Life doesn’t stop just because you’re moving. You still need to show up at your job, the dog still needs to get walked, and the kids still need your care and attention. And while you can’t do much about incorporating your job or your pets into the move, your kids can certainly get involved. Giving your kids some of their own moving responsibilities—provided they’re within their skill set—keeps them busy and entertained, and many kids love to help out with “adult” tasks around the house. So don’t just turn on the TV and distract your little ones—give them something to do. Here are 8 ways kids can help move.
The first stage of moving is finding another place to live. Let your kids provide some input on where you go next by taking them along when you’re looking at houses or apartments or letting them browse listings with you. You’ll learn some important insight from them about what they consider to be the perfect home, and you’ll get an extra set of eyes for evaluating what you find. It’s one of the best ways kids can help move, and helps put a positive spin on the upcoming transition. When you finally do move in to your new home, your kids will feel that much better about it knowing they had a say in where you chose (even if that say was more figurative than literal).
Getting rid of stuff
The cardinal rule of moving: bring less. Moving is one of the best opportunities we have for paring down our belongings and only holding on to the things that really matter to us or serve a necessary function. And if you’re a parent, in addition to editing down your own things you’ve also got to tackle all your kids’ thing—including, unfortunately, that overflowing Lego bin. Involving your kids in this organizational stage isn’t just a great way to take some tasks off your plate; it’s also a fantastic opportunity for teaching your kids about the importance of giving back. Explain that a lot of kids aren’t as fortunate and don’t have as many toys and books. Then give them a box and tell them to fill it with things they no longer play with or use so another child can have them. You can go together to drop them off at a donation site. Just be sure to sift through the items they choose so you don’t accidentally end up donating your driver’s license or spare set of car keys.
Mapping out their new room
Draw an outline of what their new room will look like and ask them to draw how they’d like to arrange it, including where they’d like to put their furniture. You probably won’t get a blueprint you can follow directly, but you’ll get some good ideas about how they’d like their room to be set up, such as their bed under the window or a special reading nook in the corner.
Labeling and decorating boxes
If your child can write, give them the all important job of labeling boxes. In addition to noting where the box goes, they can also decorate the boxes with markers. Ask them to draw some of the items that are inside the box, or just to doodle as they please. Having a designated labeler doesn’t save you a ton of time, but it does keep your kids busy and involved while you’re focused on packing.
Even toddlers can lend a hand when it comes to things like wiping down surfaces and sweeping out corners. Assign your kids cleaning tasks appropriate for their age and have them get to work making the house look nice for the next person moving in. The older kids are, the more heavy duty tasks they can take on. By middle school, your kid should be perfectly capable of things like vacuuming and wiping the fridge clean. Just don’t pass on any cleaning tasks that involve chemicals, as those are best left to the grownups.
Packing up their essentials bag
Each member of the family should pack an essentials bag, which includes all the items they’ll need in the days right before and right after the move. For your kid, that will mean things like their toothbrush and toothpaste, pajamas, favorite blanket or stuffed animal to sleep with, favorite book, and any other regular necessities. For children who can read, provide a checklist of items they’ll need to pack in their essentials bag so they can make sure to include everything. If your child can’t read yet, just tell them to go for it. You’ll definitely need to make some changes to the bag after it’s done (probably no need to pack a pair of sparkly dress shoes in there), but at least some of the work will be done for you.
Once you’re moved in to your new place get your kids involved in the unpacking process. Put them in charge of unpacking things in their own room, such as the books on their bookshelf or the clothes in their dresser. Keep in mind that you can always rearrange, and it’s an easy fix if they put something in a not-quite-ideal spot. Throughout the rest of the house you can have them help bring items to the rooms where they need to go, telling them to just leave things on the counter or floor so you can put them away later.
Moving is a big transition, and it can be stressful on kids. By keeping them involved, you distract them from what could be a scary undertaking and help them feel like they have a little bit more control over the situation. And with so much to get done, there are plenty of ways kids can help move.
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