The Big Move: How to Make Moving Day Less Stressful

April 30, 2015

We offer you a few helpful hints on getting kids ready for the big move—all while eliminating stress and strengthening family bonds.

There’s no getting around it. Moving day is stressful, especially when children are involved. Between boxes and bottles there’s much to take into consideration, but thankfully there’s also a lot you can do to make your life easier when it comes time for the big day. Communicating with your family about exactly what and why is happening in advance can make a world of difference, while involving kids in the process can help take away some of the uncertainty and anxiety they may feel. Here’s what you can to make moving day less stressful and more fun, by building positive anticipation, working together, and making the move a family affair.

Set the scene

Order a pizza from your family’s favourite pizza joint and call everyone to the table. It’s time to tell the kids that a big change is coming—and why. Did you get a new job? Is it to be closer to family? Is it to provide better opportunities for them? Is it for a larger house with a big backyard? Is it to own rather than rent?

It’s important to give kids as much time as possible to process the information. Moving can be hard on them, especially when they’re moving to a new environment—whether it’s to a new school or a completely different town. Depending on how old they are, they’re likely to be scared and confused. Make them feel at ease by being open and honest with them. Ask them if they have any questions and what you can do to help them understand. But also let them know you’re going to need their help too. Tell them some of the things you’re going to do as a family, such as packing things into boxes together.

Build anticipation

If your kids are older, why not let them have a say in the new home. Once you’ve narrowed down your top picks, get their feedback. Show them photos of the new places, tell them about the new neighbourhoods, and ask them to share their favourite things about each house. Once you’ve decided as a family, do something together to celebrate this new stage in your lives.

Giving kids something to look forward to can make moving more immediately rewarding. Let them know about some of the things you’ll do when you get there. If you’re staying in the same town, consider driving by their new school to show them where they’ll be going. Ask them what they’d like their new room to look like and perhaps let them pick out a new paint colour. If they’re teenagers, consider giving them a budget to get some new things for their new room such as rugs, desks, posters or bedding.

Consider hosting a “see you soon” party

Kids are not necessarily going to understand why you’re asking them to leave their friends, but you can help make them feel better about it by hosting a party to help them say “see you soon” with one last hurrah. A fun idea is to give them a disposable camera (or provide them with access to a digital one) so they can take lots of pictures and have keepsakes to remember their friends by. Tell them when you move to your new home you’ll go to a lab to get the photos developed together. If you get doubles, they can mail copies to their friends with your new address on it. Make sure you child gets everyone’s contact information before the party is over so it’s easier for them to stay in touch.

Have a packing party

Kids like events, so get them excited about moving by framing it as a packing party. This might be another opportunity to order take out (always a win with kids). Start with their room. You’re going to want to encourage them to pack up toys they won’t use right away and get rid of or donate things they don’t want/need anymore. Perhaps your family is considering having a moving sale. Get kids involved by helping them select and price their own items. Perhaps any money raised can go to a new family purchase, a day out, or maybe even a new puppy.

Give them a box they can put their favourite things in, but don’t close this box up until moving day—otherwise you’ve going to have a bunch of grumpy and bored kids on your hands. Help them label things so both you and they know where to find things. If they’re too young for this, you’re going to have to do this yourself. Be specific when you’re labelling boxes so that when your child decides they need something right away you’ll know exactly where to find it.

Leave some things for them to take with them on moving day. Their favourite game or colouring books, for example, or that stuffed animal that provides them that much needed comfort. This will help to keep them busy and happy.

Hire help

You need to pack too. If you can, hire a babysitter to keep the kids occupied, or drop your kids off with a family member or friend so you can dedicate a day to getting things done. It’s a good idea to do this on moving day as well. Having people around to help you with the kids while you also tend to the matters of moving can make a huge difference on your stress levels.

Make moving day a group event and invite friends and family over to help you on your big day. The kids will feel more at ease with friendly and familiar faces around and you’ll have more help available to share the child watching duties. If this is not an option for you, consider hiring a moving company to make the job faster and easier. Spend a few hours prior to this reading reviews and getting recommendations from trusted sources before hiring a moving company.

Map it out

When moving day finally arrives, map the route out on a GPS system so kids can follow along. This will help make the trip go by faster and keep them occupied in the car, all while building excitement for arriving at your new home.

Be a tourist

Once you’ve moved to your new home and are somewhat settled in, consider being a tourist in your new town. Take the kids and go check out what the new place has to offer. Plan with your kids in advance some places you’ll visit and then set a date on the calendar to go see them. If they’ve met any new companions by this point, let them know they can invite a friend to come along. This is a great way for you and your child to get to know your town a little better while also helping to strengthen new friendships and family bonds.

If all else fails, breathe

Perhaps it’s the simplest advice of all, but if moving day starts to stress you out at any point, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Slowing down your breathing even for a few seconds is a known stress reliever and provides you with enough time to regain your bearings. Remember to take your time. If things take longer than planned or don’t go as smoothly it’s okay. Moving is a journey, an adventure, and it can be bumpy just like life. But with communication, teamwork, and proper preparation, it can also be a smooth and deeply cathartic experience for everyone.

Now that you’re settled, it’s time to tackle your new mortgage. Here are some helpful articles to get you on your way:

6 Easy Tips to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster
Mortgage Loan Insurance 101