As any parent can tell you, everything takes longer when kids are involved. That goes double if you are planning a move with kids. Not only do kids quadruple the volume of stuff you have to move, but they still need to be entertained and cared for during the move or they are bound to find ways to entertain themselves that are less than helpful.
My family is preparing for a move with 3 kids ages 7 and under. The last time we moved, my then 18 month old got into the habit of sneaking things in and out of boxes when we weren’t looking. We packed half our house before we realized he had packed the only key to my van in one of the boxes. With only days until our move, there was no way we could unpack every box to dig for the key. We had no choice but to have my van towed to the dealership and have a very expensive new key made for it.
This time we’re slightly more seasoned (and the kids are slightly older) and U-Haul has been helping us out with some great moving tips so we’re hoping things will go smoother than they did before.
- Pack in Moderation – It’s easy to get overwhelmed while moving, especially if you have to continue with your hectic daily schedule at the same time. Several weeks to a month before your move, make it a goal to pack a few boxes a day. There are many things, like your kitchen and some basic necessities, that you don’t have a choice but to pack at the last minute but by packing up most of the excess you’ll reduce your stress level in those last few days by leaps and bounds.
- Label EVERYTHING – During our first move, I tried to label everything well but I got lazier and more disorganized as we got closer to our move date. By the end I had several boxes simply labeled, “Crap”. Besides the surprise boxes we had to open at the end of our move, we ran into all kinds of problem when we packed something that we needed before our things had come out of storage and had to search through dozens of poorly labeled boxes to find it.
- Keep Essentials Separate – The last thing you want to do when moving with kids is realize that you packed a favorite blankie in the bottom of one of your boxes and you have no idea which box it is. Fill a suitcase with basics like hygiene items, special toys or comfort items, and other random essentials like cell phone chargers. Keep that suitcase easily accessible as you’re in transition and plan for delays. Even if you know how long your move will be, you don’t know how long it will take you to unpack the boxes you’ll need so be sure and include extra changes of clothes and a good stash of diapers and other odds and ends your kids may need.
- Don’t Let your Kids Get Bored – It can be hard to keep kids occupied on a good day, but in the chaos of a move when all their toys are packed up – forget it. Bored kids can get into trouble though (remember what happened to my van key?). Have a friend take your kids to the park while you pack or load the truck if possible. Let your kids keep a backpack full of their toys out to play with and strongly consider having a hidden stash with an extra toy or two you can pull out when they grow tired of those. Older kids may be excited to help in the packing and moving. Kids can help tape boxes, pack their own things, or do basic cleaning tasks. If all else fails, give you kids a roll of bubble wrap and let them go to town.
- Create a Moving Schedule – Moving can make your head spin trying to keep track of all your regular activities as well as what needs to get done when to get you moved on the date you plan on (I’ve already forgotten 2 major things today). Create a schedule so you know exactly what has to get done and where you have to be each day. An online calendar like Cozi can make it easy to assign tasks to other family members if you have older kids or a online chore chart like MyJobChart.com can make it easy to reward kids for helping with the process.
If you are planning a move this summer (or if you’re an old pro at moving with kids) we’d love to have you share your tips with us in the comments.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by U-Haul. Follow U-Haul on Twitter for more advice on moving with kids.