Ten years ago I moved from my cute, hip Sellwood rental to my husband’s home in Forest Grove. I hated the whole process. After it was over, I swore I never wanted to move again. And that was just packing up my twenty-something self and my dog. A decade later my husband and I have three children under eight years-old, two dogs, a cat and A LOT more crap!
Whether you’re moving across the country or down the street, buying and/or selling a home and then packing and moving with kids underfoot is not fun. Nor is it easy.
Our family has been keeping an eye on the market to decide when the best time to list our home and buy a new one would be for about the last seven years. We finally took the plunge this past January, and after a harrowing, nearly six-month ordeal, it is finally over.
Aside from being completely relieved that we made it and swearing (for the second time) that we will never, ever do it again, I ended up chronicling the whole, messy story on my own blog. At the time, I thought it would just be a comical retelling of what went wrong, but by the end of the four-part series, I realized there were actually some tiny nuggets of wisdom gained and at least a few good tricks to pass along.
So here they are, in all their glory, my top ten best tips for moving with kids. Some are taken from my own experience and others are gleaned from Pinterest, but all of them became life (and relationship) savers:
For selling a home:
- Get childcare when you meet with your listing agent to fill out paperwork and again when having pictures taken. It will save you time and the headache of trying to keep them out of the way.
- Paint and clean while the kids are in school/daycare or after bedtimes, and use baby gates to keep them out of the areas that are still a work-in-progress or until the paint is dried.
When buying a house:
- Get childcare during your showings so you don’t have to watch them like hawks around the seller’s stuff, and to keep them from getting their hopes up on a house you may not buy.
- After you’ve picked the home to buy, let the kids see it, so they feel a part of the decision-making process, and can dream along with you about where the couch will go, which room will be theirs, etc.
During the packing phase:
- Start early! There are many things you can pack even 4-6 weeks before moving day. Pinterest is a great resource for helpful moving timelines and advice on how and when to pack what (here are some great ones I found for both local and long-distance moves).
- Purge, purge PURGE! Get the kids to help you decide what furniture, housewares, toys, clothes and play equipment can be given away or sold.
When moving day (or week) arrives:
- Get childcare (notice a theme here?) for the big days when you cannot have them running underfoot. If you can, enlist a multitude of friends who want to help you move to take the kids on different days, so they get to do something or go someplace new or fun each day they are away from you.
- Have a moving plan in place, but expect that at some point, not everything will go as you hoped, so be flexible and roll with the punches. It’s normal and okay to just “survive” for the first few days or weeks.
- Take some time and allow yourself and the kids to say goodbye to the old place. If they’ve been there their whole lives, it’s a big transition for their little minds to absorb and adjust. Talking it through and allowing them to feel their emotions may save you some mega tantrums and acting out down the road.
After it’s all said and done:
- The worst part is over. But don’t beat yourself up when it takes longer than you expected to settle in, unpack and get used to the new place. Few families are 100% unpacked after two months, much less a week after a big move, so give your spouse, your kids, and yourself a lot of time and a ton of grace!