Moving a Young Family Cross-Country: What you Need to Know

Moving is never easy, but moving with small children can be quite challenging.


Children who have lived in one space their whole lives may struggle to understand what moving entails and may not really understand what their new space will look like until they’re in it. Visualizing can work for older children, but if you have toddlers, your best bet is to keep them as happy and busy as you or the professional pack.


Use Free Help As Offered

If someone offers to help you move, take them up on it. If they can cook, ask them to prepare a meal. Consider asking the parents of your children’s friends to invite them for a sleepover, or send your children to stay with a favourite aunt or a dear friend that loves your kids.

During the day, utilize school time and daycare or outside babysitting. Toddlers may not really understand what’s going on; if they come home and are upset that things are packed up, getting them out for a day of tiring fun can reduce distress and fear. Finally, if you have camping gear and the weather is decent, put the sleeping bags outside or in the living room and have a camping adventure.


Hire Professionals

Hire movers for the big stuff. You may prefer to pack up your own boxes. But by hiring experts to load the truck, stack the cartons, and manage the transport of your car cross country, you’ll greatly reduce your stress and be able to better utilize your time during the process of moving. Moving is really hard on children; if the two adults in the household are planning to drive the truck while the other drives the car, you are both going to get to your destination completely exhausted and stressed.

If at all possible, hire a driver to get your belongings across the country while you fly. You may have to wait for furniture, but if you rent a vacation home for a weekend before you go and a weekend after you arrive, you can limit disruption and have the energy necessary to settle into your new home.


Create a Decompression Spot

Moving is stressful. Adults and children alike can really struggle with staying patient and avoiding frustrated outbursts. As you pack, create a decompression spot where everyone can:

  • sit comfortably
  • enjoy a beverage
  • eat a snack
  • play, read or watch a video

When setting up your decompression space, make sure you involve your children in packing. There are many toys that spend a lot of time on the shelves, but there are also toys that are favorites. Set up a shelf (or preferably a movable cart) where children can store those most important toys that can’t go in a box just yet.

Make sure that the decompression room is the last thing you pack and the first space you unpack. Settling in may be more restful than packing, but it’s still hard on folks.


Use Suitcases

Use your suitcases for comfort and constancy. For example, make sure you can bathe and sleep on familiar bedding by checking bags that contain:

  • bedding and pillow for each
  • towels and blankets
  • enough weather-appropriate clothes for the first few days

In your carry-ons, pack a change of clothes, toiletries and pyjamas. Make sure you also have one electronics bag; an older child can be in charge of tablets and chargers in one bag so everyone can charge their necessary tools.

Proper suitcase management can really smooth out the bumpier aspects of your move. You don’t need a huge number of garments, but the ability to take a bath and sleep on your own pillow can be incredibly comforting when you’re tired and dealing with a lot of changes.

When you do get to your new home, try to have contacts in place you can reach out to for a few fun adventures. You may not have time to take your children to a local park the first few days, but if you can arrange a time at a local daycare for your children to play and release some tension, everyone will sleep much better and have a more positive attitude toward the new location. Your realtor may be able to help you find such connections.