Nobody likes moving. It’s stressful, packing tends to take longer because you have to sort through all the things and you tend to want to reflect over each item, not to mention having to actually lift all those boxes, move them to your new home, and unpack them again. Even more stressful is trying to move with a baby or young children. We’ve compiled some moving tips and tricks below to help you and your little ones have as stress-free of a move as possible.
Packing with babies
Moving with babies can be somewhat tricky. It’s hard to pack if you have a baby to care for, and even harder come moving day. Enlist the help of a family member, friend, or sitter to watch the baby while you pack. It’s important not to alter your baby’s schedule in the weeks leading up to the move as a change in routine can be stressful and the move will be change enough. On moving day, again reach out to someone who can watch the baby while you ensure all of your belongings are safely loaded onto the moving van and you prepare for a smooth move.
For short moves, pack a bag for your baby as you would for a day outing. For longer moves, be sure to pack extra diapers, clothing, food or formulas—enough for the journey and a day or two extra. When it comes to moving with a baby, your main concern is having someone watch your baby while you pack and move.
Moving tips with toddlers
It’s a bit harder to move with a toddler—or two—than it is with a baby. Again, enlisting the help of a friend, family member, or familiar sitter is helpful when packing and on moving day. You also don’t want to interrupt your child’s schedule too much, so try to stay as consistent as possible until moving day. If your child is old enough to understand what’s happening, don’t bring up the idea of moving until things are set in stone. Once your child can learn about where you’re moving to, it will be less stress on them than a vague concept. If possible, take your child to where you will be moving. Let them see the neighbourhood and their new bedroom.
Packing with toddlers can be a bit harder; be sure to tape boxes up right away and move them out of their rooms to avoid having them unpack the box as soon as your back is turned. You can try to involve your toddler in the packing process by letting them pack a few boxes of their own—you might have to repack them later, but at least your child will feel like they have some control in the process. On moving day, enlist the help of someone to watch your toddler to avoid having them underfoot. Pack a bag of activities and snacks for them to have on the drive just as you would for any short day trip.
For longer moves, pack the same activity and snack bag, but also pack an extra bag of clothing, any usual night-time items they need (stuffed toys, blankets, etc) and, if they’re potty training, don’t forget the portable potty so there are no regressions during the move. Be sure to have the things that will help make them feel comfortable in a new home in an easy to find, well-labelled box so that it can be unpacked first when you arrive at your new place.
Moving with young children
When moving with school-age children under the age of 11, things can get a bit complicated. They may be old enough to entertain themselves while you pack, and they may be able to pack most of their own room, but they’ll do it as slowly and inefficiently as possible. Helping child cope with moving is an important part of the job. Moving to a new home across town, in a different city, or in a different country can feel like the worst thing in the world to a young child. They don’t want to leave their friends or the familiar comforts of home, and they definitely do not want to have to change schools.
Try to make it easier on them by being as understanding as possible, and giving them as much information about their new home as they need to feel comfortable. With multiple children, let them choose their own bedrooms, and allocate some money for them to decorate it how they choose. If possible, let them see the house and neighbourhood in advance. For some undisturbed packing time, arrange for play dates with their friends, thus enabling them to spend more time with the friends they’re about to move away from, and giving you the opportunity to purge the house of anything you don’t want to move with you but may cause some tantrums (grade school art projects, for example).
Allow your children some control in packing their own boxes, and packing a duffle bag to take in your vehicle with all the things they’ll need during the move and first few days in your new home. Be sure to carefully label their boxes with their names and a few words about what’s inside the box to make unpacking in the new house a breeze.
Telling your older children that you’re moving
When moving with pre-teens, “tweenagers” and teenagers, things should go more smoothly. At least, when it comes to packing and unpacking their own things. At this point they’re capable of preparing their own bag of things they’ll need for the journey, and better able to understand the fact that you’re moving, but that doesn’t mean they’ll like it.
Changing schools, neighbourhoods, and potentially having to make new friends is every pre-teen and teenager’s nightmare. Try to be extra patient and understanding, prepare for some tears and bad attitudes, and really stress the benefits of the new home/city/country that you’re moving to. You may have to make a few deals with them too, but ultimately moving with older children should be less stressful and easier on you than with younger children or babies.
Kids are quick learners and want to be valued and respected to engaging them in the process, even if it’s not what they want usually works better than cutting them out. Either way, impress on them that moving is a serious business and that it is not the time for kidding around!