How to Move House with Kiddos and Keep the Family Sane.
By Amy Turn Sharp of Doobleh-vay
Photo by Paul Keleher
1. Open your mouth
Discuss it with children that have some comprehension as soon as possible. I know sometimes not informing your kids that they are getting a shot or having a babysitter until the moment it is upon them is better for their psyche, but moving is a big deal and they need to have time to process. Sometimes moves are not just escape to the country, they are for difficult reasons like divorce or separation. Allow them to be involved in the family moving narrative. Give them a voice and keep upbeat even if you weep a bit in the bathroom at the thought of leaving your own backyard.
2.Discover the new place together
If you can visit the home and neighborhood before you move this will be helpful with forging connections. Show your child the home and neighborhood virtually if this an out of town move. Discover new parks, schools, and shops online. Let your child tour the real estate website with you. Try and organize a fun activity to do as a family when you move so it can be something cool to look forward to. Book a yoga session at a local studio or something for you too, mom. It will help. If your children are old enough to help think of ideas for home remodel/decor let them in on the process. When kids are able to have a say in a project there is a far greater buy-in and you might not have thought of that cool chalkboard wall for the kitchen.
3.Brown boxes scare me
Let’s not sugarcoat it- packing sucks. Kids are great at making messes but often have not mastered organization. Let children pack their own room. Yes, even preschoolers can learn to pack up a room with help. There are lessons everywhere and learning to sort and organize is a big one. Moving is a wonderful time to discuss charity and how we can give away things we do not need to others. A giant mistake we all make is not purging properly before a move. Make boxes for your kids that say keep/toss/give and let them work. Then hire a sitter or get them out of the house for a whole day and tear around like a banshee and cry and drink wine as you get the rest of it done.
I stood in the doorway of our last house and sobbed on the day we moved. It had been the place where we brought home our babies and our first true home. Kids will also mourn their old space and feel resistant to change so I like to give them the tools to work out their feelings. A good tradition is to leave a piece of the family behind forever. In both our old homes we have left a letter about ourselves and photographs hidden behind the fireplace mantle. A tree planting ceremony is a great way to bring closure to this experience too. Take the time to say goodbye to neighbors and friends as proper goodbyes make new beginning easier.
5. Welcome Home
I like to have a gift waiting in the children’s bedroom for them. It is welcoming and sweet. Tell them it is a thank you from the house (it works much like a new baby giving older sibling a gift at hospital- don’t doubt me it just works) for such a nice family moving in. If you packed an essential box for everyone with favorite items and clothing then you are fine for a couple days. Do take-away for dinner and don’t invite anyone over. Sink into the neighborhood and expose the kids to the beauty of their new life. Walk around with open eyes. The boxes won’t spontaneously combust if you don’t unpack for a few days and relaxing and decompressing as a family is paramount. You are constructing the foundation of your new home. Make it sturdy.