Survival Guide: Moving With Small Kids

Some game-changing tips and a timeline that will get you (and your little) through a move in one piece.

Screenshot 2016-06-17 10.26.57Whether you’re moving 3 blocks or 3,000 miles, packing up your life and moving to a new home is damn stressful. (Fun fact: It’s in the top 3 most stressful life experiences, along with death and divorce.) Add on to that a small child, and the daunting task seems nearly impossible.

If you can’t justify hiring someone to pack and unpack everything (and really, who can?), here are some game-changing tips and a timeline that will get you (and your little) through it in one piece. #MovingGoals


The More Things Change… : The chaos of a move is felt even by small children. Outside of the move, try and keep as many other things the same – this is not the time to potty train or transition to a big kid bed.

Ask For/Accept Help: People will likely offer to watch your child for a few hours while you pack, or come help you clean out your closet. Just say yes! You need all the help you can get. Also, you’ll get 10X more done with the kids out of the house, so it’s worth hiring a sitter if your family and friends are selfish unavailable.

4 Weeks Before

  • Take inventory. Any furniture you don’t want to keep, list on Apartment Therapy and/or Craigslist.
  • Start prepping littles by explaining that you’ll be moving, and read a book about it to really drive it home. We love Boomer’s Big Day and The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day for the toddler-set.
  • Go through closets and create a Salvation Army/Goodwill pile (schedule a pickup then – there’s no next-day appointments).
  • If you have kid things going to Goodwill/Salvation Army, make sure they are out of sight from your child. Otherwise, the giveaways will become the new favorite toys!

2 Weeks Before

  • Change your address online (takes up to 2 weeks to make its way through the system, which should surprise no one).
  • If you’re trying to move on the cheap, do a quick search on CL  or check Uhaul’s box exchange for free boxes and bubble wrap. That stuff is surprisingly expensive and people who just moved are often trying to unload it.
  • If your little(s) are 2+ and you’re without a sitter, put them to work. Set up an empty box and let them fill it with whatever you decide (your shoes, their toys, etc). Involving them in the process reduces their anxiety.
  • If you have the capacity to executive produce your move, down to a color-coded labeling system… well good on you. At the very least, label the kids’ stuff – so when your little refuses to go to bed until he has Moo Moo, you can find it fairly easily.

1 Week Before

  • Change your shipping address on amazon. (You will be ordering a lot right after you move and nothing’s more annoying than it going to your old address – we speak from experience.)
  • As your stress level escalates with the impending move, mask it from your kids with special treats like ordering pizza for dinner and letting them watch TV – things that make your life easier and make them feel extra-special.
  • Pack a kids moving day go-bag that has several changes of clothes, any coveted lovie or stuffed animal, snacks, a few toys, sippy cup, diapers/wipes, hand sanitizer, and PJ’s. Just. In. Case.

Moving Day

  • Have kids out of the house before the movers come – it’s upsetting for them and distracting to you if they’re around. Send them off with Grandma, out with the nanny, or hire a babysitter to take them somewhere (anywhere).
  • Ask the movers to put the kids’ room boxes on the truck last, so they are first to come off. That gives you a jump-start on rebuilding the crib and getting his room set up.
  • Put a surprise new toy in your child’s new closet. Not only will it delight him during a chaotic time, but it might also keep him busy while you get things (slightly) sorted once the movers leave.

Post Move, Day 1

  • You have 1 million boxes to unpack, and they’ll still be there tomorrow. Time to go do something fun with your child in your new neighborhood! Check out the library, go to a playground – do something to get him excited about all this change.