Tips for Moving With Kids?

We’re moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn this weekend, and I’m trying to figure out how to help the boys with the transition. We went to the library to read this book, and I’ve reassured Toby that his toys will be coming with us. But what else? Any advice? Here are a few tips I’ve heard…

1. Be confident about the move. “The first step to any change is a parent’s conviction…If we (our child’s leaders) are tentative, uneasy or uncertain, it is much more difficult for the child to transition comfortably. Children can ‘read’ us a mile away.” –Janet Lansbury (whom I adore, by the way!)

2. Explain the move beforehand. You can act out the move with a toy truck or to read a book about moving. Assure your child that all of your furniture and toys are coming with you. List all the things that will stay consistent, such as their friends, family and babysitter.

3. Stick to your routines. “Children under 8 are less attached to people, such as friends, but very attached to places and routines. For this reason, it’s important to stick to regular schedules as much as possible before, during and after the move.” —Scholastic

4. Give your child a box so he can pack his own toys. —my friend Gemma

5. “’Some children may feel guilty about leaving their house behind, as if they might be hurting its feelings,’ explains Kimberly Daniels, a Connecticut elementary school guidance counselor and child development expert. ‘It’s important to reassure your child that the house you’re leaving will be well cared for by the next family.’ ” —Scholastic

6. Consider having kids stay with a friend or babysitter on moving day to avoid witnessing the actual move.

7. Take snapshots (or even make a photo book) of your old house and neighborhood. Then you can look through them with your child, remember the old house and explain the process of moving. —my friend Gemma

8. Once you move, unpack the child’s bedroom first. They’ll feel better if they can be settled in their own bed surrounded by familiar belongings.

9. Spend quality time with your child. When her son was having a tough time after moving, blogger Liza Cumming focused on him: “Rather than devoting myself to the task of unpacking and giving in to my desire to have everything ordered, I left it all and spent the week focusing on Finn, giving him the attention he had been craving and establishing a new routine of playgroups, parks and story-time at the local library. I wanted him to feel secure in his new environment, an orderly house could come later.”

10. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. “No toddler is happy about moving. Moving is loss…Encourage him to express any feelings of grief, loss, anger…If you welcome them, they will pass more quickly, and your mission will be accomplished, your relationship of trust intact.” —Janet Lansbury

I’m going to talk to little Anton tonight, too, since according to Janet Lansbury, “Even with an infant, honest preparation eases a change. He may not understand all we say, but he will surely sense our intention.”

Have you moved with kids? Do you have any other advice? Did you try any of the tips above? How did it go? I would LOVE to hear! Thank you so much xoxo

(Top photo of my mom with sister and me when we were moving houses)

  1. Some great tips. I would imagine witnessing something as grand as a huge move really would be a very emotional time for kids.

    I love the idea of making it into a game. Will use in the future. Thanks for the share!

  2. Moving with kids are not possible to easy move. kids are not do the moving work and do not let us do it. But i read your blog and i like your tips. your tips are very useful for moving with kids. Thanks for sharing the great information. Good Luck!

  3. Lovely post! I like your writing style! Moving house with kids is definitely not an easy job. My brother and his family are preparing to move house and they have two kids. Their biggest concern for this move is how the kids will accept the change. I will definitely try to help. I believe that the best thing is to take the kids with me for few days until everything is done! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hello, Joanna ! I recently past through the same moment – moving. There is not easy way to control our kids attitude, but I agree that we can try to make it less difficult. For my kids it helped a lot to see their new bedroom filled with their old toys. Good luck

  5. Plan on having a trusted friend, relative or neighbor keep children during the actual pack out day so they are not in the “frenzy” of moving day. It is difficult for children to see strangers in the house putting everything into boxes. You will also have a much better and focused moving day experience if you do not have to do tasks such as preparing food etc. and split your attention between your children’s daily needs and the moving tasks at hand.

  6. HI Jo, Love your work! I think it is important to stick with established routines and keep going with them throughout the move period – it really helped us! Thanks, Megan.

  7. I didn’t know that kids can sometimes feel guilty about leaving stuff behind. I am nervous to tell my kids, but I know they will love our new house. I will have to consider which tips will work the best for my kids and apply those first. Thanks!

  8. What a great tip about sticking to routines! My sister and brother-in-law are moving in a few weeks and are a bit nervous about how their young kids will take it. I will have to suggest they try keeping their routines as normal as possible, despite being in a new location, to help their kids better adapt.

  9. Moved to Montreal (and blogging about it!) two weeks ago and still holding fast to #10. Thank you for another helpful post.

  10. We moved last year with a 3 yr old and 1 yr old. Biggest advice I could give you have listed already – if you can have someone watch the boys during the actual move so they don’t see it, but also so you can solely focus on the move. And then the first room or rooms should be the boys’ spaces and yours. After our move our 3 year old knew a safe place outside her new room was our room (and bed, for a few nights).

  11. JF says...

    I have recently moved house with a 3 and a 1 year old. Taking them to visit the new house beforehand, telling them where their new room will be helps reducing the unknown. I also unpacked and tidied their room first, so they had all their familiar toys around and the place was welcoming.

  12. Like a lot people who have commented, we have also just moved. We were trying to figure out how to help our son with the transition and got the tip from a friend to make a little photo book with pictures from our old apartment, old neighborhood and the move itself.

    The plot was super simple: this is where we lived, then we moved, we miss our friends but they are still with us in our hearts (and on FaceTime!).

    Our two year old adores it and it has been a great way to access and talk about his feelings!

    Good luck with your move!


  13. We are military and move more often then most. I find moves often stir up a season of testing limits. It is important for the kiddos security to keeps rules consisant. Allowing behavior that would not have been permitted previously only adds to instability of a new place. (Example: standing or jumping on furnature.) I always tell my kiddos, “Different house but same mommy, same rules.” This assures them that although the house is different the home dynamic is the same. They will be just as safe and cared for here as they were at our old house.
    Hope this is helpful.

  14. I moved to Manhattan with two boys ages, 6 and almost 2 at the time, from Michigan. Talk about change and transition! I worked really hard to keep the boys occupied and show them that living in the city was going to be fun and exciting. We spent a lot of time just being tourists in our new city and neighborhood. While I was unpacking, one of the things my husband did was take my oldest out to buy him a scooter. One of the first things we noticed on arrival was that pretty much every kid had a scooter that they used on the playground and to just keep up with their parents while getting around. It was such a big difference from where we came from (you drove everywhere and there were no playgrounds…)and really helped my son get acclimated.

  15. I was an au pair with a family that moved during the time I was there. The #1 thing I think is NOT to treat it like a big disaster. Yes, it is disruptive. But to put that in a more positive slant, basically when you are excited and see it as an adventure, the kids probably will too. (If you see it as a horrible thing, they will too.) Secondly, absolutely know where “important things” are – things like bath toys might make a big difference. Lastly, let the kids explore the new place as much as possible AND THEN PLAY IN BOXES. Kids and boxes = magic.

  16. Hi Joanna, I do some work for Sesame Street and they’ve just released a neat app that Toby might find fun. It takes kids through all the steps of moving, from packing and saying goodbye to exploring a new neighborhood and meeting new friends. There are parent tips embedded in the app and on the Sesame website also, as someone has already mentioned. :)

  17. When I was a kid, our family was always growing and my parents loved moving from house to house. We used to move every year and a half, and i really enjoyed these moments, especially when it was time to unrap the dishes and there was paper everywhere, it was just as fun as playing in dead leaves mounts in autumn!

  18. I was an Air Force brat grew up moving every year or two. One of the things that always made it better for me was that my parents pretty much gave me free reign with how to decorate each new room of mine. We usually weren’t allowed to paint, so that wasn’t an issue, but barring that, I could do whatever I wanted. They also let me do it myself. Your little guys might not be quite old enough for that, but letting take a sense of ownership in the new place and giving them some say in their living space, if not in the move itself, might help them feel like that have a little bit of control.

  19. We just moved cities with a 3.5 year old and one year old. We did a lot of talking about it beforehand with our daughter. I made myself scarce with the kids while the movers packed up the house, but had to return near the end. The sight of our almost-empty house disturbed her more than I was expecting, but the arrival the next day at the new house with nearly everything already off the truck was exciting. We set her room up first and have made it a point in the first two weeks to find all of our “new” things – grocery store, library, park, etc. They both have done great! Good luck to y’all!

  20. Awesome post Joanna. When my family moved for the first time, it felt like a death in the family. I really felt like we were abandoning a friend. And I was 14! My younger siblings also struggled. My mom was really good at acknowledging and validating our feelings which I think was huge. She put pics of the house in our scrapbooks and talked about the home with genuine nostalgia. It was nice to know she appreciated the space as we did. We still drive by our old house with fondness knowing another family is raising their kids there and making memories as we did.

  21. You always make me smile … and think I have completely ruined my kids forever. We have moved 6 times in the 15 years since my eldest was born. Three of those moves were to foreign countries. Our standard line is “I know you don’t want yo move. I don’t particularly want to move either. But (large company my husband works for) didn’t exactly ask me what I wanted. Life is not fair.” Your way is probably better, but mine hasn’t seemed to cause THAT much damage yet.

  22. thank you so much for all these amazing tips and great insight xo

  23. I don’t have kids, but did move a lot as a kid. It felt pretty normal, even exciting when we got older.

    The thing I remember most was that my brother and I somehow developed this tradition of christening the new house by spinning in circles over and over and over in the living room until we fell over, sprawled across the floor, and watched the room rock and sway while we regained equilibrium…I’m 30 now, and still insist that roommates do it with me in new houses.

  24. Is it just me or does it seem like this list works for adults too!? :) I wish I could stay somewhere else on move day and have a little book of a place I loved to live. It’s kind of advice for anyone going through transition- Love it! :)

  25. We moved quite a bit when I was younger and I remember my parents treating it as a big adventure, with us getting to see new places and meet new people. The only time I really remember being upset by a move was the first time and that was as it really hit me that we weren’t going to be back in our home anymore, but once we got to the new house and set to exploring what was in the area/meeting new kids on the block/at school/etc., it wasn’t a big deal anymore.

    My family actually just moved again this last week and out of all of them, my 9 y/o brother is the one who is the least sure how he feels about it. He’s a bit upset about having to leave his friends and he’s not sure about living in the city after having lived in a small town his whole life. But, my parents have done trips to the library and the pool, they’ve got his favourite things out and also just letting him be a bit sad about having left.

  26. B. says...

    I moved as a child and I remember being most concerned about how my bedroom would be with the next family. I was incredibly relieved when my mom told me that my room would stay the same color and not be repainted (whether this was true or falst, i have no idea).

  27. Sesame Street has great resources for teaching kids about a move on their website “For Parents”. Check it out I used to work there and it’s so developmentally appropriate and entertaining :)

  28. As a kid I moved a lot. I moved 12 times by the time I was 10 and most of it was international. It had the potential to be very disorienting but I always thought it was a big adventure I got to be part of. If you don’t treat your kids like they should be upset they probably won’t be. That’s what our parents always did with us :)

  29. From a kids point of view, the fun & adventure angle is a big hit. When I was about 6 and my brother 9 we moved across town, and were allowed to ride in the back of the truck (..obviously this was the 80s) amongst all the house plants, and it felt like a little jungle back there :) I remember it so well. The first night we slept at our aunts and uncles, and when we came home the next day, both of our rooms were decorated and brand new. There were zero complaints on our part, and we loved our new home!

  30. The only tips I know for moving are:
    – make sure you make your bed straight away, so when you’re tired and fed up you can go straight to sleep, not hunt around in boxes for bedding etc.; and
    – when moving a cat, put butter on its paws so it starts cleaning itself, and once it’s finished, it will feel more at home.

    You can try the second tip with the boys …?

  31. My father was in the Navy so we moved several times growing up.

    My brothers and I all handed moving differently.

    However, the one constant that we all loved: bouncy balls. The kind you get from a machine for a quarter? When you show up at the new house and their room is completely empty, or are in the old house with nothing but boxes and walls, nothing is more fun than the only chance you ever get to chuck a bouncy ball around the room without worrying about breaking something. It was always fun to get to do something that was otherwise not allowed :)

  32. This is sweet, but just to highlight the other side of the coin – my family moved at least 10 times before I was 10 years old, across countries, cities and different apartments. My parents were so focused on getting all of their stuff to the next apartment, and yes, there was stress, but my brother and I were either given a chore or we found something to explore or entertain ourselves somehow.
    By all means answer concerns/questions/abate tantrums, but in the end, kids will trust their parents’ decisions and will experience the move for their own little selves without needing much handholding.

  33. Set up Toby’s room and areas first if possible. He will see all of his things and it will put him at ease, even with all the chaos around! Good luck with the move :)

  34. I think moving depends on the child. We moved last summer with my then almost 3 year old and he had a very difficult time, even though we built the house, visited it, were open and honest about the situation, etc. He is just a creature of habit and routine. Being forthcoming I think is important to note but something I had not thought of us decorating his new room like his old room. We had a baby on the way and I was excited to get both rooms decorated when in hindsight our nearly 3 year old would have loved the familiar nature of his old room (same paint, furniture, decorations, etc). And I highly agree with the suggestion of a babysitter on moving day – you will be busy!

  35. I have to say, I do think our generation tends to way overthink this stuff. We moved to a new home with my infant girl and toddler son this past weekend and I was worried that it would be tough on them. But they never blinked – sleep’s fine, behavior’s fine, everything’s fine. They needed a little extra love and reassurance because we were so distracted by all the moving details, but I think that was it. I think if you just pay attention to where they’re at and deal with any concerns that arise, it’ll be fine!

  36. Army Brat here.. moved something like 15 times before I went to college.

    The babysitter thing is good.. probably easier to get things done without kids underfoot.

    I think that a lot of these suggestions promotes a sense that kids are going to experience a trauma from moving to a new home.

    The bottom line is that kids are resilient. I think less focus on moving and acting like it is “no big deal” would be a better tactic. Especially since you aren’t even leaving your city. Certainly he will still be able to visit a lot of the same places and with the same people.. even if the frequency is less due to proximity.

    By over explaining and over soothing.. and making a huge deal about it.. you are projecting anxiety on the kids.

    I think matter of fact and not a lot of overwork on it is best.

    Pretty much.. Hey kids.. we are moving to our new home in x weeks.. We are going to pack up all our stuff so it gets there safe.

    Then, deal with questions as they come. Will I ever get to to to the bakery again?.. etc..

  37. Does Toby not remember the move you did a year ago? Why does the approach have to be so tentative? Good luck though – moving is a huge pain.

  38. We made a cross-country move with our 2 1/2 year old, and the transition was much harder for him than I thought it would be. His behavior was a bit crazy for a few months, and he kept telling me he wanted to go home. I think your plan sounds excellent, as long as you throw in some extra patience and forgiveness in case it doesn’t go as smoothly as you hope. We actually decided to let up on a few aspects of the routine (dinner time and bed time have always been our trickiest, so we became lenient on those for a bit) in order to give the poor guy a break while he was having such a hard time. And he definitely missed his house and commute with us every day more than the people we left behind, which I didn’t expect, either.

  39. Beyond just unpacking your kids essentials – bedding, special loveys, etc. be sure to show them that ALL of their things are there with you in the new place.

    We pretty much did everything you suggested when we moved, had been to the new house at least 5 times with our daughter and she LOVED the excitement of moving day and we thought we were golden – until she woke up screaming at 3am saying she “just wanted to go home”. We got her back to sleep and the first thing we did the next morning was have her help us unpack everything that was hers. We opened the first box and she said “My toys! My toys are here!” and that was it. She really just needed to know that EVERYTHING had come with us, not just her bed and large items.

    Good luck!

  40. Oh come on, moving is part of life as a family. They will be fine — you have enough on your hands. Just give them a box and tell them to carry it!

  41. Wonderful post! We’re moving in a year, and then not to a permanent home– the life of a grad school baby! I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this post.

    I also adore Janet Lansbury. Her blog has made my life so much easier!

  42. Hi Joanna! Good luck with your move. I live nearby and met you last year at one of the playgrounds. Was so nice to meet you in person! I’ve recently discovered Janet Lansbury and have been avidly reading her blog posts (usually on off moments at the playground). Such a coincidence to see you quote her! Best of luck again! xoxo

  43. My husband and I live in Brooklyn and absolutely LOVE it. We’ve visited Carroll Gardens before, and that neighborhood seemed so cute and charming! We even noticed so many kids having lemonade stands on their stoops!! So precious! Very excited for you and your family!


  44. Make it fun! Make it a journey. I remember moving when I was 4… from the West side to the East side. We went to visit the new apartment often and just before the move we had a picnic lunch on the dining room floor on blankets. There was no furniture. It was so much fun!

    My mother sent me away the day of the actual move.

    Years later, grown with my own children I have moved two times. My children were between the ages of 2 – 14 (for both moves.) It’s harder for the older children who have time to develop feelings of attachment and memories, and much easier for the littles.

    I always involved the children – we let them chose paint colors, poured through catalogues such as PBK to get ideas of what they might like and included them in getting some of their furnishings and accessories when they were old enough. For younger children it can be fun to create an element of surprise. Bring them to the house so that they are familiar with it, but then, if possible, decorate their rooms before they move in. To have a child walk into a brand new room can be such a magical thing!

    As always, assure them that their favorite toys, books, animals, blankets, etc will be at the new home. Children are creatures of comfort and they need to know that those things that comfort them most will be there.

    And throw a party… a new house party… Keep it simple – ice cream, cake, balloons! What child doesn’t love a party?

    Best of luck and congratulations!!!

  45. We just moved last July and I have five kids ages 9-1. Honestly, we didn’t have any issues. Kids (or at least my kids) don’t over analyze things and look into things like adults do. They were told we were moving and then we did it. They were asked to help and be a part of it. They were allowed to explore and help decorate and choose their rooms. They loved it! I think the best advice is to not worry and to be Excited! That is contagious and the kids will follow suit.

  46. When we moved from manhattan to Brooklyn (cobble hill!) I planned some play dates with my daughter’s friends in some new fun Brooklyn spots – Carroll park, pacific and Henry playground and blue marble are some immediate thoughts that come to mind. That way she could experience the comfort of old friends with the excitement of new surroundings.
    We also went out to scout out local dinner spots together, so we felt like a family of adventurers. Lucali is a must, and you should also check out Layla Jones and tell Lou that Gillian sent you. Does Toby have a scooter? Take him and Anton to the playground at PS 29. The families there are so friendly.
    I agree with all of the other advice that you’ve listed above. It’ll be awesome.
    Best of luck with your move and your adjustment!

  47. i moved every two years starting at age 10 due to my father’s work. my younger sisters – that’s all they know. it’s a testament to parents today, and to you, that you are thinking about the well being and comfort of your kids during this transition. i can’t say it was traumatic for us, moving so often, but i certainly would’ve appreciated the open communication. it might be a cultural thing, my parents are old-school vietnamese folk and we were brought up to just deal.

  48. Good advice! We were told when moving overseas (or back) that we should make a list of things we wanted to do in a place and make “last visits” before leaving. Moving across town isn’t quite the same, but it’s surprising how much less time you spend in a place only a few miles away once you move. I’ve always appreciated those good byes to favorite places.

  49. I absolutely love that you linked to this book!! It was one of my favorites as a kid and not just when we were moving!

    Good luck!

  50. this is great! i am bookmarking this for future. we have moved continents already twice with the little ones and we have also lived and worked for 2 or 3 months at a time on yet a third continent over the last 6 years. i think that combining the first comment (desiree’s) and the first suggestion on your list has been key for our family, i.e. ensuring that kids know that you are excited about it and committed to it and that this is fun! because ultimately for many of us it really is – in spite of the lingering nostalgia for places we are leaving. i think it has been much harder for me each time then it was for the kids. in your case since you are staying in the city- going back to their favorite park over the first few weeks will remind them that not everything must change and give them continuity, no?

  51. We moved *lots* when I was little (countries, not just houses). I think I was a little bit older than toby is, but one particularly sad move I wrote a letter to our old house. I wrote about why we loved it, and what fun I’d had in it, and then wrote about how I hoped the family moving into it would take good care of it…and then left it in the mailbox. (I seriously doubt anyone ever actually got it, but it meant something to me).

  52. Those are all good!
    Especially unpacking the children’s rooms first. We did that and I think it made a huge difference. Our five and (almost) eighteen month old were both reassured to see that their toys (which we packed together) all made it safely.
    We recently moved from Brooklyn to Baltimore and the hardest part by far has been having to say goodbye to our very good friends. You get to keep those fairly close! Good luck with the move…can’t wait to see photos!

  53. If possible, have the house set up BEFORE your children arrive. Who can you call in for babysitting? Anyone. Honestly it’s so well worth the cost. Moving is uncomfortable, but it is less uncomfortable for small children if they see their new house as a home and not a construction zone. First impressions matter.
    When we moved to London from NYC in March (which I wrote about on my blog, we acutally did a split move. This meant that my husband went over first, our stuff was shipped in a sea container and set up before the girls and I ever set foot on a plane.
    Was living apart from my husband for 2 months ideal? No, but arriving to a fully functioning home with 2 jet lagged, exhausted children was much better than arriving with all of our stuff still in transit.
    Also, before you move, reduce the junk. If you don’t, all those needless trinkets show up in your beautiful pristine new home.

  54. I relocated 4 times with my daughter, the first time she was barely 1, the last time she was 3.5. Three of these moves were accross India, the last one was in the same neighbourhood in Mumbai. I don’t think she really grasped the fact we were moving until that last move, the one that stressed her the most without her understanding a thing was the last of the three moves accross country, mostly because it meant sleeping on air mattresses for three nights with half of her toys gone in boxes. She could not grasp that the toys were not gone forever as she just turned two years old then. The last move, I involved her into packing things, and she was ok with her stuff not being all in the same place for a few days. I think kids pick up on their parents mood too, and the move she was the less OK with was also the one that drained my husband and I the most because we were in a financial pickle and did not really want to move to another city but had to, and I am convinced that even at age 2 our daughter sensed it.

  55. I moved every few years growing up and always remembered it fondly. On moving day, my sister and I had a stack of post it notes to put on all the boxes (meaningless but fun). My mom bought all our favorite treats and juice all in a cooler just for us. Our moves always felt like an adventure!

  56. Did you write this post just for me? HA. We are moving in two days with a 1.5 year old, while I’m pregnant with twins. I feel much more relaxed and confident about it. Great tips!

  57. Oh i also wanted to add that after reading moving books or talking about moving, or even before bed, i liked to ask “do you have any questions about moving house?” that way you will hear about what they are actually concerned about rather than assuming we know already, or that they are thinking the same things we are.

  58. We just did two moves (one international) with two little ones and it was exhausting but we got through it. The best book I found was the Usborne “New House” book. it also comes in a sticker book which was amazing for revisiting it day after day both before and after the move. i use all of their “first experiences” books for my kids bc i think they are awesome. My oldest is 2.5 so we did a lot of play around moving. Lots of duplo towers and playdough mounds became “our 101 house” and anything yellow became “yellow like our new house!”. In the first few weeks in our new house, we still went to our familiar parks and places in our old neighbourhood to ease into it. Also, lots of positive talk about the new things :)

  59. We moved internationally when our daughter was 11 months, and she was totally fine. It didn’t occur to us to take any special precautions and she didn’t notice the difference.

    We plan to move internationally again when she is nearly 5 and this time I am planning it out much more thoroughly – because we are moving to a place that she already knows (Australia) I talk about her family and friends that will be there. I point out the toys that she owns that we WON’T be able to take with us, and all the things we can take… We talk frankly about all the friends she will leave behind and how we might be able to talk to them after we’ve moved. I figure if we normalize it all now, it won’t be a shock when it happens.

    Kids are pretty adaptable. So long as you are happy they are happy, and I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it fun for them in the first few days. It’ll only take that long before they’ve forgotten about the old home. :)

  60. We moved from Va to MI last year when my boys were 3 and 5. It was a bit chaotic, with living with my parents for 4 weeks longer than expected and their Dad being gone for work the whole week instead of being home every night. I was also expecting their little sister. I was stressed. They did great. They adjusted and did well.
    I would, however, say that maybe 3 to 4 months later we experienced some fear issues with my oldest. He grew afraid of things he was never before and insisted that he sleep in our room or near us all the time, sneaking in the middle of the night. I think it was just that after the dust settled, he wanted to make sure everything really was all right. He vocalized some of that, but I talked with some of my friends in the coast guard that move every 4 years and they suggested it was probably post move…

  61. Great timing! We’re moving soon too :-)
    We just moved cross-country into corp housing. I think kids are pretty resilient and adaptable and it’s up to us to lead. It helped that we didn’t dwell on what we were leaving but what we were going to- a fun new place to explore! We made little mention of our “stuff” because we didn’t want to put importance on things but instead that we would all have such fun together. We also talked about it a lot before we actually moved and came for a visit pre-move, which was a really good thing.
    We let our 4yo stay for a bit while the movers packed so he could tell them to take care of his toys, then they were off to grandmas! When we move in to the new place, we will likely unpack and get the place set up before the boys come so it’s less cluttered and stressful.
    Anyway, I don’t have more to add than what’s been said…but I will say…
    Kids react to things differently and may not know how to deal with their feelings (as Janet Lansbury has said). When we first moved, our young boys were so hyper at first and then would have melt downs over nothing. It was all very uncharacteristic and surprising to us. Though they seemed to really enjoy the new city and not want to go back (to our old house), it was still all such a BIG change and a lot to process. They would release their anxiety by meltdowns over unbuttered toast or milk in the wrong cup. ;-)
    Once we realized it and gave them more attention, showed more patience, and continued to explore fun things about our new city, things went back to normal.

    Good luck! xx

  62. Janet Lansbury is brilliant. And yes, a familiar babysitter (if possible) is a lifesaver on moving day. I love your style: big trip, then a move. Keeping it busy and exciting and adventurous. I think you’re helping your kids appreciate what you appreciate–the city, travel, discovering new happenings (across the ocean and the Brooklyn Bridge). Hope you have a few minutes to breathe through all the madness! xoxo

  63. We’re a British family and after 10 years in Africa we’ve just moved to Buenos Aires. And I have to say I think i am the one who is finding it hardest to assimilate, rather than my 3 kids — aged 2, 4 and 6.
    As we gulp down a glass of Malbec after another day spent navigating the metro, buses and temporary apartment we are living in my husband is steadfast in his belief that the worries you say you have for your kids are in fact mostly your own worries. And your kids will, for the most part, manage fine!
    I may be speaking too soon, but so far despite kids in their school speaking a totally alien language they still seem happy to go to school. As my eldest keeps telling me, “Mummy i just say si si si and keep smiling”. Sane advice I am trying to follow from a 6 year old…

  64. i LOVE these tips! thank you guys so much!!!

  65. megan, that is so weird! what a small world!!

  66. I heard a podcast about a mom who drew out anxieties with the kid about starting school. She had him draw what the old school was like and what the new one was like, and what his new friends might look like and all the stuff. I think the idea was that having an activity like that makes it easier for the kids to psychologically talk out any issues they might be bottling up while having it feel like a fun game, not a therapy session.

  67. How weird: I’ve been reading your blog for yeaaaarrs and you just quoted my stepsister Liza! I live in Michigan, she is in Australia. Small world. :)

  68. kz says...

    Read about a young child who was entirely distraught about moving. His parents brought him to the new home and showed him his new room, kitchen, etc. Each time the family talked about moving to the new house the child became disconsolate. Ultimately, the parents discovered that the child assumed he would live in the home as he had seen it, empty of furniture. Poor little one, envisioning life in such a place. We must be very careful with our littles and and try to see the world as they might.

  69. Im an adult and I like to say “goodbye” to a home when I move. I walk from room to room and scoop all the good memories into my heart and say outloud “goodbye house, thank you for everything”

  70. We are moving in a few weeks, my son is around Anton’s age. I will explain to him what is happening and do my best to keep his routine intact and make him feel comfortable in our new place. It is a big move for us, to be closer to family, so I am excited but I know there are a lot of things we will all have to adjust to. Good luck with your move!

  71. We just moved and I took my girls away for the first few hours of the movers in the house. I brought them back at the end (mostly empty house, looking at their things on the truck) just for some closure. I think that was good for them. I also gave them both a stuffed bunny (made by jelly cat) when we arrived to the new apartment. They really love those bunnies and each sleep with their own each night.

  72. This might not help them much, but it might be nice for you to hear: even if it is a stressful few days for your kids, they will adjust VERY quickly to the new house! Also, you might be surprised by how much easier it is to parent your kids when there is a little more room to spread out.

  73. I moved with a three year old a few months ago. The week before we had a “goodbye tour” of the neighbourhood. We said goodbye & took photos at our favourite playgrounds, bakery, bus stop etc. In true little boy style, the idea of a removal truck coming to our apartment was very exciting. We let him watch all our stuff being packed into the truck & when the truck left for our new place we followed it in our car & cheered it on “go truck go!”

  74. Good luck! I don’t have children yet but these tips may come in handy for my self and the hubs during our next move. I am a grown woman and still feel guilty about leaving our last home.

  75. Having the kids’ room as ready as possible, with toys and bedding. Familiar music. We had our babysitter hang out with our son while we were moving with the movers. I wish I could have been with him the whole time. It was more the aftermath that spooked him. For days he was wary about going into other rooms. It was a much bigger space than we had had previously. If I could do it again, I might have included making a little book about the move, what to expect, how great the neigbourhood would be, etc. Good luck!!! You’re moving to a wonderful neighborhood!! Can’t wait to see the new place and hear how the boys and you settle in.

  76. Like other posters, whatever can be prepared for the kids’ room(s) first is good. It’s also helpful for them to be able to hang out in their more prepared room while the rest of the move is happening. We had a babysitter looking after our son while we handled the moving with some movers. We tried to have favourite familiar toys and essentials like bed and bedding right on hand. Having familiar music on an ipod was helpful and a great mood shifter. Still our son (then 1 3/4) was a bit spooked by the move and wouldn’t go in all the rooms right away. Apparently this is quite common. If I could do it again, I would have tried to make a little book to walk through what would happen, and how great his new place would be. Also to make more of a point of hanging out in different rooms after the move so that they all became familiar quickly. Good luck!!! It’ll be a great new chapter, and a wonderful neighborhood for them!

  77. I remember when my family moved the summer before kindergarten. In the old house my bedroom had a small (cotton candy) pink spot on the ceiling in one of the corners of the room. I was really attached to that room and felt badly about leaving and missed my room a lot. Reading this list and finding out that children under 8 are more attached to places and routines makes this make sense.

  78. My nephew was super worried and upset about moving, I think he thought he would get left behind. When we started moving things to his new house, he stayed at the old one. He got more upset with every trip (it was around the block – we moved in a pick-up truck as they lived in Maui).

    Finally, we took him to the new house and I stayed and played with him there while his parents moved the last of the items.

    When he was in the new house he was perfectly content, no longer worried that he would be left behind. Unpacking his toys and having a distraction seemed to help him a lot.

  79. 5. “’Some children may feel guilty about leaving their house behind, as if they might be hurting its feelings,’

    I’m an adult and I still feel like this. I lived in the same house all my life until I moved in with my now husband. We just left our tiny, one bedroom, brick oven of an Arizona apartment two months ago and I still feel guilty. Guess I’d better pay attention to #1 when it comes time to move with kids.

  80. I moved a lot as a kid. My mom would always send us away for the actual moving days. So we got some fun days with grandparents, friends or at camp, and when we came back we got a brand new room! She also involved us in decorating when we got back (furniture was in place, but we got to pick out new window coverings, or new sheets, or decide where to hang pictures). To this day, people say to me, “it must have been hard to move so much” but honestly, I have nothing but positive associations since friends and schools aways stayed the same. It was actually really fun to get a new room every year or so!

  81. My family moved for the first time when I was 8. It was a normal day for me as my brother and I went to school. When we got off school, we went through our normal routine (we went to my dad’s restaurant afterschool everyday). When we got to our new home, our rooms were set up beautifully.

    It probably also helped that my parents brought us house shopping with them and they ended up choosing the one we liked most (because it had a pool!).

  82. A family with three girls 9 and younger just moved. On the two days the movers were there they had me babysit so it wouldn’t be upsetting for the girls to see all the stuff go. By the end of the day they were excited to see how the apartment had changed. Also, when you get to your new neighborhood I would pick one thing you and your child loved (cafe, library, playground) and make an “adventure” of finding the new one. Make “exploring” the new territory a really big deal!

  83. I’m so thrilled you love Janet Lansbury and included her advise. I treasure all of her parenting guidance!

  84. I moved last Christmas with a three year old and a four year old. We did a few things to ease the transition.

    We said goodbye to every room/ special place in our house together as a family. We also had a goodbye picnic take-away on the floor of our old living room as our last meal surrounded by boxes, which made it all rather fun. As others have mentioned above, we too prepared the children’s bedroom as a priority before they came in .

    Even now, they both still talk about the ‘old house’ and for a while afterwards they seemed quite anxious that we might have left something there (eg a minuscule bit of a playmobile set they couldn’t find, etc). I had to really reassure them that we’d brought everything with us to our beautiful new house.

    I won’t deny it though, moving with little ones is hard logistically. But emotionally, I think we worry too much, all they need is their family around them and they will be fine.

  85. So glad to read that you love Janet Lansbury, too! I’ve taught preschools for 8 years, and I can say without a doubt that mutual respect and many of the techniques and ideas she espouses are spot on perfect A+! Best of luck with your move!

  86. We’ve moved several times; once when my oldest was 2.5, then again when he was 3.5 and the babe was 3 months. Some things that worked- take pics and show them to him, explain where his stuff goes, visit if possible, setting the room up ahead of time (we were in boxes in our room for weeks but my son’s room was perfection); and then bringing something super special in that will make their rooms magical. For us it was glow in the dark stars for the ceiling, and we put them up together. At the end of the day though I learned that kiddos are WAY more malleable then we are; I stressed about it the first time and it was NBD. Get the kids to stay somewhere so you can do the legwork ahead of time, and have wine on hand!

  87. I’m a big believer in simple shifts in language. Last month, when we moved with our 4 year old daughter, I was also anxious about how she would deal. She had some anxiety- she wanted reassurance that everything from the cats to the can opener would come to our new home. But in the last few days before the move, we started referring to our old place as our old apartment- not “home.” I’m not sure if it helped, but she did very well! It’s a subtle difference, but I think it took some of the heavy emotional stuff out of the equation. After all, “home” is where we live our lives with the people we love :)
    I recommend letting Toby also “decorate” his moving boxes with markers/stickers if possible.
    Hope this helps! xo

  88. these tips are fantastic. thank you so much, please keep them coming!!!

  89. As the youngest of a family who moved a bunch (5 states before college!), I always remember my parents hyping up the new place to help with the transition. They would show me pictures of my new room and they would let me pick out a paint color. We would also discuss the fun activities I could do in the next place, like going to the neighborhood pool or the playground that would be next to our house. When I was older they let me choose the school I would go to. It made for very easy transitions, and I remember being excited for all our moves.

  90. We made sure that the kid’s new room was ready and beautiful before we moved so when they walked in the door they were so excited at their amazing new bedroom decorated and read for them with the beds made and teddy bears arranged. They weren’t worried that the rest of the house was in transition because they had their cool new space.

    We kept the boxes in one room so it wasn’t overwhelming and messy while we unpacked.

  91. Love Janet Lansbury! Her thinking strikes me as so spot-on, often.

    Good luck with the move…

  92. A trip to the new place so he can tell you how he wants his room set up and hanging his pictures and wall stuff right away will make it feel like home. Also really like the photo album of the place your leaving just for him

  93. Is it possible for you to access the new space before you move? We moved this past winter and spent some time prepping the house (painting, cleaning) before the move and brought our daughter with us a few times. I think spending time at the new place in her new room helped with the transition, plus she was able to see our excitement about the new place unfettered by the stress of moving.

  94. Have you explored the new neighborhood yet? Found a new fave park or restaurant for your date nights with Toby? As much as he might be anxious about losing old favorites, you could get him excited about the new places.

  95. In a way, I think moving can be a really positive character building experience for little ones. I grew up as an Air Force kid, moving every so often, and it has helped me become an adult who adapts easily to my surroundings and learns to appreciate each new place I go while also having fond memories of the places I’ve been. My parents made moving a fun and memorable time (yes, packing boxes can be family bonding!) so don’t forget to focus on the positives of moving. Toby and Anton will thank you one day for providing them with new, exciting places to live!

  96. The first thing I was going to write was that you should read The Berenstain Bears book, but you’re a step ahead of me! I think that story really helped my three year old son when we moved a few months ago.

    Another good piece of advice I got for switching schools that I think applies to moving is frame the move as something you all “get to do.” Then it makes it sound like it’s a special privilege instead of something terrible. “We’re so lucky we get to move to Brooklyn! These are all the things we love in Brooklyn…”

    Lastly, get a babysitter! Having our son around made the move much more stressful because I had to finish packing, help direct the movers, and keep him occupied. Big mistake.

  97. Maybe have a new toy that he has really been wanting in the empty room on the day that you move and he can find it there?

  98. wow this is such good advice (bookmarking for future)!!! I also love the advice that you will also speak to anton who might understand the intention. babies understand SOO much more than we realize and you are a thoughtful and loving parent to understand that! good luck on your move :-)

  99. I’ve always found that treating it as an adventure is a big hit for little ones. Playing up how exciting their new room will be, or something fun to do in their new neighbourhood! We recently moved near the beach, so that was my key to easing my daughter’s transition.

    Wishing you a smooth journey to your new home!!