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12 steps to moving homes like pros

Thinking about relocating?  Well, you’re not alone.  Each year, roughly 40 million Americans move homes. Wherever headed, relocation can be a big adjustment for all family members—especially children.

Skip the hassle and consider the following tips to make your move as smooth as possible, particularly for your kids.

Before and During the Move

1. Create a clear packing plan

You may not want to pack things away only to have to find them in a hurry because you forgot your child needed these items for school. Yet, you certainly can’t leave all your packing undone until the day of your move.

To avoid packing pandemonium, make a clear packing plan. Include a timeline for packing certain rooms or items, outline where you think certain things will go in your new home, and note anything else that will keep you organized during a move. Print out your plan and keep a pen handy so you can cross off or add items as you go.

2. Set up a box organization system

A smooth move depends on organized packing, especially when you have kids who want to get settled into their new home as quickly as possible. Here are some tips to keep boxes organized.

  • Label the box with where the contents will go in your new home.
  • Mark boxes that need to be unpacked right away (e.g., High Priority).
  • Number your boxes (e.g., Kitchen – 3 of 8).

Whatever method you pick, it will be best to figure it out before you start filling boxes. It will be hard to be consistent if you’re left doing it on the fly.

3. Buy (or collect) packing supplies

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the cost for moving within state can average just over $1,000, and an out-of-state move can cost over $5,500 on average. Buying a full assortment of packing supplies can be an expensive part of that, so if your family is on a tight budget, get a little creative.

Ask local stores for spare cardboard boxes, or collect them on your own from online shopping. Use spare towels and blankets to protect furniture. Spare diapers can also protect fragile items while moving. A little resourcefulness and ingenuity could, in fact, save your family a lot of money.

4. Get safety scissors and erasable markers

Kids are much more likely to be excited about the move if they are allowed to help and feel like they are contributing in some way. Assign them a job, or let them decorate their boxes with stickers or drawings that can creatively help identify the packed items.

5. “Hire” Photographers

A simple camera can help kids capture precious memories throughout this big change. Give them a camera and invite them to become a photographer for the day.  Ask them to take pictures of their room, home, friends, and anything else they may want to remember. Having something positive to focus on will help your children feel less nervous about the changes ahead.

6. Arrange new home essentials

Be sure to have your utilities set up before you move into the new place, including internet and home security. That way, during the hectic move-in day, you won’t have to gobble up your data entertaining the kids, or worry what might happen in the event of an emergency. That latter bit is especially important—almost 75% of burglaries are residential, and when you’ve spent the whole day with your belongings on parade as they’re coming off the truck, it’s doubly important to have a security system ready to go your first night in the new place. 

7. Hire moving help

Before giving into the temptation to pinch too many pennies when moving, remember that hiring moving help can make your move much easier, particularly with young children. You can use online tools to get quotes for reliable moving services. With the right deal, movers might be well worth the money.

8. Make an “open first” box

On move-in day, you will want to have all the essentials nearby, so you can make sure the kids are comfortable, fed, bathed, and clothed—without rummaging through multiple boxes. Use a suitcase or box as an “open first” box with all the essential “must have” items you and your family will need for the first few days in your new home.

9. Hire a cleaning service

Deep cleaning an entire house can be daunting. Do yourself a favor and hire professional cleaners to help clean the house, the carpets, the HVAC ducts, and any easily forgotten nooks and crannies. It’ll be much easier than trying to convince your tired and cranky kiddos to grab a broom after a long day of moving and unpacking.

After The Move

10. Search for preschools and playgroups in your new neighborhood

Even if you are unfamiliar with your new neighborhood, you can still find childcare to help you while you settle into your new home or head back to work. Using websites like GreatSchools.org or Nextdoor.com can help you search for a daycare nearby, find a sitter to watch the kids while you unpack, or contact neighbors with children who want to start a playgroup.

11. Use prepared meals or meal services while you get settled

Don’t hesitate to stock up on frozen meals to eat for the few weeks after a move, or use a meal service to make cooking easy.  This short-term strategy will keep the dishes clean and kids fed so you can adjust with ease.

12. Reward kids for unpacking

Make sure that moving into your new home is a fun, positive experience for your children. Within the first few days after moving, take the kids out to a movie or for bowling, or take them shopping and let each of them purchase something special for their new room. Simple activities like these can help kids unwind during the process of unpacking. It can also help them feel more settled and less anxious about being in a new, unfamiliar environment.

Moving can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Following these simple tips will help your family have a stress-free moving experience, so you can focus on the important things – like settling into your new home ready to create lasting memories.

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