You’ve carefully considered the options, and you’ve made the decision: the best move for your family right now is, well, a move. Whether for a new job, better schools and neighborhoods, or just a new adventure, you know that your family will be better off moving to a new place.
You want the move to be a good experience for your kids-something that will bring your family closer together and expose your kids to new people and places. But you also know that moving can be a very stressful experience for children. How do you make moving a positive experience?
Frederic J. Medway, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, says that children fare better during a move if they are helped to ease into the transition. Include your kids in your preparations and planning so they feel involved during big changes.
Below, we’ve compiled the ultimate chronological moving checklist-the one that will help you get things done quickly while easing your kids’ fears.
As Soon as Possible
Tell Your Kids
For fear of upsetting your kids, you might want to wait till the last possible moment to inform them about the move. But springing an unexpected, major life-change on children can cause stress and even trauma. Give your kids the time they need to adjust to the idea of the move.
If you are excited and optimistic about the move, your kids will sense it, and it will affect they feel about the change. Look up interesting details, photos, and facts about your new location, and be honest and transparent. Answer your children’s questions.
Two Months Before the Move Gather Records
Collect your kids’ medical and school records, as well as other important family paperwork. Forward important documents to your new location.
With other members of your family-including your kids!-go through each room of the house and collect anything you’d like to get rid of. Consider taking these items to a local charity instead of throwing them away.
Six Weeks Before the Move
Contact Your Moving Company
Choose a moving company that is kid-friendly and professional. Movers can provide packing materials, transportation, and staff, and can even plan and pack for you, if you prefer.
Change Your Address
Fill out an online change of address form so your mail will be forwarded. Update your information with schools, lawyers, doctors, etc. The right paperwork will help you and your kids adjust quicker once you arrive at your new destination.
Plan a Going-Away Party
Your children may want a way to say goodbye to their friends and loved ones. A party can help your children feel that you understand and support them in their relationships.
Four Weeks Before the Move
Get the boxes and help your kids begin to pack. Explain that the moving company will take good care of their possessions, and help them label boxes that they want put first in the truck or carry fragile items.
Confirm Travel Plans
Your moving company will arrange the details for moving your possessions, but confirm your family’s transportation plans. Involve your kids in planning logistics and make it fun by looking at a map or planning an adventure for moving day.
Two Weeks Before the Move
Prepare a Special “Kid Box”
Your kids may feel concerned that their special toys or clothes will get lost during moving day. Help your kids prepare a special box that you will keep with you on moving day, so they can keep an eye on the things they treasure most.
Get your house ready for the move and start cleaning lesser-used rooms and closets. Keep your kids busy and ask them to help with the chores. Use cleaning time to tell stories, share jokes, and play games.
One Week Before the Move
Empty out lockers and safety deposit boxes, refill prescriptions, return borrowed items to neighbors and friends, and throw out any unwanted food and possessions. Help your children take thank-you notes to their teachers.
The Day Before
Finish Packing and Cleaning
Complete any last-minute preparations-clean out the fridge, pack those last suitcases, and replace burnt-out light bulbs.
Ensure that you have everything packed and organized the way you’d like it. Check closets and drawers to make sure you’re not forgetting anything-especially small objects your children treasure, like a favorite stuffed animal.
Spend Time Together
You may feel stressed on the eve of moving day, but let your moving company take care of loose ends while you spend time with your family. Have a family sleepover in an empty room, or go out to a special dinner.
Use the Moving Company
When the big day comes, turn it over to the moving company. You’ve chosen a trustworthy service and professional staff-they’ll take care of your possessions so you can focus on the kids.
Give your kids the time they need to say goodbye. Some kids may feel unhappy if given too much time to contemplate the change, but others may need a few hours to say goodbye to favorite places and people.
Your children will feel more secure about the move if they know that no matter what happens, their family will be there for them. Just as you hoped, your move can be a great experience for your kids as you keep them close while you organize and prepare.