|Moving with children, no matter their ages, is quite the added challenge when it comes to hauling all of your belongings across town, across the state or across the country. Worried about how you're going to balance keeping your kids entertained all day while you deal with all the logistics of the move?
Take a look at our top 10 list of moving day activities for your children - it may even inspire some new ideas of your own!
1. Have your kids join in on the packing actionIt's a good idea to organize all of your moving boxes with labels and color-coding prior to the big day, but once you've done so, you can turn the color-coding into a game. Assign each child a specific color to be in charge of, and have that child locate all boxes that are labeled with that color. For example, if one child is assigned the “blue” boxes, make sure he or she does a thorough investigation of the house to be sure all blue boxes are grouped together (without actually lifting the boxes, unless they are very light).
Once the boxes are moved into your new home, you can even have your child politely instruct the movers to place the boxes in their corresponding rooms.
2. Keep a moving day journalIf your children are old enough to write, buy a blank journal for them to take turns writing their thoughts in. You can certainly present this journal to them on the days leading up to the move, but it is also important for them to express their feelings on the day of the move as well. They can add drawings of their new room, photos they've taken, funny things family members said, songs that played on the radio, and any other personal touches they can think of. For additional writing and drawing activities, check out “My Very Exciting, Sorta Scary, Big Move” by Lori Attanasio Woodring.
3. Assign a child a family petIf you have a family pet you are moving, and a child old enough/responsible enough to keep watch, let him or her have that responsibility. Tell your child to keep track of your pet's food and bathroom breaks along the way (if you are traveling by car on your moving day).
4. Board games and car gamesIf you're traveling by car for your move, it may be easier to customize your moving day activities for your children. You can pack a bag full of fun board games to help your children pass the time, and be sure to include any favorites to make them feel at ease.
Additionally, you can also participate in some memorization or guessing games like, “I'm going on a picnic” or “I spy.” Don't forget about “punch buggy,” too! You can even quiz your children on some specifics of your new home - "what's your new address? What's the name of your new school?"
5. Let them unpack their belongings firstMoving somewhere new is quite the adjustment for your kids, so make them feel important. Before you dive right into unpacking the kitchen, living room or dining room, allow each child to select one of their own boxes and take a few items out. They may be more inclined to help out with the other boxes if their favorite stuffed animal is overseeing the unpacking.
6. Create an indoor camping tripWhile your moving crew is packing and loading furniture and boxes, your children will most likely just need a space of their own away from all the moving commotion. You can set up a portable DVD player in a small tent with some sleeping bags and flashlights, and let them “camp out” for a few hours while the movers do their job. Once the move is complete, you can simply pack up the tent, get your little ones in the car, and head out to your new home. If you'll be flying to your new home, you can pack all of the “camping gear” into a medium sized box and have it shipped out before your flight.
7. Create an unpacking scavenger huntGive your children a list of items to find among the moving boxes once they are delivered. If your boxes are already color-coded, you should be able to identify the contents of each box easily. For example, you can have your child locate his or her favorite bedtime story, family photos, or movies. If you want to add some flare to the game, award a prize to your child for completing the list first (keep the competition friendly, though. No sibling rivalries!).
8. Moving day moviesPick out some age-appropriate moving-themed movies for your children to watch, either in the car or on the plane, the day of your move. If your vehicle is not equipped with a built-in DVD player, you can use a laptop or tablet device (download the movies prior to hitting the road). If you have a good WiFi signal, you can also stream movies using Netflix. Some good movies include: Hocus Pocus, Princess Diaries, Toy Story, The Karate Kid, and Casper.
9. New house hide-and-seekWith a new house that isn't all set up yet, your kids will have to get creative with their hiding spots! This is also a good way for them to get familiar with their new space and the set up of the house. However, you can also let them know that certain areas are off limits, like unfinished basements or attics. Keep the hide and seek to the main floors of the house, until you are all more comfortable with your new digs.
10. Fun with old packing materialsSure, you may want to be rid of all those moving boxes and packing materials as soon as possible, but let the kids have a little fun first! If they're small enough, allow them to climb into empty boxes, dive into packing peanuts, and stomp on bubble wrap until it's all popped. Once they burn off some excess energy, they may be more focused to help you with some of your unpacking tasks.