Preparing for a move with toddlers can be a very stressful and aggravating time. You have a lot of work to do and they’re not big fans of being stuck in the house packing boxes all day. As much as I would love to tell you that I’ve discovered a magic formula for making this process fun for everyone (pffft!), I can’t. But I have discovered a few ways that will make it a little easier on you and the kids so that everyone walks away with their sanity…or most of it, anyway.
Broach the subject early and often. As soon as you’ve made the decision to move, start talking to your kids about the idea. Talk to them about your new town and get them excited about searching for new houses. Once you’ve chosen a new house, show them pictures of how it looks, especially their bedroom, and start telling them when the big move will be. We’ve been preparing our daughter by talking about her new room in our new house. She seems very excited and asks every day if it’s time to move to our new house yet.
Let them help clear the clutter. I find it’s very difficult to purge the kids things when they’re awake. And when they’re asleep, I can’t get to their things without fear of waking them. So I’ve had to get creative and tell my kids that we need to pick out the toys and clothes that they no longer love and give them to boys and girls who don’t have as many clothes and toys. This has seemed to work well for us. My daughter seems to have a very generous heart and will thoughtfully go through her toys to find the things she thinks other boys and girls will like. It’s very sweet to see her want to give and it helps me clear out things she no longer finds fun to play with!
Give them permission to decorate the boxes. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be able to pack everything when the kids are in bed. You won’t have the energy and there are probably other things you need to take care of once they’re down for the night. So you’re going to have to find a way to pack a bit during the day and keep them from burning the house down while you’re doing it. One way I’ve found to get this done is by giving my kids a handful of washable markers and let them go to town on the boxes. They think it’s the best thing ever because they get to draw on something other than paper and I get at least 20-30 minutes of happy toddlers that let me pack.
Don’t pack their favorite things until the last minute. Change is difficult for everyone, but for kids it can be especially hard. They don’t necessarily understand the reasons for having to move to a new house, so minimizing the impact of a move is important. Keeping their favorite, most played-with things out until the bitter end is key in keeping things “normal” for them while you’re preparing to move. The world around them is changing by the minute and many things may become unfamiliar, so to have their cherished possessions around them will give them some comfort and a sense of normalcy.
Help them to say goodbye to friends and neighbors. Even if your kids are very young, they will have a difficult time saying goodbye to their little friends. My daughter was only three when one of her closest playmates moved away and it took her a very long time to understand that her friend was no longer around to play with her. In that circumstance, when she would ask about her friend, I would explain the situation to her and encourage her to “write” her friend a letter or send her a small gift. I could see that this helped her process that her friend lived somewhere else now. Since we are the ones that are moving away this time, I will be encouraging my kids to “write” letters, color pictures, make cards, etc., for their friends and teachers that they will miss. I think it will help them to understand that we will be living far away from them but that doesn’t mean we’ll lose touch.
Stick to their routine. Routine is so very important to small children, even without a move looming. Sticking to normal routines: meal times, bath time, bed time, etc., will help them feel safe and secure even though many other things are changing around them. No matter how busy we are, we always make dinner time, bath time and bed time priorities in our house because it give us all a sense of family, normalcy and security.
Let them help plan the design for their new room. This one has been very challenging for me! When my daughter learned that she would get a new room in our new house, she immediately asked that it be pink. PINK. I don’t know why I thought I could get away with decorating her room MY way for the rest of my life, but I guess I did. A pink room is not exactly my favorite idea. But, she’s only going to be little for a little while and I get to do everything else in the house my way, so I’ve had to let go of my control over this a little and give her what she seems to so desperately want. Granted, I am going to create the most tasteful pink room I can possibly manage, but at least she’ll get a say in her room. And it makes her excited about her new room!
Give them a special tour of their new town. Once you’ve gotten settled, or if you’re in the area before the official move, give your kids a little tour of what will be their new home town. Show them where they’ll go to the park, to school, where you will go get groceries. Help them to familiarize themselves with their new town so it won’t feel so foreign when you finally arrive.
Stay organized with a moving binder. All of these tips won’t do you much good if you don’t get yourself organized from the get go. I mentioned in my last moving post that I use a moving binder to stay organized during a move. Well, I thought I’d share my binder pages with you to help you get organized and stay sane on your next moving adventure! Sign up below to access the zip file of free moving printables. Just print them out and stick them in a three ring binder and you’ll be good to go!
What are your best tips for preparing for a move with kids?