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5 Top Moving Tips with Kids

Updated on November 3, 2010

I've had the misfortune of moving too many times. Fortunately in these difficult times it's not due to the economy but rather a noisy neighbor or a flooding bathroom upstairs to name a few of the unforeseen events. These were not petty issues: in one case we had brown walls and our wood floors had buckled from the water that had pooled in our 18th floor apartment at 3:30 in the morning. In another, we had water rushing from the bathtub that was incorrectly installed on (our) 3rd floor (rented townhouse) down to our living room on the 1st floor and we can only be grateful for surge protectors that no one was electrocuted! Our moves from gorgeous apartments were done in haste with a sprinkle of fear. While I'd like to think I've learned something about real estate, I can't be sure, but I have learned some things about moving that I can share with you.

First - I have kids and animals, so their safety, both physical and emotional is my first priority. I don't need to put that on my list but every reader knows that everyone's safety and sense of well-being comes comes first.

Here are my top 5 tips and I hope you find them useful:

1. When To Move: I've moved at nearly every time of the year but the best time of all, even though it's often busy for movers, is the summertime. Your kids have time to pack, unpack and customize their new "space". If you're lucky, they might be away for the move itself, you have time to get the billing and start-dates for the cable and electric, etc. set up while they're finishing school, and they have time to settle in before the new school year begins.

2. Prepare for your Move:

You have many things you don't need - you haven't worn things, your kids have outgrown clothes, haven't worn them, etc. What can you give away? Is this a time you can donate to charities or give to those you know? Teach your kids about donating? If you're having financial problems, what about a garage sale or setting up an online selling account and start selling things you don't use? This preparation time is a wonderful time to sort through your things and start organizing and "decluttering". It helps you start over - whether you need to or not!

Make a list and change addresses on accounts: USPS, credit cards, phone bills/service, utilities, etc. The list will help you keep track in case you forget anything such as a medical specialist you see every six months. Do this with an overlap so that when you move out, you have lights and whatever else you deem essential and where you are going will have it when you get there. If you want TV service for example, you may need to have a cable technician come that same day. Set up appointments in advance.

3. Get Everyone Involved:

If you're reading this, maybe you're the one doing all the work. Don't carry the whole burden, share it! Everyone can pack their own box, number it, and write on it or, if too young, place a sticker. The sticker can be a favorite design (a ballerina, a frog) to indicate possession. I also suggest taking photos of the box prior to sealing it so you can remember what's in each box. Then tape it to the box or keep the digital photo and label the photo with the box number. If you're a control-freak, STOP! let them handle a little mess before you jump in. For example, suggest they test some pens before they pack them, do they need to pack pencils if their erasers are gone, what about those notebooks from 4 years ago? Do they still want those dolls/trucks, or would another child like them? Prompt their thoughts as they pack. If that doesn't work, make out a list of what they should pack. Then you can filter through the rest with them.

Your #1 job: pack the following in Clearly Marked Suitcases: toiletries and towels and toilet paper for everyone; clean sheets for every bed along with pajamas and clean underwear. In a different shaped bag, perhaps a duffel, prepare your immediately necessary cleansers - you'll know what you'll need depending on the move - maybe it's a bathroom cleanser (Comet, Tilex, etc.), maybe you need Lysol or Febreze. Whatever you think is necessary for your family, take it and make sure it's handy along with a sponge and paper towels. Likewise with a refrigerator bag. Pack some favorites or stock up there in advance if you can; in other words, plan ahead.

4. Stay Calm on Moving Day: This day will start early so get up and have a good breakfast, you will need it! If you have animals, I highly recommend leaving them with a friend or boarding them as it's very hectic and you don't want anyone running away. You've got a boatload of things to watch as it is. If you're as prepared as possible, go out for a quick breakfast at a nearby restaurant - if not, the more likely scenario, then pick up something and bring it back. You will not have time to do dishes so while going out may seem extravagant in terms of time, would you rather deal with the mess or run out for a quick bite and escape the boxes for 30 minutes? Everyone's happy with some orange juice and bagels or something they're never allowed to eat. Today's ok for a combination of something nutritious and a special treat to keep everyone happy. I would recommend holding on to that special snack and doling it out in bits as the day drags on into the evening.

Remember to have lunch! The movers will; if they have lunch in shifts then take turns too. Just make sure that everyone gets a chance to sit down for 30 minutes or so, eat and relax a bit. Set some rules so you can keep track of everyone and ask for help from a friend if you need to - maybe just for company.

Remember also that the kids need to say goodbye and you need to double-check before you finalize your departure, so it's a busy day all over the place. At the old place and at the new home. Find the balance that will work best for you so you don't lose your patience too often. Make sure the kids are holding their favorite items - I don't care how big that special "something" is - if something is lost, it's your fault! If it's important, they'll secure it and find that special something a new spot in the new home. You're doing enough already.

5. Find Fun on Moving Night: It's not over 'til it's over and you'd be surprised how long this will take. No one will go to bed on time so don't get upset. Start unpacking as soon as possible. First take care of the refrigerated items. 2nd, start cleaning what you can - whatever you know the movers aren't going to touch right after you've disinfected it. Find the suitcases you prepared with the toiletries, towels, etc. and start preparing. You may not have shower curtains (maybe you have shower doors), but you can get clean and get a good night's sleep once the beds are made.

Finally, remember to relax a little with everyone. This is your new home. Start off right. Order in or pick up your first meal and order a movie. Set a small but achievable goal for that first night. For example, having a good dinner, a good night's sleep in your own bed. Maybe you also want to hang a family photo. or unpack the breakfast dishes. Maybe you'll do more than that. Just remember you'll all be tired and need a break.

This list is long and yet I've only touched upon the chaos of a move. I hope your move is a success and you stay for as long as you like.

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