Moving can be a stressful experience, add a couple of children into the mix and things can get a lot more complication. Not only do you have administrative responsibilities to tend to like paperwork, school registrations, moving logistics and potentially new jobs; you also have the emotional needs of your children that can’t be overlooked. Selling real estate to many families over the years I have seen what works (and what doesn’t) for creating seamless and straight forward moving experiences. Here are my top 10 tips for moving with children.
Start the countdown
It’s happening. You’ve closed on the sale, the ink has dried and your new home is becoming closer to a reality. Make sure to keep the kids in the loop so they aren’t overwhelmed and caught off guard when moving week begins. Create a countdown and place it somewhere visible (like on the kitchen fridge), make it a fun interaction counting down the days until THE big day.
Value your children’s feedback
Whether they see the new home in person or not, keep them informed and ask for their feedback. If you’ve narrowed it down to two or three houses find out your children’s favourite features about each home; keep the conversations positive, focusing on what they like instead of what they don’t.
Research the new place
As you start researching your new home, neighbourhood and community keep the kids informed. Just found out they have a great community swimming pool? Suggest swimming lessons after you’re settled in. Encourage older children to conduct their own research and create a list of things they want to see and do after they arrive.
Make room plans
If you ever moved as a child you’ll remember the most exciting part was choosing your new room. If you are able to allocate rooms before the move in date then let your children’s imaginations roam as to what they want to create in their new space. If they’re interested in assisting with decorating the rest of the home, like picking out curtains or linens, then keep them involved in this process too.
Do a visit
If possible, let your children visit the new home before you move in. Having a first-hand experience of the property will eliminate the fear of the unknown. Visit local parks, schools and shops so your children can visualize themselves living in the new community.
Be a tourist in the new place
Have a bit of extra time? Why not play tourist in your new town. This is a great way to get the kids excited about the move. This is easy for places like Whistler, where there are so many great family-friendly activities available.
Let them help pack
If they’re interested in helping with the packing this should be encouraged (plus every box they pack is one you don’t need to!). Encourage them to sort their belongings into what they’re taking and what they’re donating. The younger kids will have fun with newspaper and bubble wrap (although some secondary packing may be required).
Throw a party
Throw a ‘good-bye’ or ‘see-you-later’ party and make sure to keep it positive. Let your children invite whatever friends they wish and make a point of inviting all party guests to come visit your new home.
Time your move
Sometimes it’s not possible to perfectly time your move, but if you have the option, choosing times that don’t coincide with big life events can make the transition smoother. Is your child potty training? In the midst of a stressful year at school? Just about to graduate? If you can time your move with school holidays or just before big transitions (from elementary to high-school for example), it can facilitate a smoother experience.
Maintain familiar routines
To help the kids adjust to their new home, try and stay consistent with familiar routines. By keeping mealtimes and bedtimes the same, kids will be rested and nourished thus better able to absorb the change. If you have family traditions like pizza every Friday, make sure to carry these pastimes with you into your new home.
Moving is a very exciting experience but can also be an emotional and overwhelming time for children. By keeping them involved in the process, creating a fun and positive experience and maintaining family routines and traditions, the moving experience can be enjoyable for the entire family.