Moving with Kids: How to Help Children Transition

Guide to moving with children 

Lots of energy goes into any long-distance move — packing, preparing, and planning for life in your new city. But if you have children, you’re also likely to spend time answering questions and calming fears. Don’t stress! These 12 tips will help make sure you and your family are ready for anything.  

We’ve got extra steps for caring for infants during a move! Check out our guide to moving with babies

Family with young son and a dog sitting among moving boxes.

 

Top 12 tips for moving long distance with kids  

Talk to them about the move 

As soon as you have information about the move, tell your kids so they can start adjusting to the idea. Younger kids may need more explanation about what moving means, but older kids and teens will still need details about what day you’re moving, where you’re going and why you made this decision. The sooner they know what’s happening, the better it will be in the long run. Even if your kids are excited, it’s still a change they’ll need to get used to.  

Use a family-friendly moving service 

Not all moving options will work for your family’s situation. For example, you may not want to use a rental truck if you have kids in car seats or if you don’t want to split the family up during the drive. A moving option like U-Pack — where you get the cost-savings of packing and loading your belongings but are free to drive together in a personal vehicle — may be a better option. Learn more about how U-Pack works.   

Involve them in as many decisions as possible 

While many things will be outside of your child’s control, letting them have a say in some decisions can be really helpful. Get their opinion on things like which room they want in the new house or who they want to tell about the move first. Small decisions will help them feel more involved.  

Give them age-appropriate tasks  

Along with making decisions, tasks and chores can let your kids be part of the process. Ask toddlers to hand you books and toys while you pack them in boxes, have older kids sort through their belongings to decide what to take, and ask everyone to help with other small tasks along the way. Even simple things like vacuuming an empty room, labeling boxes or putting garage sale stickers on items you’re selling can help kids feel in control.  

Tell them about exciting things in the new town 

One of the easiest ways to help children get used to the move is to get them excited about the new place. If they love their gymnastics or piano lessons, find a new place for them to continue old hobbies. Or look for new things they’ve never had a chance to try. Knowing positive things about the new town can help them cope with leaving stuff behind.  

Find ways to make moving fun  

With so much to do before a move, it can be easy to forget to have a little fun along the way. Turn packing into a game by seeing who can put the most stuffed animals (or other durable item) in a box, or have kids race to see who can get a window clean first. Even small competitions can relieve some of the stress while still letting you mark things off the to-do list.  
 
If you have a long trip to the new house, you can make travel fun, too. If you know in advance which towns are best along the route for breaks, search for parks or things to see along the way. Use these tips to turn your move into a fun family road trip. Or get ideas for avoiding the “are we there yet?” question with these 26 kid-friendly road trip games.  

Make a plan for moving day 

Decide in advance if you want your kids there on moving day or if it’d be easier to have them stay with a family member or friend. It may be easier to have a sitter for toddlers and babies (even if the sitter comes to your home) so you can focus on everything else. School-aged kids can help watch pets or do some small moving tasks, and teens can be a big help with loading things into the moving equipment.   

Have them read books about moving (or read to them) 

A book can help your child understand what to expect and prepare them for what’s to come. Grab one of these age-appropriate books from a library or bookstore: 

Moving books for toddlers 

  • The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day – Stan and Jan Berenstain 

  • Bad Bye, Good Bye – Deborah Underwood and Jonathan Bean 

  • Moving to the Neighborhood – Alexandra Cassel and Jason Fruchter 

  • We’re Moving – Heather Mainser 

Moving books for school-aged children 

  • When You Are Brave – Pat Zietlow Miller 

  • Hey, New Kid! – Betsy Duffey 

  • The Emotions’: Survival Guide – Walt Disney Company 

  • Moving to Bigcityopolis – Derek L. Polen 

Moving books for teens 

  • 10 Dos and Don’ts When You’re the New Kid – J.C. Tilton 

  • The Essential Moving Guided Journal for Teens – Sara Elizabeth Boehm 

  • The Year My Life Went Down the Loo – Katie Maxwell 

  • How to Make Friends: For Teens – Jennifer Love 

Find outlets for their emotions   

It’s normal for younger children to show disruptions in things like sleep or toilet training during a move, and older children may withdraw or act out while they process changes. Help your kids adjust by finding ways to release pent-up energy and talk about how they’re feeling.  

Ideas include doing daily physical activities with the whole family, spending time outside in the fresh air and sun, having weekly family meetings to discuss concerns, letting them write you a letter about how they’re feeling, and sticking to your normal routine as much as possible. Anything you can do to show kids that their core family unit is still there for them and that they can talk to you about anything stressful or scary will go a long way towards making the transition easier.  

Note: If you feel your child needs additional emotional support, please reach out to a healthcare provider to discuss your options.  

Let them say goodbye 

There are many ways to say goodbye to friends and family before a move, but your kids may have an idea of how they want to go about it. Depending on how much notice you have and what time of year you’re moving, they may need a chance to contact teachers or friends they thought they’d see the next school year. Consider letting them call, video chat, write letters or visit in person with anyone they want to say goodbye to. And find ways for them to stay in contact with anyone they’ll want to remain close with.   

Tour the new town ASAP 

Take time to drive around town as soon as you can after arrival. If you’ve moved to a new state, this may be the first time your kids had a chance to see anything, and it can help them get oriented in the new place. Make sure to drive by their new school and see how close the nearest park is. And maybe check out the local pizza place for dinner.  

Have them personalize their new space 

If possible, let your child decide how they want their new room to look. Get ideas for general themes or color ideas and have them help make the space their own. Ask them where they’d like their furniture to be, too!   

Share your tips with us!  

If you’ve moved with kids before, let us know what helped the most! Every child is different, so we’re always looking for more suggestions to help families have the easiest move possible. If you have any tips you’d like to share, questions about the ones we’ve included, or want to know more about U-Pack moving options, leave a comment below. We can’t wait to hear from you!    

Want help keeping track of all your moving tasks? This long-distance moving checklist can help