From Our Blog: Helping Children Cope with Moving: 5 Tips for Moving with Kids

Mom and preschool son talking about the family move

Today's post comes from Bright Horizons Director of Digital Marketing, Allison Query.

My husband and I had been considering a move for about six months before we introduced the idea to our 4-year-old son. We wanted to be sure that we were going to be able to find a new house that would mean moving closer to family, keep us close to my son’s preschool, and give us the extra space we needed indoors and out. After getting advice from friends who had been through this before and getting through the moving process with my family, here’s what we found to be successful for moving with kids:

5 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Moving

1. Take the time to explain what happens when you move.

Since this was my son’s first time through the process, I took the time to talk about the things that would be packed onto the moving truck, like his toys, favorite blanket, and scooter. I made sure that he knew that Mom and Dad were going too and that his grandparents would still be able to visit. We talked about what would not be coming with us, like the closet doors and bathtub. Once we had the moving boxes of different shapes and sizes set up, it really helped my son picture how things would get to the new house and how much work it was going to be to get all of our stuff ready to go.

2. Let kids help with the packing and unpacking.

I got a bunch of big blue bins and told my son that any toys going to the new house needed to be in those. I explained that the bins were the best way to be sure our movers would know where the toys were packed so that we’d be able to find them easily once we got to the new house. My husband and I agreed that there was no need to put the lids on the containers until just before moving day, so that my son could play with the toys and I could still be sure we had planned for enough containers to get everything packed up.

3. Plan some downtime to enjoy as a family.

Moving takes so much effort and energy and it’s easy to feel like every available minute needs to go towards packing up. I found it much easier to keep us on task and excited about moving if we started our Saturdays by saying, “If we can take three hours to pack after breakfast, we can take a picnic lunch to the playground after that.” Being able to take a break together kept us from getting burned out and irritable, even when our stress levels were high, especially as we got closer to our moving date.

4. Keep the mood positive when discussing the move.

While I was helping my son pack his stuff, I kept him chatting about the fun we would have after the move. It really helps him adjust to new ideas when I’m enthusiastic about them. For example, we talked about how fun it would be to bring his scooter out to our new yard, and that we could have our birthday parties in the new house since we’d be done and unpacked before then. He had a lot of ideas and was more comfortable asking questions the more we talked about how great things would be once the hard work of moving was done.

5. Be safe before, during, and after the move.

Moving can create some new safety issues. We had boxes stacked where they normally wouldn’t be. Any leftover baby-proofing had been removed and we were pulling down items that were usually kept high out of reach. Even the sharp edge of the tape gun could cause injury in the hands of a preschooler. No matter how tired my husband and I were on the nights we stayed up late to pack, we still had to walk through the rooms to be sure we left everything safe for the next day.

Looking Back on the Move

Moving day is now behind us and we’re settled into our new space. All three of us put in a lot of hard work, so the last thing on my list for a successful move is this: say “thank you.” I told my son how much I appreciated his help packing and unpacking. I thanked my husband for handling the movers and dealing with the heavy boxes. We had to work together to make the move happen, and I’m really proud that my preschooler was able to help.

More on Moving and Navigating Change with Kids

  • Relocating is stressful enough as it is, but moving with a baby adds a new level of complexity. Here’s how to make the process easier on the whole family.
  • Discover tips for moving with children, transitioning to a new school, and staying connected to friends.
  • Learn how you can help your child cope with the big and small changes in life.
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About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Mom and preschool son talking about the family move