Anyone who has ever moved knows it's not easy. Moving with children underfoot seems like an almost monumental task. While moving into our new home with five children (all 10 years old and under) I csme up with some sanity-saving tips.
1. Get Them Involved
When my oldest was almost 3, we moved from one city to another. He was very cognizant of change and was curious and a little concerned about his favorite things going into boxes. I realized he wasn't too young to help, so I put him to work. He helped me pack the boxes for his room and even got to draw on the boxes. This turned something that could have been traumatic (his favorite toys going into a box) into a game. When we got to the new house, he was excited to find the boxes he packed and helped me unpack them. Now that I am moving with older children, it's even easier. I gave them each a lesson on packing, gave them boxes and set them to work. The 10 and 8 year olds packed their rooms almost entirely. It made packing easier on all of us to get them involved.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
If you aren't fortunate enough to hire movers, you'll be doing it on your own. Be realistic about what you can get done in a day with children around. Make a loose schedule and try to stick to it. If you can start a month in advance, you can pack a little at a time. Start with things that won't be missed, off-season clothing, extra books, toys, and appliances that are only occasionally used. Give yourself a packing task to accomplish every day. This way you can still play with kids, take them to camps, school, practices, feed them, change diapers, go on walks, and everything else that moms have to do every day. You can't do everything in a week. Your time will be divided between packing and taking care of your children. When you keep your expectations realistic, it will help your sanity enormously.
3. Ask for Help
In my experience, this is one of the most under-utilized tips. Ask for help, let others take your kids for an afternoon so you can get some packing done. Ask friends and family to help you paint, clean, pack, and move—some food and refreshments is usually all the repayment friends need. Set up playdates for your children so you can get more done with them out of the way. Everyone will be happier when this happens.
4. Pack a Bag or Two for Moving Week
It doesn't matter if you're moving across town, or across the country. Everything is going into boxes. The last week of packing is often the hardest. Trying to keep everyone entertained and dressed when their toys and clothing are packed can be challenging. Get out the suitcases and backpacks and pack them up. Get yourself and children a week of clothing in a suitcase. Then have them pick some of their favorite books, toys, crafts, and other items to entertain them. If you're moving across the country, pack another bag of toys for the trip. Maybe books or toys they haven't seen in a while. Combined with snacks, this will keep them happy and entertained on the trip.
5. Divide and Conquer
If you're married or have a partner, this is a great one. One parent can take the children and entertain them while the other works. With our move, this worked well. We had a week where we had possession of the house before we moved in. I painted in the evenings while my husband put the children to bed, and then would pack. On moving day, I took the children to the park while he and his friends loaded and unloaded the truck. This way everyone is happy!
These are just a few tips I found worked best for our family in our "do-it-yourself move." If you're finding yourself in the process of moving with small people running around, remember this: It won't last forever. It will get done. And just breathe.