Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tips for moving with kids

I'm very happy to report that THE GREAT MOVE OF 2013 is almost entirely finished. I think we almost died a few times, but thankfully God had mercy on us and we survived. Mostly. I wish I could say with any sort of seriousness that we are never. moving. again. Alas, we'll be doing this all over again in a year or two. This is definitely a lesson in keeping tomorrow's worries for tomorrow because the thought of doing this all again makes me break out in hives. For real.

In any case, since we did just survive a move with kids, and one that had us packing up after having lived in the same home for nearly a decade, I have a few tips to share for those of you foolish enough faced with moving. I figure most people think of the basics - things like, start organizing and cleaning out closets early, check for used moving boxes on Craigslist, and so forth. So I thought I'd share some slightly less common tips for moving, especially if you have children.

1. Put a sign up somewhere prominent that says, in very large, clear letters, "IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS, IT IS PACKED." Below that, in smaller lettering, you might include, "Why? Because we are moving." Then you can direct every question about where some particular item is to the sign, saving you at least some wear and tear on your vocal chords. Somehow, despite the fact that your house is full of moving boxes, half the furniture is cleared out, and you've read every picture book ever written about moving to your kids, they will still ask, at least 800 times a day, if you know where to find their blue truck or white teddy bear or Lego instructions to make the Hobbit Warg Attack set. Instead of allowing yourself to become exasperated with answering the same question multiple times a day, simply point to the sign. And if you have children who don't read yet, you can accomplish the same thing with some cute clip art pictures. I'm filing this one under "do this next time," because I didn't think of it until it was too late, and found myself rather frustrated with the results.

2. Bring your sign to the new house and post it prominently (and perhaps make two) because questions about where particular items are will undoubtedly begin 10 seconds after you walk in the door, even while people are still hauling boxes and furniture into your new house, the whole place is in chaos and nothing is even remotely close to being put away.

3. This one might sound crazy, but if you have a day of work to be done (such as, cleaning your old house from top to bottom) and your kids are going to be with you, a new Lego set can buy you a few hours uninterrupted work time. Yes, I realize giving your kids something with 8 billion little parts during a time you are trying to pack and move and clean sounds crazy. But, at least for my kids, a new Lego set means hours (not minutes, as with so many toys) of occupied time. There is the initial build time, and then lots of time playing with it afterwards. If the thought of breaking out a new Lego set during a move makes you question my sanity, the principle applies to a lot of toys - the novelty of something new and interesting can give you some much needed packing/working/cleaning time.

4. When you can, enlist the kids' help. My kids did great with things like spraying weeds in the patio cracks with homemade weed killer (vinegar, salt and dish soap, thankyouverymuch Pinterest), and wiping walls with those magic erasers. Seriously, magic erasers are not only magic because they work pretty well in getting walls clean, but magic because the kids think they are super fun to use. You can go behind them and clean up the streaky parts later.

5. Ella had a lot of concerns about what we'd be taking to the new house. It was helpful, and reassuring, to walk around and point out the things we were bringing with us. It was a little bit tedious, as she needed to point out every last small thing she could find and ask, "Are we taking THIS to the new house?" But indulging a little child's curiosity and helping ease her anxiety was time well spent. Yes, we are taking the pink kitty. No, we aren't taking the closet door. Yes, we are taking the box of baby doll clothes. No, we aren't taking the toilet.

6. Plan ahead for things like where you'll sleep and what clothes you'll wear, during the big moving days. We used Door to Door Moving and Storage, so they put moving pods in our driveway, we filled them, they picked them up and dropped them off at our new house. That whole process definitely does not happen in a day, so we had to be without our stuff for a couple of days. We had to make sure we thought ahead and kept out things like sleeping bags, air mattresses and overnight bags with a couple days' changes of clothes. Otherwise, we would have found ourselves with nowhere to sleep and nothing clean to wear - not a happy prospect when you're no longer a carefree couple with no one to worry about but yourself (ahem... like last time we moved).

7. Lower your standards for a while. My kids have watched an enormous amount of TV and played more levels of Candy Crush and Angry Birds than I want to admit, even to myself. But we have been in survival mode for the last couple of weeks and sometimes the magical screen of flashing light needs to babysit the kids so you can get things done. I don't usually want to rely on massive amounts of screen time, but in the short term, you kind of do what you gotta do and let go of the guilt. It won't last forever and I don't think their brains will melt.

8. Finally, don't forget to pack your sense of humor and ability to breathe deeply. Or should I say, don't pack them so they are easily accessible and not buried in a box in the garage. The past couple of weeks were seriously busy and hectic and stressful and above all, exhausting. We had days on end of packing, loading, moving, cleaning, and then doing it all over again. It was a huge amount of work, but letting myself get snippy with the kids and slipping into "grumpy Mom" certainly wasn't going to help.

And when all else fails, go out for ice cream.

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