Moving can be an exciting but tumultuous time, especially when you are the parent of kids. Children can bring lots of energy and adventure moving day. You know your kids best and what tasks will be helpful to you but not so hard for them to do that they lose interest in the project at hand. Conversely, if they’re not given enough to do, they can distract you from what needs to be done. Harness some of your kids’ creative energy with five easy ways to have fun getting your kids involved with moving day.
1. Encourage them to pack their own bag of essentials.
Whatever is must-have for your children, have them pack those items in a special suitcase, duffel bag or overnight bag. That way, each child is secure that his or her important items are going with you. This can be anything from a special blankie or stuffed animal to some favorite toys such as legos, dolls or books. Tossing in a set of pajamas, underwear, toothbrush, and toothpaste doesn’t hurt, either.
2. Let them help pack, label and decorate boxes.
Toddlers and above can help decorate a box with colorful stickers and drawings. Older kids may even be able to pack up items, along with labeling, taping them up and taking them to the moving truck. If little ones tire of stickers and markers, pushing boxes or playing inside empty ones can make for an exciting few hours. I’ve seen boxes become airplanes, trains, castles, forts, boats, submarines and more with a little imagination.
3. “Hire” them as part of the cleaning crew.
Whether you pay in dollars or something else of your choice (small toy, going out for ice cream, etc.), there’s something about motivation that helps everyone pull together a bit better. While smaller children can help wipe baseboards, lower cupboards and furniture to be moved, bigger kids can assist by cleaning windows and screens, dusting furniture and moldings, doing touch-up painting and wiping out closets, cabinets and cupboards.
4. Live large and do the unexpected.
You may realize how much room you have once everything is cleared out, so think about using that extra space to your advantage. Have a dance party, wrestling match or game of chase in the great room during a packing break. Once bed frames are taken down, use the mattresses as trampolines. Have an indoor family camp-out in the living room the last few nights in your old place or the first few nights in your new place.
5. Allow kids to help with sorting, organizing and putting away things in your new home.
Of course, having children help set up their rooms after a move can give them a sense of belonging in their new home. They can put their toys away, place books on bookshelves and possibly help put clothing in drawers, depending on their ages. Capitalize on the “team spirit” you’ve built up during moving by allowing kids to organize the silverware drawer, wipe down windowsills or make a craft project for the new home.
Gina M. Geremia, PhD, clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University is a strong proponent of children being involved in the adventure of moving. She says, “Encourage children to participate in putting things in their new places. This reduces stress because not only will children know where their things are, but they will also feel that they are an important part of the process.”