Moving with Kids – Any Tips?

We’ve just moved to another house here in Portland, so it’s been a busy and exciting month. Moving is huge task on its own, but when you add kids into the mix, of course, it’s an even greater challenge. We still have a ton of unpacking to do, but so far, we’re really loving our new place!

I’m sure many of you have experienced moving with kids. Any tips or advice for the rest of us?

Hope you’re all having a good spring! I’ve got a bunch of crafts and paper toys coming up soon!

24 Responses
  1. Some things I found to help was let them “help” if they are old enough, set up their space first so they feel like they belong and have a sense of security, and play with all the boxes! We are moving later this month but my boys are older so we definitely have a different experience!

  2. Molly

    I asked my daughter what colors she wanted in her room. I went to a fabric store towards the end of the business day and narrowed down a fabric selection for my daughter’s curtains etc. to several bolts, and the shopkeeper set them aside for me. When the store opened the next day, I brought my daughter to pick out fabrics. The shop keeper steered her towards the preselected ones, and my girl picked out a couple from that stack. Presto! Control within an agreeable range!

  3. We just moved in (also a month ago) with our 3 years-old, so I can relate easily to your question. So far, I found that including him in the process (such as packing things and organizing his space) have helped, although it never gives us that much time (maybe half an hour). I’ll be sure to check what others will answer you and their tips!

  4. Frank

    Have moved with kids a bunch. It all depends on the distance. Across town is easy as you can do it in stages and the kids can set themselves up as you go along.

    For longer trips have kids pack a box of their favorite stuff. label it and let them know where it went in the truck etc. Make sure that they take their stuff in to the new house and are in charge of that. This lets them claim their territory.

    Get the kids beds set up first. They need to be secure in the new home and the place they will sleep is a priority.

    This can be an anxious time for kids of any age. Establish them into the place with stuff they are familiar with should be a first task when moving in.

  5. i am by no means an authority on kids, except for remembering my own childhood. but one thing i remember when moving — we did it constantly when i was a kiddo, and these were big moves across the country — was how exciting my mom made it for us. she sort of planned it out like this big adventure, & made lots of little games out of it. by the time we actually got to the house it was like exploring this great museum. we were kind of encouraged to imagine what each room could look like, and give our input. i’m sure we had some crazy notions, but the fact that my mom listened & at least feigned some interest definitely validated us during such a confusing time.

    it also helped that our rooms were the very first things to get set up. it was always kids beds in first (plus whatever one or two toys we carried outside of the boxes), and then we left right away to go pick up food somewhere. it made going back into the house a little easier, just knowing some of our things were there.

    also, it probably doesn’t hurt to have a really awesome sitter the kids love on hand!

    congratulations on your move!

  6. Go ´treasuryhunting´ with your kids in your new house and neighboorhood. Let them make treasurepictures of all the things they like in their new house. Choose the best pics to make a collage of. Make the move a great adventure.

  7. We’re planning to move across town this summer, so I’ll be checking back for good ideas. So far, my plans include letting my kids help with the packing as much as possible. My daughter is almost 5, so she should be somewhat helpful… my 2.5-year-old son is a whirlwind so he will probably try to help but not actually be all that helpful. :) I’m also looking forward to giving them free reign with the boxes after we’ve unpacked everything. I see a fort or train in our future!

  8. polymathamy

    Pack whatever you will need for the first 1-2 nights in dedicated suitcases. Include clothes, pajamas, toiletries, and comfort items like a special stuffed animal, blankie, pacifier, etc. Make sure this “first night luggage” goes directly in your car, not mixed in with the moving boxes, so that those essential items are immediately available.

  9. Patricia Ágreda Ferrán

    Hey, Joel, I just came up with something you could do for the kids in the new house! After you’ve emptied several boxes, instead of flattening and troughing them away, just search some big and empty space at the house and put them all over, making also some towers, walls… and close the door or put something in the front to hide all the setting. Then tell them there’s a surprise for them in the new house, a welcome gift… and get over there with all the expectation as possible and when they go in, just encourage them to do whatever they’ll want to!!! You’ll be amazed of all their ideas: pull down, pile up, fill them, run around them, getting inside, push them, tear up, make a carpet with a piece, imagine a house or car… Meanwhile, after watching them a little (‘cause it’s the funniest part) you could keep taking out all the things of the rest of the “million” boxes you’ll still have :) ENJOY A LOT!!!

  10. Good luck with the move.
    We’re in the middle of moving right now. Our two year old has “jobs” to entertain and distract him. Like packing shoes etc into boxes and taking small boxes to the ready to go pile.
    We’ve taken his furniture across first and at the other end we give him one of his boxes to unpack and play with each time we go.
    So far it’s going well and there’s been no major breakdowns or tears.
    All the best

  11. I have moved internationally 3 times in 5 years and the things that helped us were setting up their rooms first, packing their own special suitcase to take their favourite things, packing a special box for them to open at the other end (usually more of their favourite things for their room – mark it especially), letting them build play forts out of boxes and making sure to not forget to feed them regularly during the packing/unpacking! I also scout around for fun things to do during breaks to help them familiarise themselves with the new neighbourhood. We also have a wooden cutout sign saying ‘Home’ that is a tradition for us to put up as soon as possible. During the packing, familiar babysitters/willing friends are worth their weight in gold. It is usually a good 3 months before we see our stuff again so it can be quite stressful for the kids to see the packing – they are better off playing at a friend’s house if possible. Hope this helps someone!

  12. Allison

    Yes, certainly keep some empty boxes for them to play in! After we moved my girls (2 1/2 and 4 1/2 at the time) played in those boxes for a good couple of weeks, and would have longer if we had let them! We pretended they were cars (for them and for their toys, depending on the box size), houses, stores, kitchens, caves, and more! It really gave us some time to get the big things unpacked and organized. We also played lots of hide and seek while there were still lots of boxes around the house. It helped the girls learn where everything was (like the bathrooms!) in the new house. That was something I hadn’t thought of until the day we moved in and all day I heard cries of “Mommy, I’m lost! Where are you? Where is the potty?”. Best of luck!

  13. Wow, so many excellent thoughts and ideas! Yes, we did the kids rooms first too, which was a big help in making them feel at home and comfortable. I think we’ll be doing some treasure hunts and hide and seek now too! The kids still get a bit confused with finding the bathroom and other bedrooms.

    Thanks again for all of the helpful comments! This is great stuff!

  14. I don’t know how far your new house is from your old house, but I think it’s helpful to make an over-sized map of your new area/neighborhood with your kids. Use your cardboard moving boxes to make a bulletin board style map that you can add too with push pins if you want, or alternatively a carpet style map for the floor. You could even recreate some of the buildings with smaller cereal boxes, and make it a play scape for dolls and cars. Keep adding to it over time and mark special family named landmarks (like the house with the black eyed dog), playgrounds, new restaurants, etc. You will have a great time exploring your new neighborhood.

  15. Oh how did I miss this post… Welcome to your new home… relax and go with the flow… Everything takes time and little people are surprisingly good at adapting!!! Love the photo of your little one – who so isn’t little anymore!!!

  16. lorimakesquilts

    I spent my entire childhood moving and it wasn’t a good thing for me. I don’t know how old your kids are, so I just ask that you respect how traumatic it can be to be removed from everything familiar. I would do their spaces first with all their favorite things, so that have a sense of home. But most of all understand that it can take quite some time for the anxiety moving causes to subside, no matter how they might appear outwardly.

    1. Thanks for this comment Lori. I’ve been keeping it in the back of my mind for the past month, and have been extra nurturing to the kids, even though they seem to be doing fine with the move. I’m sure it’s tons of pressure, even if they don’t realize it themselves. I think we’ll be staying here a long long time though, so hopefully they won’t have to go through it again in their childhood. Thanks again for sharing.


  17. Bonjour ! Our two years old loves playing with house made with a box during days and weeks. We decorate it together. For our next move in I think that now she is almost three the house would move in in all the rooms so that she moves as/where she wants (in the new house). We found books to read concerning moving in for our last time, most in french. Here are two books our daughter really loved and appreciated the time we were with boxes and the truck all around. We used the pictures we talked together about not the text for most of them. Probably you can find the first one in english : “La famille souris déménage”, Kazuo Iwamura ; “Tom déménage”, Christophe Le Masne (very realistic). We also decorated the door of the rooms with drawings, paintings.
    Have a nice moving in !

  18. I’m a new follower, so glad to find you. I don’t have kids or grandkids to enjoy your drawings, so guess I’ll have to do it myself! Wish more people would do things like this, as a teacher I see the lack of creativity as a real problem for kids personally and for our collected futures. Keep up the great work!

  19. bienvenue to your new home!
    it’s so funny we’re going to move to a bigger house too, although only accross town, this summer…but it’s our first move with kids, so all the comments that you recieved, are such a great insight for us as well :)
    as a child with my parents we moved around a lot and due to that we changed several times school…I remember it as something exciting and very enriching, my parents were always very positive about it and so we only saw it as something good too…
    for our first own move as a family, the boys are very excited but also confused (we looked for a house for over a year…), so I already asked them what color they would like in their room…they were very enthousiastic about that and I hope that during the little renovations we’ll have to do ourselves they have time to take possession of their new place…our oldest already wants to start ripping of the ugly carpet :)
    all the best with getting setteld! cécile

  20. Tape! We got my son a roll of blue tape and just let him use the rooms we weren’t busy in to play. He made elevated highways, sculptures, tried to wrap the cat (okay that might not have been the best idea on his part), and a few maps on the floor. It kept him busy for hours.

    Also get a few extra boxes for playing with and let them at it with markers and the same tape.