If you’re moving with kids, one of the biggest stressors may be getting packed. You may worry about getting packed while watching little kids to make sure they don’t get hurt or cause a disaster, and older kids may drive you distracted as they drag their feet on packing. You may also worry that they aren’t capable of packing their things. Here are some tips for handling packing with kids.
Toddlers and preschoolers can be a handful under any circumstance. Packing up your house while trying to keep an eye on them may feel impossible. A good strategy for packing with toddlers is to get them out of the house. Arrange a couple of play dates or drop them off at a relative’s house. You can also hire a baby sitter to keep them busy and entertained while you pack.
Kindergarteners and early elementary school kids will want to feel useful and part of the move. You can have them decorate moving boxes once they’re packed, or practice writing by helping to label boxes. They should be able to help pack their non-breakable items like boxed games and books. Their attention span for the task will be short, so be sure to plan short periods of packing with them, then let them go off and play on their own. Spread packing their room over a couple days so they can help.
Depending on your older grade school kids, they may be able to help with more than just their rooms. Additionally, they will respond well to rewards for helping out, so make clear what those may be. Give them tasks that fit their skills and temperaments. Keep the breakables away from the child who only has to look at something for it to break, and let the perfectionist kid wrap dishes for you while you pack them.
In addition to helping with packing common areas, high school students should be able to pack their entire room, and you should let them. Give them instructions, set deadlines, make it clear that this is their responsibility. You should also let them know that sloppy packing may mean broken items. Let them know that waiting until the last moment will mean more work for them, and then stick to it. Do not get hung up about the state to their clothes in the suitcase, or nitpick about how they’re packing things. Think of it as good practice for packing them up for college.
The big issue with all kids is getting them to identify items to get rid of. Because moving is upsetting, kids, and even adolescents, may want to hold on to toys and other items they’ve outgrown. Rather than disposing of things without consulting them, talk to them about why they want to hang onto toys, and encourage them to let other kids have the joy of playing with them. Do not make them give up treasured items like teddy bears, dolls and other items they have an emotional attachment to. One tactic that works well for ten to twelve year olds is to talk about their room in the new house, and let them plan a more grown up room. The prospect of being treated more like a teen may help them let go of outgrown items more easily.
Every family is different, of course, and these are just guidelines. Some families find it most efficient to have their movers provide a packing crew, while they spend the day together. In addition to relieving a lot of stress and worry, it will take a lot of work off your plate. Talk to your agent about adding these services to your move contract.