It is hard to move your kids around even if you are just going to the supermarket, right? Now imagine moving with children: the packing, the unpacking, the organizing... all of it while you are also watching over them! One second left unsupervised and you'll have them unpacking what you just packed, or packing by themselves that one specific thing that you wanted to leave unpacked (and then having to unpack all of the boxes trying to find it... you know we don't make this stuff up!). Yes, you can see it happening, right? Plus the crying, the running to the bathroom, the never ending "I'm hungry/thirsty", the messing around with siblings...while you are trying to pack. Yes, if moving is a tough process for grown-ups, it's definitely tougher for grown-ups with kids BUT of course, we have to say it: it is very, very tough on the kids themselves.
So although you'd like to find a survival guide for yourself, the understandably overwhelmed grown-up, what we offer here is a more children-focused guide since, in the end, if they are ok, you will be ok. Focus on the kids and their needs and everything will go smoothly (or as smoothly as a move can go, at least). If you neglect your children and don't guide them through the process, the move will be harder for everyone, including yourself. Spend some time talking to the kids, being with them, making them a part of it, thus avoid thus, future problems. Kids can become your "enemies" or your "helpers"...it is up to you and how you handle the situation!
So enough of the chit-chat, here is our guide:
As soon as you decide you are moving, talk to the kids. You don't want them to learn it from anybody else. Talk to them and give an answer to all of the questions they might have. Give them all the information they need so they understand that although some things are going to be different (neighbors, school, house, friends), you've got it under control and their everyday routine will be somehow the same. Help them know that although it will be a big change (change is scary!) you will be there with them and that they can always count on you. Even if it's just to talk about it. Focus on the good: the fun they will have, the chance of making new friends, how good it will be for the whole family to go through this process together... Yes, acknowledge it will be hard but don't focus on it, rather talk about solutions, future family plans, their new room... Help them look at the bright side of it.
2. Get them involved
- Packing. No, they can't pack your glassware or your furniture (we wish!) ...the idea is not to have them do real packing themselves but rather have them feel a part of the process. Choose things they can actually pack and give them some spare boxes for it. It is also a great opportunity for them to choose which of their things are going to the new house (put them in the box) and which are going to the garage sale or charity. By the way, let them make their own money at the garage sale: tell them they can buy new toys with the money the make from selling the old ones... this usually helps them with letting go. And do respect what they have packed in their boxes. Kids know when they are just being kept busy with no real purpose from being kept busy for real and, believe us, they want to feel and be helpful, they do.
- With choosing/deciding on the new house. Once again, no, they can't pick the new house themselves (they would pick Disney's castle if it was up to them!) but they can definitely come with you sometimes when choosing your new home. Listen to their opinions, talk to them about the house. Tell them the things that you like/don't like about the house yourself.
- Visiting the new neighborhood. Once you've chosen a house, walk around the neighborhood -if possible- with the kids. Let them take pictures of the things they like, buy some snacks at the closest shop, walk your dog... This will help them feel comfortable with this new area and when they move, they will be familiarized with it.
3. Good-bye party
Kids worry about loosing their friends, both neighbors and classmates. Let them know they are not loosing friends since you will keep in touch with them. Help them see that they will now have more friends, the old ones AND the new ones. Throw a good-bye party with friends, let them exchange pictures, letters, presents and a way to keep in touch (addresses, emails, phone numbers). It will help them feel better if they know there is a way for them to keep in touch.
4. Moving day
- Find help. Yes, professional and friends. You will need all the help you can get during the much dreaded "D-day". Hire a good moving company so they actually know what they are doing and you don't have to stress over everything and ask family and friends for help with the kids. Someone that can care for them during the whole day or at least a couple of hours. If you can't find someone to look after them:
- Keep them busy. Usually, busy kids mean less trouble. Plan ahead! what will they do that day? Save one room for them to be at (one that you can constantly supervise) and keep them busy doing something, watching movies... let them know that's THEIR room for the day. Done coloring? Here's play-dough. Done? Movie. Done? costumes! Plan ahead and leave all those things at hand. Those are the last things you'll pack into your car. Don't worry about the mess, worry about keeping them busy, you'll later clean that up (or even better, have them clean it themselves). You will have to take some time to have lunch with them, go for a walk with them. It would mean a break for you and for them, since they will get bored. If it is impossible to keep them in a room for long then yes, have them "help"... just keep them busy!
5. Let them choose their room and decorations.
It is their new house, their new room, let them choose. Of course, you first have to choose which rooms could be an option for them and then, let them choose between those options. Otherwise, they'll end choosing the master bedroom and you know it (you would too!). Colors? The same, give them options that you think would go well with the decoration and let them choose from those options. In that way, everyone is happy. If yellow is a big NO for you, don't give them that option...but there are many other colors that they can choose from, right?
6. Keep their daily routine
This is very very important for them to feel stable. Yes, you'll have plenty of things to do: unpacking, groceries, cleaning... yet try to do it without messing their everyday routine. Lunch time at lunch time. Bedtime at bedtime. Playground at playground time. Unpack later. Clean later. You don't have to do it all in one day! give yourself a break. Spend quality time with the kids. Have fun at the new house. Your things won't go anywhere, there will be time to unpack.
7. Get involved in the new school
Want the kids to adapt to their new school? Setting an example yourself might as well help. They will see you going there, introducing yourself, trying to get involved. "If mom/dad can do it, maybe I can too!"
9. Make friends with neighbors
Same with the neighbors. Introduce yourself, talk to people at the playground. You can't expect you kids to make new friends and be an island yourself. Set the example Plus, you really want to know your neighbors -and let them know you- since you ARE starting a new chapter at this neighborhood, at this new community.
Does this guide guarantee perfection? Of course not. One last thing: EXPECT some setbacks. If you are mentally prepared for them, they won't catch you by surprise: keep your inner peace, take deep breaths. It is not an easy day and it's ok. You'll survive. Solve one problem at a time and you'll get by. As crazy as it sounds, it is still a very possible mission and, although it is hard for both parents and kids, it can be done and done well.
Victory Van would be happy to help during this process, the whole process. Give us a call, we can help you pack, move and unpack so you can be with the kids and not worry about moving logistics. We have been moving families for many years and we have the experience that you very much need from a moving company for that day. Let us help.