Moving with Small Kids
Moving your family to a new house is no easy task, especially if you are moving to a different city, state or even abroad. We recently experienced moving our family for the second time within five years and are sharing from our experience in hopes of helping others with any upcoming moves their family may face.
First, have a family meeting to talk to your children about the move. Explain as much as possible for their understanding level. Continue to positively talk about the move as it draws near. Our children were all 5 and younger so they didn’t comprehend too much, and our days went on as normal until the moving date got closer.
Books have always been a great tool for our family to explain and understand new concepts. We read Boomer’s Big Day by Constance W. McGeorge and Mary Whyte, as well as The Bernstain Bear’s Moving Day by Stan Bernstain. They both were excellent choices that illustrated what the moving process would be like. Discuss previous moving experiences or moving during your own childhood and share how you felt. It’s important to validate any feelings your children may have, such as sadness, anger or loneliness, but then try to spin it in a positive light. Jessica Fraser, Overland Park mother of two, says, “There is a Sesame Street moving app that we had Owen use, and it was great. We talked about our new city and all of the things that would be the same and that would be different. I also acknowledged their feelings when they told me they were worried or missed someone and told them that I felt that way sometimes too. I also worked to make sure that they would have some consistent things in the new city, like Owen continued with Cubbies, and we all continued with BSF after the move.”
As for the actual listing and showing of a house you are attempting to sell, take offers of any help from family and friends to watch your children so you can get the house ready. Then declutter as much as possible, sell unwanted items if time and sanity permit or donate excess to a donation center such as Mission Southside. Otherwise, rent a storage unit of some kind to stash it away while you show your house.
We actually left for the weekend that our house first listed. The house stayed presentable, and the realtor was able to do two open houses and have as many showings as possible that first weekend. If you do have to show the house while living there, try to pick up the house each night. Also keep a laundry basket handy to throw daily life evidence, such as papers, dirty dishes, laundry, etc., that you can just throw in the car with you when you need to leave. Keep handy a list of places you can go, such as the library, the Johnson County Museum or friends’ houses, to keep your kids occupied for a showing. It’s also wise to pack some snacks, baby food, water and other essentials in the car in case you will be missing a meal while out.
House hunting with little ones can get old quickly. Fortunately, we had my mother-in-law stay with our older two children while we took our baby with us on our house hunt. I am so grateful we just had the baby, but even that grew tiresome after lugging him in and out of nearly 20 houses in his car seat and trying to push through feeding and nap schedules.
With the actual packing up of your house, again, take up any offers of help in any form. Your kids will have more fun being at a friend’s house to play while you have some uninterrupted time to pack up a room or two. Or pay a babysitter to watch your kids at your house while you tackle a room. Utilize naptimes and bedtimes and, if you can afford it at all, consider hiring a moving company in some manner. We were fortunate to have a relocation situation where we had a moving company come and pack up everything. Even then, actual moving week was stressful with three little ones and a moving crew that worked through naptime and bedtime. I kept naptimes consistent until beds were packed and then wore my baby in my Ergo carrier for his afternoon nap. Utilizing the car for naps helps too. Because my husband could work from the house while the moving company packed up, I took our boys out to stay clear of the hustle and bustle.
Plan ahead, make those to-do lists and keep them handy. Make sure you have a designated area for things you will be taking with you and not putting on the moving truck, such as clothing for all family members, toiletries (even toilet paper and towels), medications, children’s cups/bottles if needed, snacks including coolers needed for frozen breastmilk, cleaning supplies, pet supplies and baby gear. You’ll need a meal plan and budget for dining out when your kitchen is packed and you’ll want to keep some granola bars and fruit for easy and affordable breakfasts. Because of moving out of state and closing dates on either end, we ended up staying in a hotel for a couple nights with our three children and our dog. Figuring out a place to stay and for how long is something else to consider and budget.
When you have arrived in your new house, utilize any friends to keep your kids while you get unloaded. We moved further away from everyone, so it was up to us to keep our children entertained. Having cable and internet ready is helpful; otherwise, put those toys and electronics to good use. If you can, let your kids pick out a new toy to have for the first couple days of unpacking. Life will be hectic and out of sorts for a couple of weeks, but plan some outings for your family to have a break from the boxes.
Because I’m a stay-at-home-mom, our daily routine didn’t alter too greatly. We were just going to be in a different location. We often referred to moving as a family adventure. Once we knew where we were headed, I was quick to look up new family attractions to look forward to visiting. “Liking” new places like this on Facebook led me to more attractions as well.
In the end, moving is going to be hard because change is hard. But we all learn how to adapt, and life keeps moving on. Thank goodness for social media and spring breaks to keep in touch!
Stephanie Loux is the mother of three and knows a thing or two about moving with her family.