Moving is a stressful, hectic time for everyone. There is so much to do to accomplish the move without disrupting your daily routine. If you are moving with children, you also have to worry about keeping your kids safe and entertained during the process. On moving day, there will be people in and out of your home, hauling heavy furniture and appliances. If your children get in the way of all the commotion, they could become seriously injured.
If you are worried about how to keep your children safely out of harm's way but also entertained on moving day, this guide will provide some ideas to keep your kids occupied in the midst of moving chaos.
Hire a babysitter or send kids to stay with friends/family
If there are no friends or family nearby, hiring a babysitter to come over and watch your younger children during your move will enable you to focus on other things -- like last-minute packing, overseeing the movers, and cleaning.
But sometimes the best thing for children, especially younger ones, is to get them out of the house completely. Ask nearby relatives to take the kids to a park if the weather is nice or stay in and watch movies if it's colder. If your children have close friends in the neighborhood that they will be leaving behind, ask the parents if they would mind watching them while you move house. Most neighbors are happy to be of assistance when you are moving, and this will give your kids a chance to say goodbye and play with their friends one more time.
Keep kids busy by playing in the backyard while you move
If the weather is pleasant, sending your kids out to play in the backyard is the easiest method to keep them out of the way. Keep a cooler with snacks and drinks to minimize the kids' needs to come inside. However, it's important to set ground rules for backyard safety if you leave your children outside.
If all of their toys are already packed away, suggest games of tag and hide-and-seek. You could also give them colored chalk to decorate the sidewalks or driveway of your home one last time, commemorating the event of your departure.
Create a moving day safe room for children
If it's cold or rainy outdoors, designate a safe room for your children to play without interfering with the moving crew's work. Make sure you notify the movers that your children are playing in the room, and it's off limits; you can even post a sign on the door.
- Since your electronics (television, DVD player, video game consoles) are likely packed already, supply your children with board games, coloring books, dolls or other low-maintenance toys. Keep a cooler with snacks and drinks in the room, along with the family pet for company.
- Books are a great option if your children are old enough to read. Buy your kids a new book to get lost in. They can pass time reading in a low-traffic area, and you can feel safe knowing they are out of the way!
- 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.
TIP: Ask your child to keep an eye on your cat or dog. Kids are often excited to be assigned a responsibility or a task to fulfill. If you are traveling by car on moving day, tell your child to keep track of your pet's food and bathroom breaks along the way.
Ask the moving company if they provide activity packs for kids
Some moving companies provide moving day activity bundles for children of certain ages. Ask your movers about this in advance, so they know how many packs to bring and that the activities are age-appropriate. Activity packs often include things like coloring books, stickers, play dough, bubbles or decks of cards.
Let children pack a "First Night" box to stay busy
Have your child pack up a box or bag containing all of the first night essentials -- pajamas, a favorite blanket, a pillow, a stuffed animal or doll, handheld electronic games and a change of clothes. They should keep their favorite toys with them to offer comfort as well as ensure safe passage to your new home.
Take your kids on one last walk around the neighborhood
Most of the time, both parents don't have to moderate the entire move. If one of you can step away for a little bit, or have an older child that is responsible enough to babysit, separate from the move and talk one last walk around the neighborhood to get closure.
The walk will be beneficial for multiple reasons. Your children can take one last look around, and you'll both get much-needed fresh air by getting out of the house. Maybe you can grab lunch while you're out.
Make a scrapbook with your child about the move
This is an activity best planned in advance but can be a fun way for older kids to stay occupied and find closure during a move. This is especially good if you're moving your children long distance.
Collect an assortment of pictures capturing memories your family has made together in the house. Provide your child with a scrapbook, colorful markers, stickers and paper. They can place the photos in the book and write down the memories associated with that day beside the photos. They can then use the markers to draw pictures or decorate the rest of the page with fun stickers.
TIP: This is also a great activity for your child to complete with friends on moving day. Each member of the group can create their own page of the scrapbook like a yearbook.
Keep a moving day journal
If your children are old enough to write, buy each a blank journal to write their thoughts in. You can present this journal to them on the days leading up to the move, but it is important for them to express their feelings on the day of the move.
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.
Decorate the moving boxes with your kids
Before the boxes holding your child's belongings get picked up by the movers and loaded onto the truck, they might enjoy adorning them with stickers, paint, markers or glitter. It will keep them busy and make it easier for them to identify which containers hold their possessions when they arrive in your new home. This may bring them some comfort if they have any apprehension about their most treasured toys becoming lost during the move.
TIP: If you have any extra boxes, smaller children might want to hop inside and play some imaginative games -- pretending it's a rocket ship or a time machine.
Let children unpack their belongings first
Moving 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 other boxes if their favorite stuffed animal is overseeing the unpacking.
Create an unpacking scavenger hunt
Give 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 their favorite bedtime story, family photo or movie.
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, with no sibling rivalry).
Play new house hide-and-seek with your kids
With 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, let them know if 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.
Have fun with old packing materials
Sure, 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, let them 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.