Having moved several times, we like to consider ourselves experts and then that all changed when we had a child. Planning a move, packing, and trying to get out the door is like a game of survival with a toddler running around. Far more difficult than we ever imagined and with no help from family.
Creating an adventure or tasks for your kids is key to keeping your sanity...I promise! Give them a box or two to start packing their items. Give them markers to draw on a box here and there. Create a fort with boxes and tell them not to come out until you are finished with the next two boxes of dishes that need to be done. Otherwise, they will be pulling at your leg and getting tangled in the packing tape!
Here the top 5 things that will make the process go a bit smoother:
1. Please ask for help or hire a babysitter as often as possible! If friends offer to come entertain your kids for a couple of hours, let them. You'll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a two hour span of uninterrupted packing bliss.
2. Give the kids tasks. Have them pack their stuffed animals and blankets. If you have to repack it all later it's no big deal. Don't give them a sharpie and let them run wild, but find ways to keep them busy and away from the heaping pile of boxes and packing paper you are trying to manage.
3. Label and organize. Moving is always a perfect time to de-clutter, donate, and throw out unused or damaged items. Designate boxes for items to be donated and since you have kids, save yourself the hassle and schedule a charity to come to your house and pick up the items vs. you driving to somewhere to drop the items off. If you have furniture pieces that you don't see using in your new home, consider having them sold at a resale shop. You will get a percentage of the sale and they will typically cut you a check when the pieces are sold. Try to de-clutter at night when the kids are asleep and you can think more clearly. Sort through the kids toys and art projects and decide what you want to keep and what you want to donate. Try to organize like things together and label the boxes with as much detail as possible. The unpacking process will be way easier if you can accomplish this!
4. Nothing is worse than a hungry child, so don't stop buying groceries altogether. After days of non stop packing, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking, but it's much easier than trying to get yourself all cleaned up and presentable to go out in public and dine at a restaurant. Don't forget to eat in the midst of all that you have going on. The last time we moved I forgot to eat lunch twice, and by the evening I was so exhausted and starving and simply not pleasant to be around!
5. Don't underestimate the emotional energy it will take to move. It doesn't matter if you're moving three blocks away or across the country, it can get rather emotional. The further away you move the more things you have to do ahead of time. Try to do your research to find the right daycare, pre-school, and doctor for your kids ahead of time. Many daycares and pre-schools have waiting lists. There is the excitement of a new home and neighborhood and the sadness from goodbyes to neighbors you've loved like family over the years. Moving is the third most stressful thing you will do in life and it can feel even more stress with small children, so don't forget to have that family time and regroup with one another. This too shall pass!!