Monday, January 21, 2013

20 Tips for Packing to Move with Kiddos

As a mama who has moved across the continent with two little ones... And is currently packing for our fourth move in five years, this time back across the continent, I know a wee something about packing up a house with little people scurrying round the trimmings and trappings of moving. 

Here are a few little things I have done along the way to make the process a bit easier for the whole family.

1. Do a purge of toys and games a few months before the big move if possible. During the packing period they are going to be worried about things disappearing... This is not the ideal time for a major clean out.  Ask them if they have any friends who would like their old toys? Talk about how donating things to the thrift shop helps charities earn money so they can help people in need.

There will be things that go while packing but weeding out ahead of time really does help.

2. If they are having trouble letting go of things that really need to go offer to take a picture. Make a "memory file" for them on the computer.

3. Take pictures of things they need to deconstruct, like original LEGO creations. If they want to put them back together after the move take more detailed pics and pack each creation in its own Ziploc baggy. A big fuss I know, but very comforting to a child facing a lot of change!

4. Let them decorate "their" boxes with colorful markers.

5. An old mama trick... hide some well loved toys away to bring out that last week or two of packing. Old things become new and very entertaining when they have not seen them in awhile.

6. Give them the video camera and let them document the packing process and some of their favorite stomping grounds.

7. Give them jobs like wrapping coins. You know... the ones you have in jars on top of the file cabinet. Money is dirty so make sure they wash up really well afterward. A "keep what you roll" policy is highly motivating. If you have more than one child rolling it would not be fair for the one rolling pennies so you can also turn it all in and spilt the funds between them. This job can keep them busy for quite some time while they work on their math and money skills. Bonus!

8. Give them a travel bag or backpack to fill. As they pack have them put little favorite things in that they want to have during the transition. Once it is full that is it! Something must come out... Choices have to be made.

9.Workbooks. This is a great time for new workbooks they can work on independently while mama does some packing. Sticker books are great for older kids... Younger kids might need help with getting some of those pesky stickers out... that is okay too. See it as time for a quick connect while you are distracted with packing.

10. Keep some routines the same. For example, take time to sit together for meals... Even if it is another round of scrambled eggs on paper plates for dinner. It is a time to connect when things are busy. This is a good time to ask questions about what they are excited or worried about. Keep communication open about hopes and fears.

11. Pack art supplies last (markers, color pencils, crayons, plain white paper) Keep it simple. This means they will also be the first things to unpack... Helpful on the other side of the move.

12. Let them Skype with a relative while you get some things done. My mom is the most awesome online babysitter ever!

13. Take friends up on their offer to have a play date while you get some things done. It is a great chance for the kids to see friends before they move away... and be in a familiar house that is not stripped of pictures and full of boxes!

14. Speaking of pictures... Try to take down family pictures and artwork at the very last moment possible. Nothing makes a house look bare like taking the pictures off the walls. While some of the small ones inevitably get packing into small boxes along the way I try to keep some of the bigger art up for as long as possible.

15. Give them packing supplies to play with. Bubble wrap to pop and brown paper wrapping to draw really big pictures can be great fun. If you can sacrifice a few boxes for a box house or town you will have some very happy little people.

16. Let them cut up old magazines to make collages with the pictures or use the words and letters they find to decorate their very own travel journal for the trip ahead.

17. Get outside with your kiddos to play. No you are not going to get any boxes packed during this time but taking the time to connect with your kids and get some fresh air will be well worth it... Even if it is just 15 min.

18. Listen to stories on CD, Story Nory, or Sparkle Stories. Give the kids art supplies to draw while they listen.

19. Take it me for yourself to create, connect, and relax. Make something totally unrelated to the move or at least sketch up your plans... have coffee with a friend, take a long candlelit bath. Get some sleep! 

20. And the most obvious that we sometimes miss... Let them help you pack! Learning to wrap a jar, crinkle up newspaper just right for padding, swaddle a vase in bubble wrap... are all valuable skills they will need to know when they meet that special guy and come home from Vegas married. Or join the traveling circus... well okay, they will just need a duffel bag for the circus gig, but you get the idea. They will love being helpful and it will be great for them to see that all the little things that make up HOME are coming to their new home.

Do you have any tips to add? Please do share in the comments!


  1. I love your points about documenting the past--photographing the Lego creations--and the process (the filming, the journalling).

    1. Thank you Jane... and thanks for stopping by the blog!

  2. i am hoping that someday very, very soon i can put your tips to good use!

  3. great tips. i think that have food and water is good. i get grouchy when traveling if i don't have it. one tip, no rushing. stop if you have or need to.

    1. Yes. Food and goin' slow are essential! Thanks Keishua!

  4. Thank you so much Dawn! We've been having a lot of trouble with not wanting to let things go. Fortunately it's okay if all my stuff goes. It's just the kids stuff that get emotional.

    I'm having trouble with my books. So many good ones. And what about baby books? Hard to figure out what to let go of what to keep in storage.

    1. Little man had the hard time with Lego. Maybe they would feel better if they decorated a *small* special "save it" box for storage?
      Books are hard. I have been donating to the libary here. Maybe you have some friends who would like to watch over a few for you... And use them while you are gone... Just write your name or put a bookplate in them.

  5. Thanks for your great tips, Dawn! Packing is never easy, but with full cooperation, the task will not be a burden. The only advice I can give is to make a list and sort out your stuff. Moving is the time when you have to say goodbye to unnecessary stuff that's been haunting you for some years. Always choose to move light to decrease your worries.

  6. Number each box and note its exact contents as well as the room it’s destined for in your new home. Make a full list of the numbers and contents of the moving boxes, which will allow you to quickly check that everything has arrived safely.

  7. The best way to packing to house move with kids is that involve your children in the move, including packing and preparation. Let your children carry a few light packing boxes out to the truck and help you wrap plates in newspaper, or pack a box of books.