Moving with kids is often a form of organized chaos. It’s one thing to pack up everything you own and move to a new place that you’ll call home—it’s another thing entirely to do it with kids. Kids are used to structure and organization, and they rely on routines to keep them focused and happy. Moving is the opposite of that. For many kids, the idea of moving can range from scary to exciting.
For parents, moving with kids means adopting an additional set of chores and tasks. Not only do you need to make sure you’re ready for the move—you also need to make sure your child (or children) are ready to relocate smoothly. As any parent can guess, this can be a struggle.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the best tips for relocating with kids. Follow these suggestions to make relocation simpler for them (and for you), so you can focus on getting into your new home smoothly.
Take the time to explain what’s going on
For young kids especially, the concept of moving is mind-blowing. If their current home is the only one they’ve ever known, moving to a new location can be scary. Take the time to explain what that means and answer any questions they might have. The more they know about the move and can comprehend it, the more comfortable they’ll be when the time comes to face it. Here are a few questions parents are likely to get and ones they should be prepared to answer:
- Why are we moving?
- Where is our new home going to be?
- What happens to our old home?
- Will I still be able to do X at the new house?
- What will happen to X after we move?
As mentioned, the home is a constant variable for kids. When it comes time to move, they’ll have a lot of questions that revolve around their life, and they want to make sure even though their surroundings are changing, they’ll still be able to do the things they like and go places they’re familiar with. Will I still be able to see my friends? Are my toys coming with us? Where will I go to school?
Some questions are easier than others to answer, but parents should do everything they can to reassure their children that, despite this major change, life is going to be good. It’s a great segue into our next tip.
Making moving a fun, exciting experience!
Even if you want to grit your teeth and pull your hair out over the stress of a move, put on a happy face and make it a fun, exciting experience for your kids. Kids mirror our emotions and empathize with what we’re feeling. If they see you stressed and frustrated by a move, they’re going to fee uncertain about it. If you’re smiling, they’ll be smiling.
One of the best ways to frame a move is to turn it into an adventure! The idea of moving into a new home in a new place can be scary for kids, but when framed as adventure, they’re often more willing to face their fears and charge into the unknown—especially with mom or dad by their side. Engage with them and make the entire moving process a fun experience for them. When you arrive at your new home to begin the unpacking process, you’ll likely find that your child is more eager to explore and embrace their new surroundings, instead of being intimidated by them.
Give them something to focus on
No one likes waiting around with only their thoughts to keep them company. Kids are no different. If your children are sitting idle while you feverishly pack and load boxes onto a truck, they’re going to get bored or anxious, which can result in everything from bad behavior to spiraling emotions.
The easiest way to remedy this is to give your kids something to do while the packing and loading are happening. Try to get them involved in the process without putting them in the middle of the action. For example, if they’re old enough to do chores, have them vacuum a room after it’s emptied of its boxes or wipe-down surfaces. You may need to bribe them a little to do these “chores,” but it can be worth it to stave off the trepidation of sitting idle.
Another option is to game plan ahead of time. In the age of portable electronics, many parents find that downloading a new app or getting their kids a new videogame are great ways to keep them engaged during the time boxes are being packed and trucks are being loaded. If you’re staunchly against electronics, consider getting them a book to read. The goal is to engage them in a way that keeps their mind busy and occupied, until it’s time for them to participate in the move.
Lean on family for support
For young kids who might need supervision, one of the best things parents can do is enlist the help of a friend or family member to watch young kids during the move. Sending them to stay with grandma and grandpa for a day is a stress-free solution for both parents and kids. Giving them the opportunity to sleep over at a friend’s house or attend a play date is another win-win. Consider your options for getting them away from the hustle and bustle of a move, and you’ll find that the entire process goes smoothly.
If you opt for this method, make sure your kids have an opportunity to say goodbye to their old home. This is a very important step in providing kids with closure. If they know this is the last time they’ll see these familiar surroundings, they’ll be able to close that chapter in their minds and better-embrace the new chapter of their new home.
Above all, be patient
The biggest consideration you need to make when relocating with kids is that this process is foreign to them. They don’t necessarily understand it or why it’s happening. Be patient as they work through it. As adults, we understand the concept of leaving one home behind and making a new one—for kids, this concept is brand-new. Answer their questions. Console them. Show them that this is a positive experience and do everything you can to uplift the mood. It won’t be long until they acclimate to their new home (kids are quick to adapt)—but in the meantime, do what you can to smooth out the transition for them.