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How to Make Moving Easier on Your Kids

How to Make Moving Easier on Your Kids

Here are nine expert tips to make moving a breeze for everyone in the family.

Moving is considered one of the most stressful life events, and anyone who has done it knows why. The packing, organizing, and (literal) heavy lifting are always harder than anticipated. Then there are the emotional detachments and re-attachments. “A move is a huge transition even if you’re going down the street,” says Nicole Black, who runs Coffee and Carpool, a parenting advice site.

She should know—she has moved her three school-aged kids to three different states in three years because of her husband’s career. “While a move away from friends, family, and the only home a child has known can be traumatic and overwhelming, when you take the time to focus on helping your kids through this process, it becomes a smoother, more positive experience for everyone.”

It’s never easy, but experts have found 10 time-tested ways to cope with a big move and ease the journey to a new home.

Help the Kids Focus on the Future

“Moving means two things: You want to be open with your kids about what they’re leaving behind, but you also want to get them focused on new adventures,” says Liz Tenety, co-founder of Motherly, a site for millennial moms, and a mom of three who has moved 10 times as a parent due to graduate schools, changing careers, and a growing family. “My husband and I know that our moves were hard on our kids, but by focusing on new people and experiences, they were able to stay resilient.”

Be Specific About Timing

“Especially if your kids are very little, you want to make the timing of a move very specific,” says Elisabeth Stitt, a parenting coach at Joyful Parenting Coaching. “This means you should put dates on the family calendar (even if they might change). Refer often to how much more time you have. For toddlers and preschoolers, make it as concrete as possible by tying the date to their regular routine, as in, ‘two more library visits before we go to the new library.’”

Reassure Your Children That Some Things Will Stay the Same

“Your goal is to make sure your kids are involved in the process from beginning to end,” says Lisa Jacobs, a professional organizer in New York City. “Have a conversation with them about how exciting it is to move into a new home with a brand-new room, while assuring them that all of their favorite toys will go wherever they go.”

Savor the Memories of Your Old Home

“One way for your kids to adjust to this big move is to create a picture book about the house you are currently living in, especially if it is the home your kids were brought home to as infants,” Stitt says. “Have them go around and photograph or video a tour of the house, the neighborhood, and even their school. If they are moving more than an hour or two away, having pictures of their old life will give them something to share with their new life.” 

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Make Decluttering Fun for Everyone

“When it came time to move, I created a ‘toy store’ so my kids could be part of decluttering their toys and books,” says Ali Wenzke, author of The Art of Happy Moving: How to Declutter, Pack, and Start Over While Maintaining Your Sanity and Finding Happiness. “We bring every single toy into one space and we display it like a toy store. Then the kids can ‘buy’ all of the toys they want to keep, and we donate whatever remains.”

Hire a Sitter on Moving Day

“Kids can easily get freaked out by the frantic scene that occurs when the movers arrive,” says T.J. Peterson, digital media coordinator at Oz Moving & Storage. “When parents hire a sitter, the kids will stay calm during the chaotic moving day scene, and your movers will be able to handle tasks unfettered.”

Focus on a Cool, New Bedroom

“If your child is especially stressed about an upcoming move, recast it and focus on how cool his or her new room will be,” suggests Kristen Wilkenson, founder of Mom Managing Chaos, a site that focuses on helping families stay organized. The mom of three children has moved 11 times in the last 15 years to facilitate job changes. “Is there a paint color he or she has in mind for the room, and how does he or she want it to be decorated? Make it fun by looking through décor magazines and Pinterest to get ideas.”

Get the Kids Settled First and Foremost

“Set up the bedding and create a quiet spot where he or she can be alone, if needed,” Wenzke says. “This way, your child will have a private oasis to escape to during the moving chaos. Plus, you may even get a few minutes to unpack some of your own boxes.”

Scout the Neighborhood for Other Kids

“Having moved my own children several times, I found that it was very important for my kids to meet other kids their age,” Drennan says. “Ask friends of friends if they know of any families with kids the same age or check out local mom groups. I noticed that once my kids had a friend or two nearby, they were better able to settle in.”