Whether it’s for a job, a larger house, or to be closer to loved ones, whether it’s just up the street or across the country, moving your family entails big changes. And when you make the shift with young children in tow, that transition can be tremendously stressful on everyone. Luckily, kids are resilient, and when you pack a positive attitude, most adapt to life in a new place fairly quickly. Here, I’ve collected the “been there, done that” advice of parents who’ve managed many a move — their smart and creative tips will bring you home sweet home in no time.
Communication About Your Destination
In a comfortable environment such as the dinner table, tell the kids all about the pending move. Explain why it’s happening and why you’re excited. Encourage them to ask questions and express any anxieties. Let them know you’ll be counting on them to help throughout the process, from packing boxes to organizing rooms. Very young children may not understand what moving truly means, so explain in detail what it involves and reassure them that what matters most — you — will be right there with them. Reading age-appropriate books about moving can also help.
Show and Tell
If your new home is nearby, take the kids to visit. Explore nearby parks, playgrounds, libraries, and community centers. Schedule time to see their school and meet the teachers. Set out on a bike ride or walk around the block, and look for children of the same age. Making new friends ahead of time may ease fears about leaving old ones. Moving far away? Show them pictures of the new house and town. If possible, beat the moving van by a day or two and stay in a hotel, then use that time to discover the neighborhood together.
Read All About It
Collect local magazines, newspapers, and guidebooks from your new locale. Flip through them together and hunt for pictures, places, and events that would be fun for the whole family. Choose one or two destinations that seem manageable during the week of your arrival, and when you get there, take a break from unpacking to explore these sites.
Room to Grow
Get the kids pumped up about their bedrooms and play areas by letting them pick new accessories, such as bedding or beanbag chairs. Talk about what colors they want their walls and enlist their help picking out paint swatches. If the kids are ready for a new sleeping arrangement like their own rooms or “big kid” beds, this is a great time to get them excited for the change. Once you’ve settled in, have friends and family over for a big reveal like those on home makeover shows.
“See Ya Later, Alligator”
Make plans for a future play date or visit with old friends, then invite them over for a “see you soon” party. Have everyone help your children make a memory board with pictures, drawings, and photographs. (When you get to the new house, hang it in a special place where your children can see their pals.) Have your children collect friends’ addresses in a blank notebook so they can send postcards from their new destination. As parting gifts, give guests pre-addressed, stamped envelopes so they can send drawings and letters to your new house.
Pack and Play
Have the kids help you pack toys and clothes. While boxing up favorites, ask about their best memories with those dolls, stuffed, animals, and games — then recall those memories when you’re unpacking in your new home. Since there will certainly come a time when you need that toy right now — and it will inevitably be before you’ve finished unpacking — it’s best to label boxes with detailed lists of what’s inside. Arm the kids with markers and have them draw pictures of the contents on cardboard boxes. Be sure to pack one bag of special toys last, so little ones will have something to entertain themselves until things go onto the truck. You might even carry it with you in the car so you can pull it out as soon as you arrive in the new house.
Give them a break
While you want to enlist the kids’ help with as much as possible, it’s also a good idea to give them a break (and give yourself time to focus on the task at hand). Ask a family member or friend to take them on a memorable outing in your current town during the move that they can then recall fondly as you make the transition.
Make New Friends
Once you’ve settled into your new home, brainstorm with your kids an inexpensive gift you can present to your new neighbors — berries picked from a local farm, flowers from your garden, or cupcakes the children helped bake, for instance. Then head out and greet the neighbors.
Think Inside the Box
As you empty cardboard boxes, let the children decorate them and create a box city in the backyard or a playhouse in the den. There’s nothing more entertaining to a young kid than a plain box paired with a lot of imagination!
About the Author
Robert Moreschi is the content writer for Movers.com, an online moving resource dedicated to providing its customers with free moving quotes from some of the top moving companies in the business including long distance movers, local movers, international movers, and auto transport as well as relocation guides and tools. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and currently resides in North Brunswick, NJ where he enjoys spending his free time writing and playing basketball.