We moved into a new house about a month ago. The whole process from packing up our house and putting it on the market to selling it and moving into our new house took a little bit over a month. It was a whirlwind that we still feel like we are in the middle of! Moving with four kids is no joke… and I can’t even imagine moving with kids any younger than ours. Our move was local, so we didn’t switch schools and we don’t have to deal with moving to a new area. Just changing houses was enough for us!
While preparing to move, we talked with many of you about how to make the move work successfully with kids.
Today I’m going to share a few of the tips that we tried that resonated with us. I’m also going to share a few things we wish we had done… so you can learn from us!
Here are 16 of our best tips for moving to a new house with kids! These aren’t in any order of importance… just a brain dump so that I don’t forget them!
1. Say goodbye to your old home (and record it!)
Before we turned over the keys to our old house, we went and had a family trip to say our big goodbyes. Once it was emptied, we roamed the house and went from room to room talking about different memories that were made in each room. My husband videoed each kid talking in their room and sharing about it. I may have gotten a bit emotional at some point when I was telling the kids about where they learned to walk or where they sat when they got home from the hospital.
Our video wasn’t polished or fancy… in fact, my husband and I were arguing a bit because he focused more on details about the house and I wanted to focus on the memories… but both were covered and recorded. The video will never see the light of day, but is there for our family, to help us remember.
2. Create a familiar play space for your kids and set it up first!
One of my favorite spaces in our old house was our little playroom. In our new house, I set up our toy area of the playroom first. I put each toy and basket in the exact same place as it was in our old house. I also got out all of our favorite comfort books so that they were easily accessible for reading at any time. While we were unpacking the rest of the house, it was nice for my toddler and five year old to have a place to play and familiar toys to spend time with.
3. Set up the kid’s rooms right away (try to keep some things the same)
We heard this piece of advice again and again… and I wish we would’ve followed it, but it was tricky to do. If I had done a better job with planning, our kid’s new bunk beds would’ve arrived on time. Instead, the boys slept on cots in their room for the first week with toys and boxes everywhere! It was far from the comfy and organized look I was going for. Eventually we got the beds and bedding and my husband built in their closets and dressers… so now we are feeling a little bit more settled! We didn’t keep the kid’s rooms the same, because we moved them to bunk beds, so that’s been exciting, but has also been a change that has impacted bedtimes.
4. De-clutter and de-own before you pack AND unpack
Before we moved, I went through every single drawer and box and bucket in our house and de-cluttered and de-owned as much as humanly possible. I tried to envision where it would go in the new house or who could benefit from it if we gave it away. I took dozens of boxes and bags to our local Savers to make donations. Once we arrived in the new house, I’ve also been slowly going through each box (I am far from done at the moment!) and making sure to only keep things that we can actually use. I wish I had given away even more before we moved in!
You can donate clothes and toys to friends, local charities, family members, or even local preschools or churches that might need things.
When I am going through my stuff I try and remember Joshua Becker’s mantra, “There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in organizing more.” This is easier said than done sometimes, but definitely worth a shot. It feels so much better to have less stuff to manage and think about!
5. Find some part of your routine to keep the same, especially bedtime.
I learned this one the hard way. Once we moved, we often got so distracted working on projects, that we constantly put the kids to bed later than needed. This led to overtired kids (obviously), which led to me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Now that we’ve helped kids get adjusted to their new beds and rooms and we are starting bedtime earlier, things have calmed down significantly.
One thing I did every night when we moved in to our new house was take 30 minutes or so to watch a favorite TV show on Netflix and just relax. I watched a show that was familiar and comforting, because I needed that feeling after so much change in such a short period of time.
6. When you are packing, mark the boxes you’ll need ASAP with colored tape (daily dishes, kid’s bedding, favorite toys, items they need for sleeping, etc.)
This tip was really helpful as we were looking for toothbrushes and stuffed animals the first night we moved in. We managed to mark everything properly so that we found it all! Having little things like tooth brushes and favorite cups and stuffed animals helped the kids feel a bit more relaxed in our new space! Having the every day plastic dishes out of boxes and put away also helped me stay sane and not feel like the kids were constantly going through paper cups.
7. Have a little celebration in the new house (pizza party & Martinellis)!
Our sweet neighbors gave us some Martinellis sparkling apple cider when we moved. The first night we moved in, we ordered our favorite pizza and celebrated our new home with Martinellis toasts! It was simple, but clashing glasses and saying cheers and celebrating helped the kids get excited and miss their old home a little bit less.
8. Say goodbye/farewell for now to those you are leaving behind!
Speaking of our sweet neighbors, before we left we helped coordinate one last neighborhood get together to say goodbye to our friends! We will still see them (since we moved locally), but it won’t be the same. We had an ice cream sundae party and got a bunch of our favorite ice cream flavors and each neighbor brought their favorite topping. It was so easy and awesome. I made sure to take pictures of all of the kids together.
9. Invite people over (motivates you to unpack and helps kids start to feel normal in the new space)
Some people think I am crazy for this one, but inviting people over totally motivates me! Knowing people will be coming over helps me to unpack more and get things put away more quickly. We had a family pool party a day or two after we moved in and I got so much put away before that event. I continue to host events at least once a week in my home, to encourage myself to unpack and get more put away. Letting my kids invite a few friends over has also helped them feel more proud of our new house and also feel like things are starting to get back to normal.
10. Spend time outside and get to know the neighbors (take treats, get cell numbers, find out when they are home)
My husband is a genius with this one! While I unpack, he goes outside and chats with the neighbors while the kids ride their bikes. He got to know all of their names quickly and now we’re getting treats ready to take to them soon.
11. Meal plan and stock up on your favorite foods!
You will probably be DONE with eating pizza or eating out, so take a moment to meal plan. Have the kids each pick a simple favorite meal and go with it. On the weekend after we moved in, I let my kids each pick a day for the following week and be in charge of choosing the dinner meal. Once we moved in and I had unpacked the pots and pans, I let the kids help me plan out the dinner schedule. It was so much less stressful to know that I had meals in the cupboard that they liked. I had no energy for arguing.
12. Accept help from friends! So hard but so necessary when you feel totally overwhelmed.
We were so fortunate to have friends bring us treats and dinner and offer to give our kids rides places. I am still way behind on sending thank you cards and emails, but they were angels! I have a really hard time accepting help, but I am trying to be better about it, because sometimes it is necessary. I probably should’ve let friends who offered take my kids to the park or have them over for playdates, but I am always worried that I am overburdening people, so I have a hard time saying yes. Saying yes to a treat is much easier for me.
13. Try and say NO and clear your schedule for a week or two (and don’t schedule anything else super stressful… like getting your wisdom teeth out! LOL. Spoken from experience.)
Sometimes the most important thing you can do is say NO. This is really hard… and not really a word in my vocabulary, but sometimes you could just not volunteer? There were a few school events that I just glossed over and just excused myself from participating.
14. I’d also recommend saying NO to stressful events, like getting your wisdom teeth out. I got mine out a week after we moved into our new house. It needed to happen, but it was such bad timing! I was already feeling overwhelmed and then I added a whole new layer to it by also being heavily medicated and unable to eat anything good.
15. Be creative with the cardboard boxes!
Our kids have been making all sorts of crazy contraptions with their boxes. I love them! We have several more things to make pinned on Pinterest. There are so many amazing ideas out there!
16. Be KIND to yourself.
If you do anything, DO THIS. This is hard to do… especially when you have a growing list of things you “have to do” in your brain. Be kind to yourself. We you decide to pull out the paper plates and order pizza for the third time this week, go with it. Help yourself to recognize that this is a BIG THING you did and you need to take a moment to process it. Take time to go out with friends or your spouse or take a break from unpacking to do something fun for your kids (and you!). If you find that your tolerance level for kids is diminishing, don’t feel bad about turning on the TV and letting the kids watch a show or two while you clean closets or empty boxes. Give yourself a break and remind yourself that you’ll get back in a groove at some point… but for now it is ok to be in survival mode!
Alright, now that I’ve shared my 16 best tips for moving to a new house with kids, tell me yours! What did I miss that you found to be important?
If you’ve moved across the country or a further distance than just locally… what other tips do you have?