We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again; moving with kids can be uber stressful. Factor in a long distance move, and you’re probably in for some tantrums, crying, arguing, and emotional outbursts reminding you that you’re the reason they’ve had to leave all of their friends behind. If you’ve got infants or toddlers, packing up and losing their most prized companion for a span of 24 hours can spell nightmare.
So if you’re undertaking a long distance move, how do are you supposed to do it and keep your sanity intact? We’ve compiled a list of 5 things you can do to make the journey a little less stressful, and a little more fun.
Get Them Involved
One of the worst things you could do is think that doing all the work yourself and leaving your kids out of the move is a good idea. Imagine yourself in their shoes, coming home to find your childhood bedroom baron and packed into boxes – wouldn’t do over well for your parents, would it?
Instead, get your kids involved in the planning and packing of the move – especially their own stuff. Allowing them to pack will help them to first keep themselves organized and feeling on control of their personal stuff, but it will also give them some time to reflect and mentally prepare while thinking about the upcoming move. This type of time allowance is key to helping them acclimate to the idea of moving.
Have Fun In Between Packing and Unpacking
There’s a good chance that if you’re moving across the province, or even internationally, that your moving truck is going to arrive a couple of days after you’ve reached your new address. During this down time take the family out and about to explore the new community and take in the sights. Try:
- Going to the beach / ski hill / movies, etc
- Go out for dinner and experience a popular spot for locals
- Look for similarities between your new home and your old community
- Take the Dog to a neighbourhood dog-park
- Have a backyard BBQ
The worst thing to do here would be to sit and wait for your stuff to arrive. Instead, get out and immediately try to help your kids feel like they’re on a mini vacation and treat them to a good time.
Unpack their Rooms First
Kids aren’t much different than most adults – they need their personal space and time alone as much as we do. When you arrive at your new home, make a point to invest the time to unpack and settle them first. This will allow your kids to feel as though the move was nothing more than a little hiccup in between drives. It will give them a chance to build their homebase where they can retreat to read a book, watch a movie, or listen to music.
Further to unpacking, if you can – consider making a trip to paint and prepare the house for them before the move. This may be unachievable if you’re moving internationally or across a massive country like Canada, but if you’re moving a few hours away, the drive and preparedness will be well worth it. Set aside some time with your kids to get them to approve paint colours so they have a personal space that’s just for them as soon as they open the door of their new home.
For the love of Pete – feed your kids. Don’t stretch the drive another hour before breaking for lunch because you’re feeling a little behind. Cater to them first and foremost. And, let them eat whatever they want during the trip. Burgers, pizza, whatever – don’t make them eat healthy things when you’re dragging them kicking and screaming far from their friends and everything they know.
Prepare some food and snacks for the trip so you can keep your costs down, but remember that getting out of the car and stretching your legs is a great thing for the whole family. Taking an hour here and there to get up and eat is a good way to break the monotony of the drive into digestible chunks.
Make the Drive Manageable
You may be one of those parents who likes to hugely manage and keep an eye on a certain amount of screen-time – and we agree – to an extent. If your kids aren’t looking forward to the move, and you have a few hours to kill in the car, do yourself a favour and avoid confrontation; beat the boredom. Give them an iPad or gadget they can watch a movie on, play a game, or even ask them to search for some cool local attractions they’d like to visit once you arrive in your new community.
Remember, a long distance move with kids is all about balance. If you’re the reason for moving, do everything in your power to balance their feelings with your actions. You’ll be happy you did – ultimately because it will make them happier.