Everybody knows moving’s a horror. But when you’re moving with kids, the horror multiplies. Not only are you juggling the logistics of boxes and beds, you’ve now got the psychological well-being of your big-eyed cutie pies to consider. (Hey, no pressure!)
Boxing Boo-Boo Bear
How do you explain to your one and four-year-olds that they need to lock their precious stuffed animals into cardboard boxes? That men are coming to carry them away? That they need to say goodbye to their rooms, their old life? Yikes. Our answer: Straight up, with some extra lovin’ that included play-acting, lots of ‘helping’ and props.
Finding the New Normal
‘Kids are nothing if not flexible.’ That’s my mantra for trying times, or when I feel my momma skills aren’t at their peak. Let’s just say I said that mantra a lot during our move. Crushing deadlines and dealing with the unexpected are givens, but throw into the mix the need for my two girls to participate and ‘help’ (cough-cough)? S-t-r-e-s-s!
So, to deal, I set up a loose moving plan. Some of it worked, plenty didn’t. Here’s what worked:
- Books. There are loads of great books to help kids understand the concept of moving. In a fit of parental guilt, I think I bought most of them. The kids gave four stars to: Boomer’s Big Day and Moving House. We started reading these months before we moved. You know, about a thousand times each.
- Talking. I was a one-woman PR machine, touting the good stuff that would happen with the move. The only stuff they cared about? What new animals would live in the yard and the color of their bedrooms. Lesson learned.
- Stickers. When it came time to pack up their stuff, I tripled the time I thought I’d need and had the girls pitch in. They made “beds” inside the boxes for the stuffed animals to sleep in, and decorated the boxes with loads of stickers so they could track them during the move. Meanwhile, I was able to pack without stopping every two minutes. Ka-ching!
- Saying Goodbye. Like the world’s lamest version of Goodnight, Moon, we gave the kids some extra time to see the old house empty and say goodbye. “GOODBYE ROOM.” “GOODBYE REFRIGERATOR.” “GOODBYE LIGHT SWITCH.”
- Habitrails. First thing in the new house, I made the kids’ beds. This calmed them right down, because they could see their spaces. Then, despite desperately wanting to unpack and get settled, I took the time and a bunch of empty boxes and together we built a huge maze. I added some blankets and pillows, a DVD player and a few toys, and guess where they spent all of their time while we unpacked? I know, I know: I’m a genius! Downside: The maze is still in our living room.
- Prepare for Tantrums. I had to accept that all of the preparation in the world wasn’t going to change the fact that the kids would freak out. And boy, did they. We dealt with a couple of doozy tantrums, some bad cases of The Cling-ons (relentless requests for attention and cuddle-time), and they slept in our bed for a couple of nights. Not too bad, overall.
While I shudder to think of how things might’ve been had we not prepped for it, I don’t think there was any permanent damage to their little psyches: After all, kids are nothing if not flexible.
What about you? Any memorable moments during your move with kids? Do tell!
Tamara Tuttle is a writer, photographer and professional insomniac who never thought she’d have kids, but did anyway. Twice.