After months of searching, you’ve finally found your dream house. The local school is perfect, the community is beautiful and the location couldn’t be better. Now, all you have to do is move. While you may consider the moving process to be relatively straightforward, packing up all of your belongings and hauling them across the country — or even across the street — can be an emotional ordeal, especially for your kids.
While you may find it easy to go through your stuff, packing up the playroom and your kids’ rooms may be more difficult. How will you know what to keep? Will your child lose their temper if you pack their favorite blanket right now?
As you put things in boxes, these tips will help you successfully navigate your packing predicaments and complete the move with minimal tears and tantrums.
1. Let Your Kiddos Help
Whether your kids are teenagers or toddlers, moving can have a stressful impact on them. Depending on how old they are, they may experience anger, excitement, confusion and sadness before, during and after your move. This wide range of emotions can influence their personality and behaviors as they grow, eventually determining who they’ll be as adults.
A 2016 study of Danish children shows a correlation between moving during childhood and negative psychological changes. After following more than 1 million people for 20 years, researchers found that suicide attempts, criminality, drug abuse and unnatural mortality were more prevalent in adults who had made a residential move as kids. This discovery held true even after controlling for parents’ income and psychiatric history.
To minimize the risk of negative psychological effects, it’s best to let your kids participate in the packing and moving process. Of course, involving them in the sorting, labeling and general mess of moving may require more time, patience and effort. However, packing their own belongings can give them a sense of security and control when their world seems to be turning upside down.
2. Get Fun Packing Supplies
Whether your kids are excited or nervous about the move, packing will likely feel like a chore. Where’s the fun in putting all your stuff in cardboard boxes, anyway? To your little ones, it might simply feel like putting toys away. However, you can make this important step more enjoyable and less like a chore.
Turn packing into a creative activity by purchasing colorful boxes, stickers, labels, wrapping paper, markers and packing tape. Better yet, take your children to the office supply store and let them pick out their packing materials. Then, encourage them to decorate their boxes and personalize their inventory list. This simple strategy will make moving feel more like a creative adventure than a tedious, never-ending task.
3. Keep, Toss, Donate
Before your little ones start tossing toys into boxes, help them declutter. Kids tend to collect all sorts of odds and ends through the years, many of which they quickly forget or grow out of. In other words, you don’t have to transport every pinecone, stuffed animal and lego set to your new home, especially if your kids don’t play with them anymore.
Start decluttering by separating their toys into keep, toss and donate piles. Give them some guidelines to help them choose a pile for each item. If you decide to sell some items in a garage sale, promising to give them some of the profits can be a good motivator to get rid of old toys. Otherwise, they can donate their belongings to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Community Aid or a similar donation center.
4. Create an Essentials Box
Every family member should also pack an essentials box with anything they might need for their first night in your new home. Doing so will prevent you from rummaging through boxes when all you want to do is go to sleep. Of course, toothbrushes, pajamas, prescriptions, toiletries and other basic items are a must. However, your child might have a hard time figuring out what else is essential.
Sit down with your little one and help them choose a few comfort items that will help them settle into your new place. A teddy bear, baby blanket and book are necessary items if they’ll entertain and calm your child, so be sure to include them in their essentials box. Otherwise, you may have a very unhappy kid on your hands — and lots of unpacking to do — before you find their favorite plush toy.
How To Handle Moving Day
No matter how well you pack and prepare, moving day will probably be stressful. On top of loading all your boxes into a truck, you must also worry about entertaining your kids. Make your job a million times easier by hiring a babysitter or giving your little one a new coloring book or toy on moving day. You might also use baby gates or a playpen to keep smaller kiddows safe while you load your vehicles.
Whatever challenges you face on moving day, remember that you’ll soon be in your new home together and that’s all that truly matters. For now, try to take all the crazy emotions in stride and support each other as you all make this big transition.