Moving With Kids: Four Packing Challenges and Their Solutions
When you decide to move your family to a new home, you take on the task of packing up your household. And sometimes it’s the packing that can cause the most stress and anxiety especially when you’re moving with kids. It’s not easy for a child to see their home dismantled in front of them, and sometimes their emotional transition can trump what makes the most packing sense.
When we moved our family of four into a smaller home with less storage, we had a lot of downsizing to do. I was worried that my kids would revolt, and I would be too big of a softie letting them pack things we no longer wanted or needed to spare their feelings. But I knew that it did not make sense to pay to have things moved that we no longer loved. Here are a few of the challenges we faced when packing up our home and how we were able to involve our kids in the packing process.
CHALLENGE: KIDS GET ATTACHED TO THEIR STUFF – Even though we had been pretty good about weeding out idle toys and books, we still had a good amount of stuff like art projects, random small toys, and collectables to sort through. I was worried that every item would be a huge debate ending with a lot of frustration and dislike for packing and our move.
SOLUTION: LET THEM CHOOSE – It’s hard to explain curation to a first grader, but not impossible. We gave each of our sons one special box (on the smallish side, think shoe box) to pack their most treasured items. This Treasure Bin housed sea glass collections, favorite drawings, notes, cards, and other things important to them. But once the box was full, that was it. Choices had to be made, but they were their choices.
CHALLENGE: KIDS THINK THEY’RE HELPING BUT THEY’RE NOT – My two boys were six and seven at the time of our move and in pretty good spirits considering we were moving to a completely new city. My husband had already started commuting to his new job so my sons and I were in charge of packing. If they were left underfoot wandering aimlessly asking a lot of questions, it became an exercise in frustration.
SOLUTION: GIVE THEM A JOB – Once I started delegating more, I was surprised at the amount of work my kids would take on if asked. They toted, assembled, taped (with help), and labeled boxes. They boxed books, linens, clothes, games and other unbreakable items. They couldn’t do it for hours on end. But they were willing and able to help more than I would have expected.
CHALLENGE: KIDS LIKE TO DISPLAY THEIR PRIZED POSSESSIONS – Every shelf and surface of my kids’ room was covered with their most valuable items: their collection of assembled Lego sets. While impressive, we were selling our house and needed the Legos corralled and off of every surface.
SOLUTION: GIVE THEM A CHALLENGE – When we treated the packing and transporting of the Legos across multiple states as a problem to be solved, they jumped at the chance to come up with a solution. They had good ideas (supplemented with some internet research) that we used to come up with a system. All Lego sets made it fully intact.*
CHALLENGE: KIDS CAN RESIST CHANGE – If my kids entered a partially packed space where I had packed their things without their input, we would have to start from the beginning going through every items. Packing could feel like Groundhog Day – didn’t we do this already?
SOLUTION: LET THEM CHOOSE – The system that we found worked best is if I pre-sorted things into piles, and they made the final choice of what to bring vs. leave behind. They got to feel in control, and I got to go back to packing everything once instead of twice. Getting their buy-in made them feel more a part of the process instead of just being dragged along for the ride.
*LEGO PACKING HACK – We wrapped each set in a plastic bag so that if it did break pieces would be contained. Each set went into its own box surrounded by recyclable peanuts. Then those boxes went into a bigger box, also insulated with pack- ing material.
There are dozens of moving check lists out there, but sometimes you need more than a check list.
With Good Move, you can mindfully design a move for your family that overcomes the uncertainty, the overwhelm, and the unfamiliar that moving brings. You get:
Strategy for designing a move that works for your family
The real experiences of families that have relocated
Practical insight into the physical and emotional transitions you’re facing
The assurance that you’re well-informed and prepared
Good Move is available in paperback and ebook at…