101 Family Moving Tips
Moving might not be fun, but these 101 moving tips can make it easier.
Moving day: Two simple words that cause panic and anxiety in even the calmest of parents. Even if you have gallivanted across the country in true nomadic style, moving with kids is a whole new ballgame. You know what to do but sure could use some moving tips to make the process smoother.
About a third of kids have cried during the moving process, according to a 2015 survey from Care.com. But it doesn't have to be that way.
"More than 13 million children move each year, and all of them survive the move, whether or not their parents take special steps to ease the transition," says Lori Collins Burgan, author of "Moving with Kids," and mom of three who moved five times in seven years. "But we don't want our kids just to survive...we want them to thrive. Empower your children to make as many decisions as possible. This will help them feel they have regained some control over a situation in which they at first felt powerless," she recommends.
Once the decision to move has been revealed to the kids, be sure to keep a positive attitude, even if you have your own reservations. "Whether you feel sad or happy about moving, try to make it sound like the best thing when you talk about it with the kids," suggests Anne Violette, founder of FunMomBlog, author of the upcoming "Smooth Moving" and mom of three who survived moving six times with young kids. "They pick up on negative vibes very easily, so talk about it like it is just one big adventure to ease anxiety."
Here are 101 moving tips to make the whole process a little easier for your whole family.
For more advice on moving, check out Care.com/moving.
Searching for a New Home
- Get a knowledgeable real estate agent -- one who really listens to you.
- Trust to your gut if something about the house or neighborhood seems off.
- If you know someone near the area you're moving to, ask them to go look at a place with you.
- "Start looking for a place to live at least 6 months in advance," advises Violette.
- Research schools, day cares, nannies and neighborhoods in your new city ahead of time to narrow down areas you like.
- Consider proximity to public transportation if your family will be using it a lot.
- If you're able, spend time at local hangouts and playgrounds in your new neighborhood to get your kids excited.
- "Think about what will make your day-to-day life easier," suggests Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer of Zillow. "Do you want laundry on the same floor as the bedrooms or near the kitchen? Do you want a big backyard, or will that be too much work for you to maintain?"
- Look at properties online, even if you're working with a real estate agent.
- Ask for your kids' input -- if they want their own bedrooms or a bigger backyard, see if that's possible.
- "Don't assume that a close-by school is the assigned school for the house you are purchasing. School district lines can cut into neighborhoods in strange ways. Check that out before you purchase," suggests Burgan.
- When searching for a new neighborhood, check the national sex offender list to be aware of offenders in the area.
- Check out school ratings if you have more than one option.
- Compare the cost of living between your current and future location, keeping your budgetary restraints in mind.
- Avoid moving in cold winter months or in the middle of the academic school year, if possible.
- Don't discuss negative factors in front of the kids, especially if the move is not your choice.
- Make sure you are the one to tell your kids about the move.
- When the new home is official, have your kids draw a floor plan of their new rooms to get them excited.
Packing and Moving Your Family
- Start packing a few weeks ahead of time by putting little-used items in boxes in the garage.
- Go through everything and eliminate things you no longer need or want.
- Include money in your moving budget for the unexpected, such as a flat tire on the road.
- "Get copies of all important documents," suggests Violette, including children's immunization records.
- Search for free boxes on Craigslist.
- Call your local big box stores to see if you can pick up their empty boxes.
- Pack up your children's rooms last and unpack their rooms first.
- Have fun stickers, markers and cool tape on hand to let your kids decorate their moving boxes.
- Take breaks while packing, and stay well-fed, hydrated and get enough sleep.
- Make the actual moving trip fun for your children -- plan small adventures like a half-day at the water park to break up long car rides.
- Do not pack your child's special blanket or toy.
- Don't be afraid to hire a babysitter so you can pack uninterrupted.
- Have a small supply of paper plates and plastic utensils for a few days so you can pack your dishes entirely.
- Pack most of your children's toys when they are not there, to avoid tantrums.
- Don't wait until the last minute to sell the furniture you don't want or can't bring.
- "Do a little organizing every day for at least a month or two before moving, even if you only have a half hour. This is a good chance for some 'life cleaning', so you can toss old paperwork, receipts and other pack-rat sort of things you will never look at again," says Violette.
- Travel with a cooler filled with water, sandwiches and healthy snack foods.
- Get two debit cards in case one gets lost.
- Ask friends and family for help.
- Keep a few rolls of quarters in your car for tolls, but remember if you are riding in a moving truck or hauling a trailer, tolls will cost more.
- Haul your car on a tow dolly to save money on gas.
- Keep your receipts if your move is tax deductible as a business expense.
- If moving for work, be sure to ask your employer about the possibility of relocation reimbursements.
- Throw yourselves a farewell party, and let your kids invite their friends and teachers.
- Have a moving sale to unload items that don't make the cut.
- Plan your travel route in advance and prebook your hotel rooms.
- Let your child pack her own special bag to keep in the car with her, full of comfort items needed for bedtime and books for the car.
- Document the entire move in photos.
- Make a countdown until moving day to build anticipation and excitement.
- Keep a play pen set up so your baby is safely contained.
- Have your laptop or portable DVD player and some favorite movies handy to keep kids occupied while you are busy.
- Give yourself more time than you think you need for packing.
- If driving the truck yourself, leave early to maximize daylight hours and get a full day of driving in. You don't want to deal with a flat tire after dark.
- Tag-team: Have Mom pack while Dad takes the kids to the park and switch the next day.
- When parking a moving truck, choose an area you can drive straight through to turn around so you don't have to back up the truck.
- Separate your pets from your kids on a long car ride.
- Keep pets safely closed in a bathroom with food, water and bedding on moving day. Clearly mark "Do not open, pets inside" on the door.
- Pack extremely fragile items and sentimental keepsakes safely in the car with you.
- Place strips of bright tape on the sides of boxes with necessities so you can find what needs to be unpacked first.
- Label boxes by room instead of by items to prevent endlessly shuffling boxes around the new place.
- Keep some cleaning supplies out and do a final house cleaning after it is empty. Or hire a housekeeper to tackle this for you.
- Pack an overnight bag with some clothes, toiletries and essentials to have the first few days after the move.
- Have some fun car games at the ready to make the trip easier. (Here are 53 car games for inspiration.)
- Let kids pack towels, bedding and other non-breakables to give them a sense of contribution.
- Change your address early for all bills, magazine subscriptions and bank statements.
- Check that your current bank has a branch in your new location.
- Arrange a clear end date for your cable, phone and utilities so there is no overage when the new tenants move in.
- Have a pizza party or picnic on the floor the night before the move.
- Take lots of pictures of the kids in their old room or other special places in the house.
- Make time to say good-bye to the house and do a final walk-through.
Settling Into Your New Place
- Model a positive attitude at all times (or at least most of the time!).
- Support your child as they mourn the loss of their friends and loved ones they are leaving behind.
- Plan a trip back to your old town a few weeks or months after you leave, so your kids can visit their old friends.
- Look up fun attractions in your new city and visit them as a family as soon as possible after the move.
- "Take proactive and deliberate steps to ease your child's transition," says Burgan. Now's a great time for his favorite meal or movie.
- Make sure your pets are wearing a collar with updated contact info on the tag.
- Have a family camp-out in the living room the first night in your new house.
- Stay relaxed about moving -- your kids will feed off your stress.
- Give the kids a small housewarming gift, such as something special for their new room.
- Talk about the move like it will be a big, fun adventure.
- Answer every question your child has to help quell anxiety.
- Give your kids their own address books to collect old and new friends' contact information.
- Encourage your kids to write letters or emails to keep in touch with their friends.
- Get back into your typical routine as quickly as possible once you have made the move.
- Make sure you pack all chargers and electronic cords in a backpack you will have easy access to.
- Have empathy for your kids and remember that this is a big change.
- Talk with your kids at length about any major changes to their routine the move will cause.
- If you know you will be doing a large house project right away, such as replacing carpet, do it before moving.
- Make decorating your child's room a priority and let him have a say in the dcor.
- Give the kids empty boxes and markers to create a "box city" while you're unpacking.
- Talk to your kids about how to make new friends.
- Arrange a tour of the new school so your child can find her classroom and meet her teacher. Follow these 8 Tips for Being the New Kid at School.
- If moving across town, give yourself some time between closing on the house and moving day. Shampoo carpets and do a good clean before you have boxes there.
- Take breaks while unpacking to get out of the house with the kids.
- On moving day, have the kids write themselves a postcard and send it to the new house. It will be fun to get a piece of mail right away and see how long it takes to get there.
- Involve your kids in unpacking and organizing their bedroom so they know where everything is.
- Read books about moving to help younger kids understand.
- While unpacking, let your kids entertain themselves with packing supplies -- bubble wrap, anyone?
- Sign your kids up for a class or club in the new city to help them make friends.
- Find local BigTent parenting groups in your new area, to help you meet other families and learn the ins and outs of the neighborhood.
- Go for scavenger hunts around the new neighborhood to make checking it out more fun. Start with these 8 Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids.
- Have your kids draw a map of the neighborhood, including where all the fun places are.
- Don't wait for your neighbors to come introduce themselves -- pop over to say hi!
And remember, you don't have to do it all. Find packers and moving help on Care.com.
Victoria Georgoff is a freelance writer and psychotherapist who enjoys writing about parenting, helping other parents and, of course, being a parent herself. Follow her on Twitter.