Moving with kids can be tough. Beyond the psychological resistance to moving that they may display—being reluctant to leave cherished friends and familiar surroundings for scary new experiences—there are practical concerns as well, such as how best to involve kids in the moving process or keep them entertained during a long car or plane ride. Knowing what to do with the kids at all times can be tough, but many other people have lived through it and emerged with ideas about how best to handle the process. Read on for suggestions on how to keep yourself sane and the kids busy while you’re moving.
“Hire” your kids for special positions
Getting kids involved in the moving process can be easier if you give seemingly boring tasks a special name. Assign each child a special job or two, complete with a creative badge, hat, or even cape. The exciting accessories will make it more fun to do duties that might otherwise seem boring. Keep in mind that this approach may work best for younger children; older kids can be made supervisors and put in charge of ensuring that the youngsters do the jobs they’ve been assigned. Whether your kid is in charge of making labels for boxes, packing toys, or deciding which of their articles of clothing get moved and which don’t, the experience will be a more positive one for everyone if the kids are kept busy with helpful activities. Kids can also be enthusiastic and innovative garages-sale helpers; consider enlisting their aid in labeling and sorting items if you’ve decided to have a sale.
Pack a moving bag with important items
Whether it’s a certain teddy bear or a security blanket, most young kids have a special item they need in order to feel comfortable. You don’t want that item to get lost in the shuffle when moving, so make sure to set it aside in a group of items that should remain readily accessible to your children. Beyond security items, each kid should have a few changes of clothes and some toiletries packed to ensure they’re prepared to spend some nights on the road (if applicable) and/or a few days in the new house before all items are unpacked and easily located. Note that it may be tempting to get rid of old toys, clothing, or other kids’ items during a move, but doing so may be too difficult for your child at an already traumatic time. Even if it means moving an extra box or two, taking certain items along can help ease the transition. And try not to get rid of your child’s possessions during a move without asking—the aftermath will probably be more than you want to deal with.
Keep ‘em entertained
Whether you’re driving or flying, DVDs, video games, music, and other media can be crucial to keeping your kids entertained on the trip. Be careful not to pack away the Game Boy or portable DVD player, and remind your kids to keep their iPods or other music players where they’re easily accessible. Just as important as packing the players is packing the items to play—you don’t want to start your cross-country trip only to discover that your four-year-old is the only one who remembered to bring a DVD: Monsters, Inc. may have been entertaining, but twenty hours of it will get on anyone’s nerves (except the four-year-old’s…). Books and magazines are also great ways to stay busy during a long trip. Consider letting each child pick out a new book, magazine, CD, video game, or DVD to keep him or her entertained during the trip. This will help avoid boredom and give yet another incentive to be excited about the move.
Record the adventure
Some kids may be excited about the idea of making a scrapbook of the move. Recording visits to the new town, pasting in pictures of the packing and unpacking processes, and documenting the trip to the new location can help make the move seem more like an adventure or an opportunity and less like something scary. Collecting menus from restaurants where you stop along the way or picking up brochures from landmarks you visit can also help keep the kids entertained and give them something to work on in the car. This project can also incorporate memories of your old home, town, and friends, and help convince kids that they won’t forget where they came from.
All things considered, kids need to feel just as prepared for and involved in the move as adults. Having their own moving tasks can help achieve this end, as can making sure their own special items are packed. The crucial component of a successful move is communication with all parties involved—including the kids. Once you have this down, your transition will go smoothly!