In ten years of parenting, I have moved seven times with kids. Even just writing that sentence makes me tired. I thought for a long time we were just nomads, but I realized it was really a kind of family strategy. No one place or space defined family for us. We are a family wherever we go; every move called and reminded us to stay close to each other and not our surroundings or things. It felt like we were on a new adventure together whenever things started to get stale.
Luckily, our kids are pretty laid back and never seemed too bothered by the change. It helped that we managed to stay in the same city for all the moves except one. This last move, however, was pretty brutal. I kept a running list in my head of all the tips that would have made things easier.
So here you are, from the moving mother:
1. Spread out the move out over a couple days. Moving an entire house in one day makes for very exhausted and grumpy parents. It is more work than anyone should do. If you are moving locally, see if you can get into your new house just a few days early, it is worth every penny. Moving room by room is one thousand times better than trying to sort out a sea of boxes. It makes for an easier transition for the littlest members of your family, too.
2. Hire multiple babysitters or enlist family and friends to help. Hype up a play date extravaganza week for the kids. Pick their most favorite people and friends to watch them for short or long stretches depending on their ages. Trying to do anything on a timed schedule with kids around is near impossible and having kids gone will let you go at lightning speed. Also enlist helpers for after the move, which will be a life saver when you really need to get settled and make your space finally feel like home.
3. Honor your old home and welcome the new house. We left a pile of boxes one day to take a break and go pick berries for our old and new neighbors. We made a list of all the things we will miss in the old and all the things we want to do in the new. We wrote thank you notes to our old neighbor who was always so kind to our kids.
If you are moving far away you may want to self address envelopes and hand out to your kids' most important people and friends to send them a letter during the first few weeks when everyone may start to feel homesick.
4. Make a check list and give everyone a job. Most small children worry about if all the things they care about will make it during a move. Make a check list with your kids listing the things most important to them. Pack the "special box" together and take it in your car if at all possible. Pretend like you are going on vacation; pack a bag of snacks and loot to pull out in difficult moments or to buy some needed busy time.
Give kids simple jobs to keep them feeling connected and part of the decision to move. Call family meetings to check-in with each member about how things are going and what everyone might need throughout the move.
5. Don't wait to make connections. Find local list serves, co-ops and other neighborhood connections that might make your transition and introduction to your new place smoother. Introduce yourself on the block or floor as soon as you can, knowing your neighbors is the best way to get the lay of the land.
6. Invite some art into the process. Big brown boxes might be the most popular toy of all time. Buy a pack of markers and let the kids go to town coloring and making their own playhouse out of discarded boxes, or even create a box city in the back yard. Hours of fun, I promise!
Are you a mover, too? Tell us your best moving tips in the comments.