Moving can be both exciting and scary for kids. It is important for them to feel empowered during the move. However, it is also a great time to weed through their belongings and find items that they have outgrown. Here are some tips for moving with kids of all ages:
Babies and toddlers need a schedule and familiar surroundings. Make sure their clothing, diapers, swings, toys, bed, etc are some of the last things to pack at the old house and the first things to unpack at the new house.
Preschool and kindergarten kids can get scared easily and also may have a difficult time if things aren’t going according to plan. Make sure you have familiar items on hand for them, have some new and exciting activities they can focus on during the move (such as a special coloring book, puzzle, game, or a new movie), and let them make some choices that allow them to feel more in-control. For example, allowing them to choose a new comforter cover or shower curtain for their bathroom can go a long way. Also, allow them to build a fort with the boxes as they are getting unpacked.
Primary and elementary school-aged kids can do some of the packing on their own and can start going through their belongings to determine what they have outgrown. However, they will need some guidelines. Giving them instructions such as, “Go through all your pants and put anything with an S on the tag in this pile and put all the other pants in this pile,” will help you get the results you want. You can also help them easily go through their toys by asking them to choose the top 15-20 items they want to keep. You may be surprised to learn their priorities.
Middle school kids still will probably need some help deciding what is important to keep and toss. But allow them to pack and label their boxes themselves. They can even make choices about what to keep, what to throw away (broken items) and what to give to other kids in need.
High school kids need to feel as much in control as possible. That means packing their stuff the way they want it, deciding what to keep, toss, or give away. They should also have some control over what they want their room to look like in terms of décor and function at the other end. However, provide them with a timeline and help them break that big project into smaller projects with deadlines. Know that moving with teenagers is difficult and you will need to set clear expectations.
Here are a few good tips to remember no matter what age the kids are:
- If you can, show the kids their new home and room prior to moving. In person is great, but videos and photos are good too if they can’t see the home live.
- Also include a visit, either live or virtually, to their new school, local parks, new hangouts, etc so they get excited about where they are moving to.
- Encourage connection with old neighbors and friends either through letters or social media (you can use your account to show your kids what their neighbors are up to if they are too young for their own accounts).
- Make a scrapbook or photo book of their old home and neighborhood.
- Throw a going away party. Allow their friends to sign the scrapbook.
- Get your kids involved in the sports, groups, and activities they were involved with before. This familiarity with an old activity but with new people is a great way to build confidence.
- Involve new friends in outings so your kids connect.
- Depending on the age, allow them to do some investigation online for things like restaurants, parks, and activities they want to check out when they arrive.
- Make the first night fun! Let them sleep in the box fort, give them special new pjs or a new book, even make hot chocolate and have a great and memorable first night.