Moving with Kids and Pets: How to Keep the Whole Family Happy
Writer Lindsey Roberts explains in The Washington Post: “My number one tip for moving with kids, especially little kids is … don’t do it.”
Unfortunately, Roberts’ advice is not always realistic. You may need to move for a new job, or to take care of an ailing parent, or for a new military assignment—and those things can’t wait.
Moving homes with children and pets in tow can present unique challenges. Thankfully, they can be mitigated with the right knowledge and preparation. Check out these tips for reducing stress and smoothing the move for every member of the family (two- and four-legged).
Tips for Moving with Children
Roberts provides some more realistic tips for keeping everyone sane and happy during a move with kids:
- Ask for help with the kids, and lots of it. You need more help with the kids than with packing. If friends or family really want to serve you, ask them to entertain the kids in the part of the house you’re not packing. Or ask them to take the kids out of the house so that you can focus.
- Start months (not weeks) earlier than you think is reasonable. If it now takes twice as long to get out the door than before you had kids, it will take twice as long to pack up your house, no matter how small it is.
- Pack up the house while they’re asleep (especially their toys!). Dare you to try packing your child’s toys while she is awake. Good luck! Make sure to do this at night or when they’re out of the house. Leave one box of toys out until the very end, though, so that they always have something to play with.
- Sell or get rid of items at night. Just like packing, take Goodwill piles to the trunk of your car at night so that you can drop them off the next day without the kids seeing that one toy they never played with. There is a high probability they will decide it’s their favorite toy and that you’re a monster for giving it away. If you want to make a little money off your items, consider selling them through online yard sale and mom’s groups instead of giving them away.
- Pack each family member one suitcase. If you are facing extended temporary housing allow one suitcase per family member. This makes it easier to separate their items and easy to find things on each temporary stop along the way.
- Have a few new and exciting surprises. Purchase a few new toys for the move and plan a trip to your favorite family restaurant for the very end in order to keep up morale. You may be sad about the goodbyes, but there is still a new adventure in front of you.
- Say goodbye to your old house. It might help your child emotionally to leave home by making a final pass through. Consider walking through each room to say “bye-bye.”
Tips for Moving with Fur Babies
For those of your with fur babies, it’s just as important to meet your pets’ needs during your move. MoveCheck suggests you take the following steps:
- Update identification. Make sure your pet is wearing a well-fitted collar with his name, your name and your cell phone number on it. Your current number and address will not do any good if your pet gets separated from you on the move.
- Check with your vet. If you are crossing state lines, your pet probably needs a health certificate (who knew?). This is a quick process if you have a regular veterinarian.
- Socialize as much as possible. If Fido has little travel experience, start taking him on short drives around the neighborhood as often as possible. You want him to realize the trip is no reason to get excited as well as practice transporting him the same way you will while on the move. So, for example, if he will be crated, have him crated on the trips. If he will travel in a seat, practice this way so he is used to staying in his spot and you get comfortable loading and unloading him. If you do plan to allow him to ride loose in the vehicle, invest in a travel harness that connects to the seatbelt, to keep him still and safe.
- Get him out of the way when the movers arrive. Have one room emptied completely and shut your pets in there while you and the movers pack. Put a sign on the door so no one opens it accidentally. In the chaos of packing the moving truck, Schnookums could slip away without anyone noticing.
- Find the best fit for pet shipping. If you are flying for a move and can’t bring your pet on the flight, consider shipping him. There are specific companies that have specialized services just for shipping your pet. One option is uShip.
- Introduce him to home. Once you’re in your new home, don’t immediately let Blazer loose, either in the house or yard. Select one room, check it thoroughly for safety, and put your pet in there. Now, carefully inspect the rest of the house. Open cabinets, check closets, and generally make sure the home is secure before letting your pet inspect the premises. Do the same with the yard. If your pet happens to escape, he will be unfamiliar with his surroundings and may react in unexpected ways, such as running off or hiding.
It is important to note that dogs and cats behave differently after moves. Dogs are typically bonded strongly to their humans, so they will acclimate quickly as long as you provide plenty of attention. Cats are more often bonded to their location, so they will want to explore their new location thoroughly before settling down.
Give yourself, your kids and your pets grace during this time. Moving can be psychologically disorienting and emotionally exhausting. Planning ahead and taking the proper precautions can make the entire process easier for your entire family, but it still takes time to for everyone to say goodbye to your old home—and for your new place to feel like “home.”
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