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Movin' on up

May 7, 2012 - Erin O'Neill
It is probably one of the most hated things in the world. Honestly, if I were to conduct a poll, I would guess that at least 80% would claim that they hate it. No, it's not broccoli. Or going to work. Or paying taxes. I'm talking about moving. And if you think just moving yourself is bad, try moving with kids. Ugh, it's the worst.

I actually counted once how many times I have moved in my life. Eleven. Eleven times is how many I have moved. That counts moving away to college twice. That means 11 times of packing and unpacking my life. This will be only the second time I've moved with my child. The first time I don't remember being so difficult.

By the time a child is a first-grader, he or she has accumulated so much junk. I say that lovingly, of course. But the art projects, report cards, invitations to birthday parties, Christmas presents they just "have to have" (but tire of in a few weeks) - all of these things add up to a giant pile of chaos. Not to mention all the clothes they outgrow. Yes, I still have eensy-weensy baby outfits. They were all just too cute to give up.

But the next step is definitely a yard sale.

If you are going through this process now or in the near future, here are some tips from PBS Parents to get you, er, moving in the right direction:

1. Spread out the move out over a couple days. Moving an entire house in one day makes for very exhausted and grumpy parents. It is more work than anyone should do. If you are moving locally, see if you can get into your new house just a few days early, it is worth every penny. Moving room by room is one thousand times better than trying to sort out a sea of boxes. It makes for an easier transition for the littlest members of your family, too.

2. Hire multiple babysitters or enlist family and friends to help. Hype up a play date extravaganza week for the kids. Pick their most favorite people and friends to watch them for short or long stretches depending on their ages. Trying to do anything on a timed schedule with kids around is near impossible and having kids gone will let you go at lightning speed. Also enlist helpers for after the move, which will be a life saver when you really need to get settled and make your space finally feel like home.

3. Honor your old home and welcome the new house. We left a pile of boxes one day to take a break and go pick berries for our old and new neighbors. We made a list of all the things we will miss in the old and all the things we want to do in the new. We wrote thank you notes to our old neighbor who was always so kind to our kids. If you are moving far away you may want to self address envelopes and hand out to your kids' most important people and friends to send them a letter during the first few weeks when everyone may start to feel homesick.

4. Make a check list and give everyone a job. Most small children worry about if all the things they care about will make it during a move. Make a check list with your kids listing the things most important to them. Pack the "special box" together and take it in your car if at all possible. Pretend like you are going on vacation; pack a bag of snacks and loot to pull out in difficult moments or to buy some needed busy time. Give kids simple jobs to keep them feeling connected and part of the decision to move. Call family meetings to check-in with each member about how things are going and what everyone might need throughout the move.

5. Don't wait to make connections. Find local list serves, co-ops and other neighborhood connections that might make your transition and introduction to your new place smoother. Introduce yourself on the block or floor as soon as you can, knowing your neighbors is the best way to get the lay of the land.

6. Invite some art into the process. Big brown boxes might be the most popular toy of all time. Buy a pack of markers and let the kids go to town coloring and making their own playhouse out of discarded boxes, or even create a box city in the back yard.


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