Between packing, hauling, and unpacking in a new environment, moving is an inherently stressful process. Kids thrive in familiar settings, so the stress of moving can be highly disruptive to their sense of belonging and stability. This is especially true if they’re well-adjusted to their current school, neighborhood, and friend group.
The tips below are intended to help you ensure your family’s move goes as smoothly as possible and to give your children a chance to be enthusiastic through the transition rather than distressed.
How to tell your kids about the move
The space that your kids know and feel comfortable with will be temporarily uprooted through moving, so your first priority is letting your kids know about the move. This is much easier when you’ve engaged them in conversations about finding a new home, taking on a new adventure, and reminded them that they have valuable input (but not a final choice over the matter). When breaking the news to your kids, keep the following in mind:
- Tell them ASAP: Tell your kids about the move as soon as possible to give them ample time to wrap their heads around the move. The way you approach this task is key. Gather the entire family when you break the news and tell the kids before telling other adults.
- Give them specifics: Your children might need more than a general overview of when and where you are moving, depending on their age. Disclose specifics such as the exact moving date, what their new environment will look like, and where they will have personal space within the new home. Tell them your new address, the name of their school, and your neighborhood.
- Give them reasons to be excited: Your kids may find every reason to be pessimistic about the move. It’s your job as a parent to make them excited about their new school, their new room, and anything else they can look forward to.
- Answer their questions: Be open to all questions and concerns your kids have and give them honest answers to ease their minds. They might wonder how they’ll keep in touch with old friends or what their new school is like, in which case you should encourage them that they can stay in contact or tell them everything you know about their new school.
- Make sense of their feelings: This is crucial to help your kids adjust. Your children will experience feelings that they may not understand or know how to deal with. As a parent, you will need to be there to help make sense of them. Utilize music, books, and other forms of media to aid your children in understanding and dealing with their feelings positively. Check out the “Acknowledging the feelings of children before a move” section of this article, where psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish discusses how to aid your kids in dealing with their feelings.
How to pack
Children and adults tend to hate packing. There’s no single way to deal with the packing process, but there are tricks to make this necessary task less tedious and more fun:
- Sort: If you have preteens, they may need some guidance, while your toddlers and babies will require you to handle this task entirely. Sort things into three sections: keep, discard, and sell/donate. Check out these age-specific moving tips to help you out.
- Offer incentives: A small cash reward, an ice cream cone, or a new toy are examples of things you can offer your kids to make packing a bit more fun for them.
- Keep it competitive: This option is great for families with multiple children. A little friendly competition can go a long way in terms of motivation. Turn packing into a game by setting a time for each packing “round” where kids pack as much as possible during that time. Lay down the rules that everything needs to be packed neatly to get credit, and give the winner some sort of prize. This can be repeated until the packing is complete.
- Donate old toys: Instead of throwing out unused toys, donate them. Donation is an excellent way to get rid of extra clutter and an opportunity to teach your kids about charity work.
- Don’t pack beloved objects: You may be tempted to throw all your kid’s stuffed animals and toys into a box to clear space, but resist the urge and leave favorite blankets, toys, or craft projects out, especially if you have a toddler. Having a sentimental object throughout the moving process will comfort them and help get them through this nerve-inducing transition.
Credit: Money Crashers
How to complete the move
Once your kids know about the upcoming move and their things are packed up, you will need to use specific tools and plans to ensure a smooth transition for moving day and the week leading up to it. There are several tricks you can utilize to make your move with children go as smoothly as possible.
- Start early: Give yourself plenty of time to get things in order before the big day. Begin deep cleaning, packing, and any other preparatory steps as early as possible to ensure an easy and relaxed moving day.
- Map out a moving-week plan: Sit down with your children and plan every detail of the last week before the move. Plan out meals, create packing schedules, and decide who is riding in which car.
- Create to-do lists: Assigning your kids tasks will help you get things done and teach them about responsibility and teamwork. Include cleaning duties and a list of items that need to be packed.
- Stick to a routine: Having a set schedule will ease your children’s minds. The best way to alleviate stress for your kids is to ensure family schedules and routines are upheld throughout the moving process.
- Take advantage of kid-free time: Naptime for your children means uninterrupted packing time for you. Effectively utilize any time without children to pack, work, clean, or do anything else that requires a lot of attention.
- Color-code boxes: Keeping boxes organized is difficult, especially if you have little ones running around. Get colorful tape or stickers to mark each package for a quick and kid-proof organization technique.
- Pack overnight bags: Pack duffle bags with all the essentials for the last night in your old home and the first night in your new one.
- Toss the rubbish: Over the years, kids collect broken crayons, old school assignments, old toys, and so on. Throw out as many unnecessary items as possible to avoid bringing clutter into your new home.
- Keep your kids involved: Let your kids make a few decisions and be part of the moving process. This will help them feel in control and stable in their surroundings. Ask for their input and let them help with decisions they care a lot about.
- Keep a positive attitude: Kids are perceptive, so it’s important to keep the energy throughout your move upbeat and positive. This is important throughout the entire move, but especially when settling into your new home, when children will likely experience anxiety. Make entering your new home, picking rooms, and unpacking exciting and fun.
- Hire a babysitter: You can make a lot of progress in just a few hours without kids to look after, so consider hiring a babysitter. This is an excellent solution for younger kids who aren’t in school or when school’s out during the summer.
- Photograph your old home: Kids will likely have a difficult time saying goodbye to their old home. Compile pictures in memory books to relieve some anxiety and give your kids a tangible way to remember their old house.
- Allow plenty of time to adjust: Be patient with them and give them time to adjust to their new environment and work through their emotions.
- Befriend neighbors: The more opportunities for your kids to make new friends, the quicker they will settle in and adjust to their new home.
If you’re interested in homes for sale in Wilmington, North Carolina, The Carolinas Finest, Jessica Edwards’ team of luxury realtors can help make your family’s transition to a new home as smooth as possible. Jessica’s trusted, local expertise can help your family know what to expect and find the Carolina dream home that fits your needs — and the needs of your little
*Header Image Credit: Darren Baker/Getty Images/MYMOVE