Moving is hard. It's even harder when you have kids.
We recently moved to a new town for my husband’s job and I learned a lot in the process — including what worked well and what I wish I would have done.
Here's what worked:
- Keep Routines. Spend a little time identifying the routines your family has that are familiar and comforting. For example, we like to play a game of cards at the dining room table after supper and read before bedtime. Pack the items necessary for those routines last and then unpack them first. We kept the dining room table and a deck of cards in our old house for as long as possible. They were one of the first things we unpacked and set up at the new house. I also made sure we had about a week’s worth of books that we moved with us in the car rather than in the moving trailer so we knew right where they were at bedtime.
- Take care of yourself. Moving with kids is a huge endeavor, and there is a lot to get done in a short amount of time. Make sure you are drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. The last thing you need is to get sick in the middle of all of this. So do your best to take care of yourself.
- Keep clean bedding readily available. It takes about a week in your new house to get everything unpacked and really feel like you know where things are. It worked really well to put a clean set of sheets for each bed in totes and clearly label them with instructions “keep with beds.” When we got to the new house, we didn’t have to scrounge through boxes for clean sheets. The tubs were right there. We opened them and made the beds. It was a simple thing that made a big difference on a night when we were all exhausted.
- Get involved. In your new town, get kids involved in activities they love as soon as possible. Basketball camp and Vacation Bible School were both scheduled for the two weeks after we moved. I was worried about how this would affect the kids — being thrown right into these activities when they were still trying to settle in and adjust. But to my amazement, it’s the best thing that could have happened. They immediately started meeting other kids and making connections in our new town. It helped my husband and I, too, because we met the parents of their new friends.
- Schedule ahead. As soon as you know you’re moving, start making a checklist of all the little things you can set up ahead of time, such as scheduling cable and internet hookup, trash service and dog or cat licensing. Then take care of as much as you can before you move. When you get in your new home, your head is spinning as you unpack, cook and make sure the kids are OK. It really made a big difference that I had taken care of so many details ahead of time.
- Use that first-day adrenaline. Unpack as much as you possibly can the first day you move. Your adrenaline is still pumping and it's a great time to get a ton of work done. The next day, your "high" will have worn off and you'll be tired and feel like it's all too much work. The more you can do that first day, the better you will feel.
Here's what I wish I would have done:
- Pack the kitchen last. I got excited and packed the kitchen a couple of days too early. Then we were left eating out or having sandwiches for every meal.
- Plan out simple meals. Set out what you need to make simple homemade meals, or freeze easy homemade meals ahead of time so you can thaw, bake and eat them. We ended up having to eat out so many times our stomachs hurt.
- Ask for help. Better yet, when a friend asks how they can help, suggest they could bring you a homemade meal your last night in your old home. No matter how much you put off packing the kitchen and basic cooking supplies, that last night most things will likely be packed. A homemade meal would be a comforting touch.
Moving with kids is intense. Plan, prepare and pack as best you can, but give yourself grace when it doesn’t go the way you hoped it would. There will likely be things you wish you had done differently, but the good news is it will all be over shortly. Unpacking is way more fun than packing and once you are settled into your new home it will all be worth it.
Jenni DeWitt is married and has two sons, the youngest of whom battled childhood leukemia — and won. Jenni writes weekly for Momaha.com. She is the author of “Forty Days” and “Why Won’t God Talk to Me?” You can read more about Jenni here.
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