By Jenna Smith
Moving is stressful all by itself. Trying to move with kids -especially while they are still young- can be a complete nightmare. Here is how to move with young kids and babies and still keep your sanity.
Research moving companies as early as possible. The earlier you lock down your professional moving helpers, the better off you will be. For one thing, you won’t have to worry about calling friends to help you move on moving day. It’s not like the days right after college, when your buddies would show up with a pick-up truck, and only expected some pizza and beer in return. Also, having a moving truck scheduled ensures you’ll have a set deadline by which you need to be ready; you won’t be able to procrastinate nearly as much. It also helps you prepare your kids for what is going to happen. It makes moving day a definite thing with a definite end, not some nebulous awful cloud just floating out there somewhere.
Get your children involved in the packing process. If your kids are still very small, have them focus on their own rooms. Let them pack their own books, stuffed animals—anything non-breakable. This will help them take ownership of the move and show them that the packing up of their things doesn’t have to be scary. It also helps them feel like the move is just as much for them as it is for you, which will help them feel more secure.
A great way to pack the bigger things while having kids underfoot is to allow them to decorate the boxes once you have them packed. Once you have a box filled, closed, and labeled, give them some crayons and let them go to town. Hint: Make sure that you label the bottom of the box before turning your kids’ artistic natures loose on it. This way you’ll have at least one easy to read label when you are sorting the boxes at the new place.
If you really need some uninterrupted packing time, arrange for play dates at friends’ houses or a babysitter for kids too young for play dates. There is no shame in asking for help right now. You need it, and the kids will benefit from the distraction.
Encourage your children to exchange addresses and phone numbers with their friends -even young toddlers will be excited at the idea of writing letters, sending and getting real mail. If you’re just moving within the same town, make sure that your kids know that they can still see their friends for play dates from time to time.
Ask your kids lots of questions about how they are feeling and encourage them to ask you questions as well. Answer their questions honestly, even if they ask them dozens of times. Remember that, while you’re probably feeling stressed out, your kids are probably feeling scared. The younger the child, the more fear is felt in the face of change. Talking about the move and what’s involved can help assuage that fear.
And above all else, don’t forget to breathe! Kids and babies pick up on stress—the calmer you are, the calmer they will be.