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We have moved a few times in Brayden’s lifetime. The first was when he was two weeks old. The next was when he was one year old. The last was when he was four years old. My friend, Kelli, also moved in the last few months. Here are our tips for making the move easier on yourself and the family. Please be sure to comment with your own tips if you have them!
- Plan Ahead. Know how much space you will have. We called ahead for actual room sizes, then taped off our rooms to get the dimensions of the space we would be moving into to make sure we could actually fit what we were bringing. (by Kelli)
- Less Is Better. I would suggest bringing only what you think you absolutely need. Then eliminate 10% more. (by Kelli)
- Sell What You Can. It costs so much to store furniture these days, that it is worth it to sell off unused furniture that you can part with. Local online classifieds like craigslist.com is good for this. (by Kelli)
- Share Storage. We ended up getting a local storage locker to store a washer and dryer. The cheapest place we could find was $35 a month. We later found friends here who had extra room in there storage space. We now pay them $10 a month for a portion of theirs. It is a good arrangement all around. (by Kelli)
- De-Junk: View the move as an opportunity to “de-junk” your stuff. We often hang on to things that we really will never use. I like to throw stuff away (or set aside for good will) as I pack. I also get rid of stuff as I unpack. Don’t get rid of things you might need in the new place (that is just a waste of money!), but take advantage of this organizing opportunity. (by Val)
PACKING (by Val)
- Start Early. I personally like to start packing quite early. Even when I was in college and moving a car full of stuff, I started a month early. I know that is a bit extreme…start early enough that you can really organize things as you go.
- Organize By Room: When you are packing your boxes, group items by room. Do it by rooms the items will go in at the new house, not where they are in the current house. Why? It makes unpacking so much easier.
- Label: Label your boxes according to room. You can just write which room it goes in. Some readers have said they assigned a color to each room and put a colored index card on each box. Do what works for you. I labeled which room it went in as well as what was in the box. Label all sides of the box. I put the room it went in on top and each side. I then put more details on the top or sides.
- Pack a Suitcase: Pack a suitcase (or whatever) for each member of the family as though you were going on vacation for a few days. A vacation in a tent :). Pack as though there will be no amenities (but you will have electricity). Include toiletries, clothes, pillows, toys, books for bedtime, etc.
- Pack Important Items Together: Something I did was pack bedding for each bed in a box together, then I marked it in a very noticeable way. I knew we would need all of that for that night. Make it so noticeable that you can find it in a sea of boxes.
- Pack Monitors In Purse: or somewhere else you can’t lose it. Our first night in our new house, I easily found Kaitlyn’s monitor and Brayden’s monitor. I could not, however, find McKenna’s monitor anywhere! I had just packed them a few hours before. Her monitors were some of the very last things I packed. I didn’t find them for days. Luckily, I just used Brayden’s for her. He is old enough to be able to come to us if there is a problem. If I had to do it over again, I would put the monitors in my purse and keep in on my person.
- Pack Yourself: When we moved when Brayden was one, my husband’s company paid for a moving company to pack and move us. While it was nice to have them do all the packing, and they packed everything in one day, it was really a pain to unpack. I don’t think it was worth it for me. I prefer packing my things in logical (logical to me) groupings. Movers are just putting everything in boxes as fast as they can. No worries to them if the kitchen spoons are mixed in with the toilet paper. I am sure there are people out there who prefer movers. Decide what will work best for you and do that.
- Get Free Boxes: Most grocery stores or fast food chains will give you their boxes for free. We got all of our boxes from our local Wendy’s. Their boxes were very sturdy and strong.
- Send the Children Away: If you can, have the kids visit grandma or a friend so you can get some packing done without them distracting. But do let them help with their own rooms.
PREPPING CHILDREN (by Val)
- Talk About The Move: Tell your children you are moving. Talk about what you will take and what you won’t take. At first, Brayden thought we were going to leave all of our stuff in the old house (even his toys). He was surprisingly fine with that, but very excited to learn he could take his toys with him.
- Read Books: It might be helpful to read books about moving to your child.
- Let Them Help: Let your children help pack, especially their own stuff.
- Visit the New House/Look at Pictures: Since we didn’t move far, we were able to visit our new house often. We would go there and show them around the house and show them their new rooms. If you can’t do that, try to get pictures of the new house to show your children.
- Have Open Communication: Talk with your children about the things and people they will miss. Tell them what will be different. Tell them what will be good. Ask what they like about the new house. Give them something positive to look forward to, but don’t dismiss feelings of loss for leaving the old house.
- Walk Through the Empty House: After a few days in our new house, Kaitlyn (2) started requesting we “go home.” I decided she needed to see the old house so she could feel some closure. We went over and visited it all empty. We looked in every room and saw that it wasn’t our home anymore. After that, she was totally fine with the new house. If you are moving far away, I highly recommend you do a walk through with your children before you leave your house.
- Plan Ahead: We had friends who did not book hotels and plan stops in advance, and ended up spending at least one night in a car. (by Kelli)
- Make an Itinerary: After we mapped a route and booked hotels, we printed off an itinerary for both vehicles with local maps and information as well as contact info for truck return and landlord arrangements when we arrived. (by Kelli)
- Bring Help: My husband drove the moving truck, and my mom did most of the driving in our car so I could devote my energies to entertaining our two boys. We would not have made it without her. (by Kelli)
- Fly if Needed: I had a friend who flew to their new home with her 14 month old while her husband drove the moving van. The flight was much shorter and easier on her baby. (by Val)
POST-MOVE (by Val)
- Unpack Fast: Unpack your children’s things quickly. When Kaitlyn started asking to go home, I thought about things from her perspective. Most of her toys were boxed up and she was living in a new house full of boxes. How fun is that for a two year old? Brayden (4) was fine with things being unsettled, but he has always been very flexible with change like that. I know it is a big job (believe me). I also know that a room like the kitchen is very important to get done quickly. But be sure to put the kids’ rooms high on the priority list.
- Send the Children Away: One option is to have the kids visit grandma or a friend for a day or two so you can really focus on packing and get things as settled as possible before they come to their new house.
- Maintain Routine: Try your best to keep the routine the same for your children. Everything around them has been uprooted. Maintaining your routine will help them have something familiar to hold to.
- Have Patience: Over the course of Kaitlyn’s life, she has literally never protested independent playtime. Our first day in our new house, she did independent play just fine. Day two…she cried. I had her come out of independent play and didn’t try again for a week. I wanted to be sure she was emotionally secure before trying it again. I used her extra time with me as an opportunity to finally hit potty training again (I had stopped when McKenna was born since she was not able to pull her pants down by herself at the time). We reintroduced it slowly, and she now does it as usual.
There are our tips. Please share your tips! I am sure there are many great ones out there.
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