
But perhaps more importantly, moving has a number of psychological effects on children. The unknowns surrounding the move can feel scary to kids (and to adults, too)! Plus, saying goodbye to your old school, house, and neighborhood can bring up a lot of emotions like sadness and anger. Your kids may struggle with these, depending on their level of emotional maturity. Finally, many children thrive on routine, and their usual schedule will likely get disrupted in the days and weeks surrounding the move, which can leave them feeling unsettled and frustrated. All this emotional toll can wreak havoc on parents, too.
We’d love to help make it easier for your family. We’ve put together a list of eight tips, based on our experience moving thousands and thousands of families, including our own! Although every child—and every family—is different, we hope you find these useful to help your kids make a smooth transition to their new home.
#1: Make Moving with Children Real (and Fun!)
As early as you can, talk to your kids about what moving will mean for them, and give specific details they to latch on to. By turning a big concept into concrete changes your children can grasp, they’ll have a much easier time visualizing and adjusting to their new reality.
For example, if you can, make a visit to your new home, so you can:
- Show your child his or her new bedroom. Take a few pictures, and consider talking through things like where the furniture will go in the room. This will help your child start to get oriented in his or her new space.
- Start teaching your child his or her new address—one simple, concrete detail they can easily understand. That way, if someone asks your children where they’re moving, they can share details to build independence and confidence around the move.
- Visit your child’s new school so he or she can envision attending every day. (If you can do a school tour with your child’s new teacher, even better!)
Additionally, as much as you can, see what kind of excitement you can build around the move. Maybe your child will have a larger bedroom or a full backyard. Get excited about these little details, and your child will, too.
#2: Get Them Involved
Give your children a few small jobs to do in prepping for your move. By involving them in the action, they’ll feel like the transition is something they’re a part of, rather than something that’s happening to them.
A few ideas:
- Ask your child to pack a few boxes, such as their favorite toys or books. Label them together so your child knows exactly what to look for when you’re unpacking at the other end.
- If you have more than one child, consider giving each a colored marker. That way, they can color-code their own boxes and feel confident that their stuff will go in the right room.
- Consider letting your children pick out one new item for their room, such as a set of curtains, a rug, or some kind of wall decoration. This will help build anticipation and excitement around their new bedrooms.
By assigning a few simple (and realistic!) tasks to your child, you’ll give them the chance to contribute to this momentous family occasion. Their participation can give kids a greater sense of control and reduce potential anxiety around the move.
#3: Help Them Pack a “Moving Bag”
Just like you’ll want to pack yourself an overnight bag to keep the essentials at hand for your first night in your new house, we suggest you help your kids pack one, too. They’ll get a lot of certainty out of knowing they can keep their bag with them during the entire transition.
Additionally, for younger kids, you might want to consider one additional bag that’s just for favorite toys, books, and games. That way, you don’t have to go searching for fun at your new house. This has the additional benefit of allowing you to leave your child’s most treasured items out until right before the move, which can give your child some extra comfort.
#4: Keep One Tradition Alive While Moving with Children
Knowing what to expect from their daily lives can give kids more confidence. Additionally, in an environment that’s rapidly changing, traditions can offer your kids additional stability and security.
Consider keeping at least one family tradition constant before and after your move. This might be Friday pizza night. It might be going to a place of worship once a week. It might be a visit to grandma on the weekend. Whatever it is, it will offer your children some comfort they can count on.
#5: Make Out-of-the-House Plans for Moving Day
No matter how well you plan, Moving Day will be an action-packed event with lots of pieces to coordinate. If your kids are out of the house on a play date, that will be one less thing you need to think about. (This is especially true for younger kids!) Planning an activity away from home will also keep your kids from getting tangled up as boxes, appliances, furniture, and more get hauled out of your house, ensuring the safety of both the kids and adults involved.
If the mere idea of Moving Day is stressing you out, let the experts handle it all for you. Ask your moving company for a quote for a full-service move. Under this option, a moving crew will bring all the materials they need to pack your entire house. Then, they’ll load all your items, transport them to your new house and unpack everything they packed at your old house. If you’re pressed for time—or simply want the convenience that comes with this choice—a full-service move is a great option to simplify your family’s transition.
#6: Say One Final Goodbye
Understanding when one thing ends and another begins is an important part of child development. Depending on their ages, you may need to help your children say a meaningful goodbye to your old home.
This might take the shape of a final good-bye party with your friends, family, and neighbors. Or it might be as simple as a final walkthrough of your empty house to talk about the memories you made there.
Either way, taking the time to express a final goodbye will help your children end one chapter of their lives and begin the next with eager anticipation.
#7: Make Your Beds ASAP
There’s just something deeply comforting about our beds. When you arrive at your new home, we always suggest getting your bed set up first. That way, you can breathe easy knowing it’s ready for you when you need it.
Once yours is done, head straight to your kids’ rooms and get them set up, too. Like you, they’ll find security in knowing that their bed is ready and waiting for them. If they need a few moments to chill out—or take a nap—you’ll be well prepared!
#8: Expect Moving with Children to Be an Adjustment
Transitioning to a new home is hard on adults, too. Expect it to be a little challenging for your kids. That way, a few bumps in the road don’t come as a surprise.
That being said, many kids are extremely adaptable. You may find that they start calling the new place “home” earlier than you do. If that’s the case, you can mark this worry off your to-do list and move on to the other items—like getting your new kitchen set up.
Finding the Ease in Your Transitions
Some children will be nervous about moving. However, when you position it right, moving can feel like an exciting adventure they’re eager to be a part of. Sure, your kids will miss some of the things they’re leaving behind, but there’s plenty of room to build enthusiasm for all the new things that come with moving. Plus, by prepping with the eight tips in this list, you’ll create some additional comfort, stability, and certainty that will pave the way for a smooth transition to a new home for your whole family. (You included!)
Need some help with your family’s move? We’d love to assist—and we’ve got full-service options available if you want us to handle all the packing and unpacking. Just reach out to us for a free quote to get started.