Let’s face it: moving your house is an exciting part of your life but one that is physically demanding and stressful. And when you are moving with kids, it becomes even harder. It can be challenging to balance decluttering, organizing and packing boxes with taking care of your children’s needs. How do you clean out the closets while making them sandwiches? How do you load the truck without tripping over the toddler?
Here are ten tips that can make moving with kids a bit easier for you.
1. Hire a professional moving company
If you don’t want to read the rest of the tips in this article, hire a moving company. They’ll take care of everything from packing to loading the boxes on a moving truck to transporting your items safely over long or short distances. We did this when we moved from Vancouver Island to the lower mainland and it was the best decision ever. I drove away from our old house with my kids for Christmas vacation, and drove home to our new house, where the boxes waited for me to unpack.
Some companies will also unpack for you at your new place. We opted simply to have them pack and belongings and disassemble and and reassemble the furniture, and I did all the unpacking. (That was a big enough job for January!) Either way, the movers were super helpful with that move and I had no complaints about their packing.
You can try getting quotes from local removalists with Muval, which will help you quickly identify a company suitable for your situation. I recommend getting quotes from at least three moving companies. Compare not just the prices they offer you, but the way they talk to you and how they solve any problems unique to your moving situation. For example, we had a long, narrow driveway in our place in Vancouver Island. When I mentioned this to the moving companies, one company said, “What are you going to do about that?” and the other company said, “That’s our problem. We’ll get your stuff onto the truck.” I hired the latter company.
2. Pack the books first
As soon as you know you are moving, start packing whatever you can. For me, this was usually books and DVDs. We have a lot of books, so packing them was a big job. However, with the exception of a few books that can be left out of boxes, we don’t read every book we own every day. It’s easy to pack the books and have them sitting in a box. Look for other things you aren’t currently using that you can pack ahead of time, such as seasonal items, the fine china, etc.
3. Declutter before moving with kids
Every time we’ve moved, I’ve attempted to declutter, and every time I’ve unpacked after a move, I’ve wished I decluttered more. There’s nothing like moving ALL your possessions to make you really think about whether you’re really going to reread that novel from your English major days or wear that dress you bought for your best friend’s wedding again. Go through your shelves and closets and drawers and really think about what you use, what you love, what you need.
While decluttering, make sure that your belongings are also organized. Whether you hire a mover or pack your things yourself, having everything organized will help when you are unpacking. There’s nothing like opening a box full of mixed odds and ends to make you feel overwhelmed. Or nothing like wondering where you packed your dishcloths because they haven’t shown up in any of the kitchen boxes you’ve unpacked.
4. Get your children involved
Get your children to help you pack their things. They will often be excited about the move and want to start ahead of time. This will help you in two ways.
First, children are picky and honest. They will openly tell you about the stuff they really need, which will help you pack only necessary items. This will help you get rid of the clutter and make packing easier. (If your children tend more towards being pack rats, having their possessions in boxes for a month or two may help them realized that they don’t care that much about it after all. If they didn’t miss it during that time, maybe it doesn’t need to reappear.)
Second, children love it when you make them feel important. So talk to them about their stuff, take their opinion on what to take and what to leave behind, and include them in the packing process. This will keep them busy, and you’ll get extra helping hands to finish the job sooner.
5. Prepare lots of snacks
Moving with kids is a physically challenging task. You walk around a lot, lift heavy objects, and bend down to reach far off things under the bed.
It’s even more physically exhausting for children. During a house move, they’ll get hungry faster and become irritable when they do. And this can make the entire process super stressful for you.
So, make sure you’re stocked up on some healthy, easy-to-grab snacks all the time during your move. Since you might not get the time to cook proper meals at home, these snacks will ensure your kids don’t turn to an unhealthy diet.
Moving and road trips are the two times we tend to eat more fast food or order in more often. Don’t feel guilty that you may not have time to prepare a huge meal, or that everything in the kitchen is packed and you can’t cook anything. Eating deli sandwiches on the living room is part of the adventure of moving.
6. Take frequent breaks while moving with kids
During the moving process, you and the kids will get exhausted due to all the physical work and even the mental load of making so many decisions.
To keep yourself and your children fresh and active, take frequent breaks. These breaks should include talking to them about the overall progress, their feelings for their old home, excitement for the new place, and some words of appreciation about how helpful they’ve been during the entire process.
Step outside for a walk or go to the park for half an hour. Sit down and read some books about moving together to help them work through this big change.
7. Unpack and set up the dining room first
A dining table keeps a family together. Unpacking and setting up the entire house can take days to weeks. This is why it’s a good idea to unpack your dining table and related stuff first so that your family can sit together and feel at “home” in your new house. This will be especially good for the kids as they demand your attention and love. And even if you still need to order in pizza for a couple nights, you’ll at least have a place to sit and eat it together.
Remember to label things of immediate use when you pack them. That’s the only way you can find and use them first at your new place.
8. Set up their new room like the old one
Children are emotionally attached to their toys, room, and the house, which is why moving can be emotionally challenging for them. My 6-year-old experienced this during our last move, as she had lived most of her life in our condo. She spent a few days grieving our old home and her old room.
To help children cope with the change, try to give them an environment that matches their old room. You can:
- keep the layout of their new room just like the old one.
- bring out their old toys, storybooks, and decoration items, and arrange them as they were in their old room.
- ask them if they want their room painted with the same color as their old room (as my 13-year-old did in our new home).
- take plenty of photos of your old house and encourage your children to make a memory book.
9. Surprise them with gifts and favorite meals
Children love surprises. Plan a surprise for them on your very first night in the new house. This could be a new toy in their collection, food from their favorite restaurant, a fun night activity in the garden, or having friends or family members over to see the new house. My kids loved being “tour guides” and showing off our new home to visitors.
A surprise will get them excited, take away some of the stress, and help them settle better in their new house.
10. Have fun with the boxes
Once you’ve moved and unpacked all your possessions, you’ll have oodles of cardboard boxes and packing paper in the house. Don’t recycle it right away! Instead, have some fun with the kids. There are plenty of things you can do with cardboard boxes. Let your kids decorate a box (inside or out) with Sharpies or paint. Turn the boxes into space ships, race cars, or play houses.
What tips would you share to making moving with kids easier? How many times have you moved?
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