As we near the end of January, which in my book is the longest month of the year, it is hard to imagine the nice warm days that spring invites us to remember or the smell of fresh cut grass that summer promises. The Christmas holiday seems like years ago and the kids are already counting down the days until spring break. The vortex of January, February, March takes FOREVER! Yet, in all reality there are only fifty some days until it is officially spring. This fact is difficult to imagine, in my case, because that means I have lived in New England over a year now. Where did 2016 go–oh right, I moved with four kids. And it was full of new adventures, new schools, new sports, new friends, and tons of boxes. Sounds pretty fun, right? Well, yes, except for that one small detail, boxes. We moved across the country a year ago and I still have boxes full of (???) in my basement. How many of you can relate? I mean we all get busy, there is the PTA meeting, or the yoga night, or the basketball game, or the Super Bowl (Go Patriots!) to watch/do/see/participate. And try as I may, to get organized I keep looking past the boxes because, well, life. The life that brought us here, to the shoreline, and caused me to move with kids.
Pretty sure moving with children is not on the top on anyone’s top ten fun things to do in 2017…it is more like a chore. A really, really big chore. From packing, to finding schools, to organizing your boxes so the coffee pot is discoverable, all of these things have to be taken into consideration. Moving with kids is drastically different than moving while in college or as a single person. As a college student, I had it down to a science. Packed and unpacked in less than two hours, semester after semester, back and forth from the residence halls to my hometown in my teal 1994 Mustang packed to the brim with clothes, books, and pictures. Ahhh how times have changed. Moving with kids is an experience that can takes months to plan (and obviously, in my case, years to unpack.)
The experience of moving (across the country, no less) with my four kids: 10, 8, 5, and four months was, well, somewhat like going to the DMV. Not really fun but it had to be done. And, truthfully, it can be done with a resemblance of organization and planning. My good friend is moving to Texas in a couple of months, and like me, she has kids, including a baby. She called to ask me advice, which sparked this blog post. At the time of our move, it was certainly hard to wrap my mind around all that needed to be done, and how I possibly could make it work, but with a little (who am I kidding, a lot) of planning it all went pretty well. So here are a few tips that I found extremely helpful when moving with kids:
Research, Research, Research!
Lots of factors were in play when we were moving: schools, prices of houses, cost of living, commute time, safety, etc. And it is likely, if you are moving with kids, these factors will also come into play. I started by drawing a circle on the map based on commute time for my husband and then narrowed it down by the best schools and neighborhoods.
Plan for the Future
A reputable school district is important to me, so I did a lot of research on school ratings and reviews (remember even if you don’t have school age kids right now, soon they will be–so plan ahead.) I found some great resources online to help find the right school district for our family, but the best resource was our realtor. She knew the ins and outs of the communities, including the school districts.
Make a List!
A few days before I knew I needed to begin packing, I wrote a list of the things my family used on a daily basis and couldn’t live without. This was packed in a special tote, not to be lost or put on the back of the truck. These are the things that I wouldn’t pack in a suitcase (think toothbrushes) but items that would be needed the first day in the new home (think pillows, loveys, and sheets.) Other paramount items included in that tote–my coffee pot, coffee filters, and coffee, for instance.
Stick to Your Routine
I quickly realized I needed to plan to take time each day to focus on our ‘normal’ life. Because life doesn’t stop when moving with kids. They still have to attend school, say goodbye to friends, and eat dinner. Unlike moving when it was just my husband and me, which was metal to the ground, until we were completely done, practically racing each other to get finished with our assigned room first. It didn’t matter if 10:30 pm rolled around and we were just grabbing a bite to eat for the first time since a quick sandwich at lunch. Moving with kids doesn’t work like that: when a tired toddler is wanting a nap or when the teenager is hungry (alarm, alarm!!) a break is needed, and fast! Plan this on the front end of moving and on the back end. It was super important for my sanity. I remember some days just thinking I could unpack one more box and maybe another, but found if I created a firm stopping point everybody was a lot happier. As a goal, I choose a number of boxes to get through each day (I obviously got sidetracked on the last 8 boxes…).
My husband very clearly labeled and packed our kids’ toys and games strategically so they were some of the first things off the moving truck. The older three were then able to busy themselves by helping to unpack their own belongings and actually had fun unpacking. Somehow toys and stuffed animals became new again after being in a box for a week, and they even discovered the lost toys from the bottom of the toy box. Score!
Make a Date!
I made sure to plan something fun a couple of days after arriving at our new home. It was a small little outing, close in proximity, but it gave my kids and me something to look forward to other than unpacking. Our choices were limited because we moved in the dead of winter (who does that?) but we found a cute cafe, got some hot chocolate to go, and walked along the shore (a novelty for kids from the midwest!)
Moving to a new town right after college, I made the mistake of not getting involved in the community which resulted in my being miserable for the first two years of living there. Moving with kids allows for plenty of opportunity to get involved, and my main goal was to do just that. Mission: get acclimated in our new community right away. How exactly? I am planning another blog on this exact topic, so tune in next week.
I feel there is so many more tips and tricks to moving with kids, they all can’t possibly fit on this post, so maybe I will explore it more again at another time. It is so tricky, a little scary, a little exciting and of course, an adventure. My family and I came out the other side okay, a few broken items and ah, yes, those pesky boxes that remain on my to-do list. What tips do you have? Any suggestions that made your move with kids a bit less stressful? I’d love to hear them! Now, shall we begin our countdown to spring …. 50, 49….