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Preparing Kids and Pets for the Move

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Children and pets must always be watched carefully. On moving day, it's even more important to make sure your little ones (whether they have two legs or four) are safe and sound while the movers pack and load your belongings. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare them for moving day.

Preparing children for moving day

For children, moving can be an exceptionally difficult, traumatic experience that can spark feelings of sadness, depression, and even rage. Long before you pick a new home or select the best mover, you should sit your children down and explain why you're relocating and open yourself up for questions or concerns.

Be direct about the move and why it is absolutely necessary. There is no need to dance around the truth as such a method would only confuse young minds. As soon as you explain this, ask your children what they are feeling and if they have any questions. Be as open and nurturing as possible to calm their fears.
While you answer their questions and explain the move, be sure to take a progressive, optimistic approach to relocation:
  • Highlight the benefits of making new friends
  • Explain that old friends are always only a phone call or e-mail away
  • Talk about how much fun it is to live in a new room
  • Mention the great new teachers they'll meet at school
  • Show them pictures of the new school building and playground to get them excited

TIP: Consider promising a gift or some other treat upon arrival at the new home to encourage your child. It'll build excitement while chasing away the nervous blues.

At all times, engage your children in the process. Take them with you when you visit a new area, and let them look at homes with you. Ask for their input about improvement projects and, if they are old enough, allow them to help with the cleaning, repairing, and packing (under supervision of course!).

Often times, the most difficult part about moving is leaving friends behind. Give the child ample support while they say goodbye to friends, and make sure your child, his or her friends, and their parents know that you'll still be able to talk and occasionally get together from time to time. Have a going away party where your child can play with his or her friends in a familiar setting, and encourage everyone to exchange mailing and e-mail addresses, as well as phone numbers.

After you arrive at the new home, enroll your child in local programs that will encourage friendships. Scouting, sports, and clubs are all great activities that allow for recreation and making friends. Take your child around the new neighborhood and introduce them to neighbors. Make the new area comfortable and friendly for him or her. As you discover things about your area, share your findings with the kids to make them feel important and enthusiastic.

Preparing pets for a move

Unlike children who can voice questions and concerns before a move, pets are much less likely to express their emotions in ways that humans understand. Take care of your pets long before the move to ensure that they do not feel stressed or nervous during the process.

Check the regulations about moving pets before making any decisions, especially when moving long distances or abroad. Some states and countries have breed restrictions for pets, and some airlines will not allow certain animals to fly. Call a kennel near your destination in advance to see if you can board your animal for a few days upon arrival.

TIP: Take your pet out for short trips before the big move using the exact vehicles, carriers, and conditions that will be used on moving day. This will help them adjust to the transportation they'll be using.

Before you move, take your pet to its regular vet to make sure it is healthy enough to move. If so, ask for recommendations of vets in your new area. Also have its vaccinations and tests brought up to date. This will ensure less stress upon arrival at the new home. If your pet is not well enough for a move, ask about ways to give it a new home. Though it will be difficult to part, it is important to keep a pet's safety a priority.

Purchase portable kennels, special carriers or seats, and pet ladders in advance. Let your animal test them and reward them for using each piece of equipment properly.

Children on moving day

If you've already prepared your children ahead of time, moving day shouldn't be too stressful or difficult for them. There may be some resistance or hesitation, but most fears should have already been addressed and properly dealt with. Now, the biggest obstacle in your way is physically transporting your children from the origin to the destination safely.

Keep a separate do-not-load box aside and mark it with the words, "FOR KIDS." You will be able to put favorite toys, games, and other belongings for your children into the box so that they can play right away at their new home. Include a few non-perishable snacks, juice boxes, and other goodies as well as children's medicines and an extra set of clothes.

To keep your kids safe while the movers are at your home:
  • Secure your children in a safe room such as a playroom or upstairs bedroom away from all of the action
  • Allow the children to play and watch age-appropriate movies
  • Hire a babysitter to stay with the children so you can direct the movers
  • Have the kids spend the day with a friend or family member
  • If keeping the children in the home, clearly mark the door to make sure movers don't disturb them in their secure room
Plan to play a few games during the journey. If you are moving long distance, try spotting license plates from different states and keeping tallies of which plates you've seen. If you are only moving a short distance, consider giving your kids a copy of the map to trace your route. The games will keep their minds occupied while still reminding them about the journey to their new home. Let the children read, listen to music, and relax during the ride.

If driving with infants or very young children, consider their feeding and sleeping schedules as you drive. Do not allow the move to interfere with important sleeping and resting times if at all possible, and always keep an extra bottle on hand. Feed your young child as you normally would to avoid upsetting their schedule later on. And make sure to build in extra travel time for diaper changes and other required stops.

Pets on moving day

Like children, keep pets away from movers on moving day. You can either crate them, barricade them in a room with plenty of water and food, or hold them on leashes outside if the weather permits. Be sure to make your pet comfortable and happy at all times by providing ample food, water, shelter, and toys to play with.

Journeying with pets requires special considerations:
  • Secure your animal while driving
  • Keep the pet in a carrier or special seat at all times
  • Never let a pet travel in the front seat at this could lead to serious injuries in case of a crash
  • Invest in devices that keep the pet both comfortable and safe
  • Keep the windows rolled up while you drive to prevent animals from jumping or getting debris in their eyes

TIP: Don't allow animals to drink large amounts of water for two hours before leaving, and stop all pet food intake approximately three hours before moving. Allow the pet to have a small treat during the car ride and frequent short drinks of water.

Allow your animal to take relief breaks during the drive, and do provide water during long drives so that your pet does not become dehydrated or ill. Keep a bottle of clean water, a bowl, some food, treats, and any required medicines with you at all times in case the pet needs nourishment.

If your pet becomes agitated or excited during the move, calm it with quiet music, reassurances, and frequent breaks. Do not leave an agitated pet alone in the car for any reason, and do not blast loud music that can irritate a pet's hearing.

Moving with pets and children can be difficult, but follow these tips and you'll find yourself less stressed and overwhelmed during the move. Remember to always remain calm, consistent, and assuring around pets and children that are moving in order to keep them happy, healthy, and vibrant during and after the relocation process.

  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on August 27, 2009

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