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Moving can be stressful for anyone but when you add kids to the mix, it can be downright exhausting. We’ve had our share of moves across the country and around the world with and without kids. So how do you do it? Let’s talk about what will make your life easier when moving with kids.

Babies and Toddler-aged kids

My first move with a 6 month old baby was from Texas to New Mexico. My husband and I were both active duty military and he was in training school at the time, so I had to find a house by myself…oh and with a baby in tow. Luckily, she didn’t mind the travel and was easy to transport with a car seat. I just had to work around nap times and feeding times to look for a house and eventually make an offer.

I remember the drive from Texas to New Mexico and I basically stopped every two hours to feed her, change her diaper, play a little and then get back in the car. I had a bin full of toys in the front seat. I would pass her a toy after she got tired of one (or dropped it) and she played with in her car seat. Once I ran out of toys to pass back to her, it was time for a stop anyway.

Babies don’t really care yet about moving. The older they get, the more questions they have that are harder to answer. As long as their mama is nearby, babies are going to be fine with the move. Toddlers may like the adventure and the fun in learning about new places as long as you make it a game. I think that is the key with toddlers who need a little bit of comfort in making a change like moving from house to house. They probably won’t even remember it.

Key takeaways with babies and toddlers for a smooth move:

1. Pack their lovies, blankets, bottles, diapers, potty trainer (if needed). I also packed the playpen in the car while the moving truck had the crib. The playpen did double duty as play area and for sleeping until the moving truck showed up.

2. Snacks are a big help here too. Pack their favorites.

3. Music can bring a soothing environment for your baby or toddler. It can also help make the time go faster if driving or flying. We played CDs in the car (yes I am dating myself) but kids playlists on your favorite player can also work. They may ask for the same song over and over again, but in the end, it’s for them, right?

4. If the drive is a long one, plan some stops along the way. Search out for playgrounds at rest stops or in a nearby town. Let them get outside and burn some energy off by playing outside. 

Small children

We lived in our Virginia home for eight years which was a record for us! To make our move from Virginia to North Carolina, our kids were 4, 7 and 12. Luckily, it was only a 5 hour drive to our new home town. After taking a solo trip (no hubby either) to North Carolina to scout out a short term rental home (think 4-6 months), I took the kids with me one weekend to scout out the area.

We played scavenger hunts, found the local playgrounds, scouted out schools and places to eventually live. These games were very handy especially when it came to getting to know the area. Anything you can can do to make the transition easier BEFORE you move is bonus points for you mama!

By doing a pre-scouting run with the kids, you can then say, remember that awesome park or pizza place at the new town? We don’t have that at our old place. It gives the kids something to look forward to.

Key takeaways with small kids:

1. Bring their favorite 2-3 toys in the car or on the plane. When packing up the other toys at the house, show them they will be coming too but in boxes. I remember unpacking day in the new house and how excited they were to be reunited with their toys again. It was like Christmas when they discovered their “old” new toys.

2. Pack a separate activity bag for each child. Put things in that will keep them occupied such as story books, crayons and a coloring book. We used Dollar Tree to find some inexpensive supplies that we didn’t care if they got left behind or lost.

3. Bring hand held electronic devices (and charging cords) for movie time and games for short durations.

4. Games to play in the car or on the plane. Things like Bingo or Road Trip games are a great way to have them look out the window.

moving with kids coloring

Pre-teen and teenagers

And then we get to the older kids. Teenagers can be a moody bunch and a move can be very difficult for them. Talking them through your expectations might help the situation. They will miss their friends and knowing they have to make new ones can be very scary.

We had to move our kids aged 7,10 and 15 from the US to Germany. That was both an exciting and scary time for all of us. Our international move was challenging but we made it work and it helped that we could travel around Europe to see something new. In fact, I planned our first trip to Paris after living in Germany for 2 months and the kids had a blast seeing the local sites like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and eating fresh croissants.

Here are some tips to help with the transition:

1. Let them know that you too (as the parent) have to make new friends. Remind them that your friends are probably kids parents too so you can work together.

2. Have them research the new town and find some cool places to check out like a karate dojo, skateboarding park, arcade, adventure parks, putt putt golf, movie theaters and festivals that are nearby.

3. Sometimes a new bedroom is a chance to update their space. Maybe this is a great bonding time to pick out new wall paint and decor for their new bedroom. I’m not above bribing but it can help moving with kids. New bedsheets or curtains, or a new bedroom theme is a great place to start to help ease the transition.

Overall, moves can be difficult on kids but it’s not impossible. Take some time to get to know the new town and find activities to play tourist while there. It will help them get used to the new place and find places they may want to plan a visit in the future. Find some local Facebook groups to connect with parents and kids in your area. This is a great resource to ask questions, learn about your new town and all that is has to offer.

Moving Checklist Planner

This moving checklist is for US moves only and non-military affiliated. Stay organized with this checklist!

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