Moving is tough enough. Moving with kids? Even more challenging. You want to make sure their needs are met while packing, moving and unpacking.
Most of us move 11 or more times during our lives, but even so, the process can still be a stressful one. Here are our suggestions for having a successful move with children of all ages.
Infants aren’t going to have much of a sense of the move. They will simply need the closeness of their parents and to have their needs for attention, affection, feeding, diaper changing, and so on met.
Make sure you have the right sort of car seat for your infant and do not leave them in the car alone. Someone should always be taking care of the baby on the road, at a rest stop, in your hotel rooms, and at each home.
Toddler to Age 6
It will be difficult for young children to understand a move. One way to explain it to them is with a story. Tell them, in story format, about how you, they, and the rest of your family are going to pack your things, put them in a truck and the car or cars, and drive to a new place, or how some movers are going to come over and pack your things, and how you’re all going to get on an airplane and fly to your new home. This is one way to make the move seem fun, which can help lower their stress.
If possible, try to avoid moving during important transitional times, such as potty training.
Ages 6 to 13
Once kids understand what’s going on, change is tough. You’ll feel stressed when moving, but they may feel stress more acutely. They’re not used to leaving friends behind, having a new bedroom, and having to get used to an entirely new school.
Talk to them about the move and give them time to get used to the idea that they’ll live somewhere new. Let them know the benefits. For example, maybe you’ll have a bigger home with a large yard for them to play in. Maybe you’re moving to a place where they can go to the beach, or there will be a great theme park nearby.
If the house is within an hour away, drive the kids there before the move and show them where they’ll live. Most kids will start to imagine themselves there and may get excited. If the home is farther away, take advantage of Google Maps and zoom in to Street View. You can show them on the computer what the house and neighborhood look like and even virtually drive around the area. You can also research the city online and find fun things to do as a family.
Teens can take on more responsibility during a move, but they may also be more rebellious, especially if they have good friends and are happy with their lives where you currently live.
Allow your teens to help plan when possible. This may be something as simple as where to stop and eat one day, or how to arrange the kitchen.
If your teen has a big event coming up they’ve been looking forward to, such as high school graduation, you may want to find a way for them to stay in your old town until that event has passed.
Tips for Travel
While traveling, make sure your kids have things to do. Tablets and smartphones will allow them to listen to their own music and play their own games while on the road. If your vehicle has a DVD player and screen for the back seats, they can watch movies. Bring snacks along, and make sure everyone uses a restroom at every stop, or you’ll end up stopping for potty breaks more often than you’d like.
At Your New Home
It’s important to make sure your kids feel at home as soon as possible. This is especially true of younger kids, but can be true of teens as well. After unloading the truck, make setting up your child’s room a priority.
Let your teens unpack their own rooms before they help with the rest of the house. Help your younger kids unpack, and do the unpacking for your toddlers. Consider arranging their new bedrooms similarly to how they were arranged at your old place, to give a sense of familiarity.
Once their rooms are unpacked and arranged, let them help with the rest of the house and let them know you’d like to hear their suggestions.
Later, explore the neighborhood together and introduce yourselves to neighbors. Your kids may start making friends then and there. Find out where the parks are, where the restaurants you’ll all enjoy are, and check out their new schools with them.
We hope these ideas help you and your kids have a smooth move, and that they, and you, will enjoy your new home.