Moving is stressful regardless of your family situation, but it becomes even worse when you have kids. After all, aside from planning, packing, and scheduling, you need to keep an eye on how your children are handling the change. And usually, the answer is not very well — they’ve likely grown attached to their home and neighborhood and don’t want to leave.
So, how do you help your kids overcome the anxieties they have about the move? We asked the NYC moving company Oz Moving for help, and their general manager Nancy Zafrani gave us a simple answer: involve your kids in the process. And if you’re not sure how to do that, don’t worry — you’ll find a list of helpful tips below.
1. Let Them Decide What to Keep and What to Give Away
When starting fresh at a new place, you don’t want to bring along everything you own. So, you’ll have to sort your belongings into a few piles — stuff you want to keep, items you’ll donate or give away, and things you’ll need to throw out. Your kids’ belongings are no exception, and you’ll need to go through them too and decide what to keep.
That’s a perfect opportunity to involve your children in the moving process. Let them decide which items they absolutely need to bring along and which they can leave behind. You’ll be surprised at how cooperative kids can be when given such a task. After all, they’ll feel like they have at least some degree of agency in the matter, and that will soothe their fears about the move.
You could take it a step further and ask your kids to help you with sorting your belongings. Of course, you’ll have the final say in the matter, but your children will certainly enjoy having that additional responsibility.
2. Get Them to Help You Clean
Once you’re all packed, your house will probably look quite messy. Before you leave and give it over to its new owners, you’ll want to clean the rooms up a bit and make them presentable. But you don’t have to do that alone — cleaning can be a family activity, after all!
So, give your kids their own spray bottles and rags and instruct them to clean some easily reachable surfaces. Even your toddlers can contribute — for instance, they can wipe the lowest cabinets and floors. Turn cleaning into a fun activity for the whole family, and your kids will surely be eager to participate. Afterward, you can reward their hard work with some sweets or other kinds of food they like!
3. Decorate the Moving Boxes Together
As you pack all your belongings into boxes, you’ll need to label each one appropriately. Most people simply write one or two words on each box, but if you have kids, your boxes could look much more fun. Children love drawing and decorating, so use that to keep them entertained as you deal with less exciting parts of the moving process.
It’s easy — give your kids colorful markers and stickers and let them do the rest. They’re sure to be full of fun ideas, so they might not need your help at all. But if you do have some extra time to help, feel free to join them. They’ll surely appreciate your input and love working with you on this little side project.
4. Let Them Decide What Their New Bedroom Should Look Like
Leaving behind their old home, neighborhood, and friends is sure to make your kids quite sad. In such a case, you may try to cheer them up by telling them about all the fun they’ll have at their new place. And while that may work to an extent, it’s always better to find something specific for them to look forward to.
Well, there’s hardly anything that could get them quite as excited as their new bedroom. Use that to your advantage and allow your kids absolute freedom in deciding what it should look like. Ask them to choose the colors of walls and furniture, as well as pick out the decorations. That will keep them busy for a while, allowing you to pack and prepare in peace.
But remember — you have to keep the promise and actually decorate their room according to their wishes. Otherwise, they’ll feel that you lied to them, and that won’t be a good start to your life at a new house.
5. Involve Them in the Unpacking Process
Once you finally arrive at your new home, you’ll have to unpack all the stuff you brought. Just like when you were packing, your kids can help you with unpacking too. And to make it even more fun, you can turn the whole process into a game.
For instance, have an unpacking competition with fun little rewards at the end or hide little trinkets in their boxes and get them to find them. Whatever game you come up with, your kids will surely enjoy it, so be creative!
Moving with kids is never easy, but it should be at least a little less painful with these few tips. Whenever you can, try to keep them busy and involve them in the process as much as possible. That way, they’ll feel they still have some degree of agency, so they won’t be as afraid.
Also, focus on the positives — for instance, what your new house will look like, the friends they’ll make, the activities in the new neighborhood. The more you do, the better and the less scary the experience will be for them.