cross-country moving with kids in tow

Moving from Iowa to Montana (two years ago)

Our days here in remote Montana are numbered and yet as we tick the days off of the calendar in anticipation, we feel like life is moving in slow motion.  We are doing so much to prepare and yet I feel like we’re wading in a pool of molasses.

Cross-country moving and even hopping a few states over is nothing new for us.  When the boys were only eight months and two years old, we packed up our household to move from California to Iowa.  Two years ago, we moved our family of five plus two cats to rural Montana.  And now here we are again.  Colorado, we can’t wait to get to know you better!

Blog posts on moving and moving with kiddos is nothing new.  What we do to prepare is nothing earth shattering, but we’ve learned a few things to smooth the way:

1. This is not meant to sound preachy, religious, or in any way ethereal. However,  before doing anything “practical” I am finding that determining a “spiritual purpose” for our move sets the tone for the next few months.  This time around, we’re aiming for harmony and a sense of joy.  I personally want to be unflappable as we work through obstacles (and you know there are always lots of those when you move!).  If what we do has no spiritual purpose, it really has no purpose at all.

2. Mind sweep.  I get a notebook that becomes my brain dump where I write down anything that I think needs to be done.  That way, I don’t have to worry about forgetting something.  I keep my notebook handy in the kitchen since its centrally located in our house.  As I go throughout the day, I jot down items that randomly come to mind that we will need on moving day or in temporary housing (we typically move to a new area, stay in temp housing for two months, and then move into a more permanent abode).

3. Purge!  We are in purging mode now.  After several moves with kids in tow, I have to admit that I’ve become quite merciless.  First, I take a black garbage bag and walk around the house tossing things that I know are not donation worthy.  Then I collect things to give away.  Clothes that don’t fit or are in poor condition are out the door.  Toys that haven’t been played with also go, unless they are truly special to the kids.  Kitchen items that I don’t use (or multiples of the same item) are under scrutiny, too.  A la William Morris, if its not useful , beautiful, or highly sentimental then its out the door.  I try to give stuff to friends, thrift stores, or Goodwill (if available….our current isolated town doesn’t have one).  I almost never do yard sales.  I detest them, honestly.  They take too much time to organize and you don’t typically make enough money to justify the time investment.  We have found that getting a receipt for items donated and then recording these on our taxes is more advantageous.

"Have nothing in your house that you
do not know to be useful or believe
to be beautiful."

                   - William Morris, British craftsman, poet,and designer
                      who is credited for generating the Arts & Crafts movement

4. Help the kids adjust.  Show them photos of your soon-to-be new town or city online.  Look at maps.  Let them help with packing.  Since we are in temp housing for a bit, we’ll give our three Sprouts their own file boxes (“treasure boxes”) to decorate and fill with a few choice toys.  And now that the boys are older than with past moves, they will have a chores list during moving week to keep them busy.  We also taught them to play Monopoly this past weekend to give them a better idea of what buying houses is all about.  For an eight and six year old, it was fascinating stuff, I tell you!

5.  Prep for the packers. Packers label boxes per room, so if you’re going to want to unpack all of your books together, for example, go ahead and put them in the same room of your existing house.  Another trick we’re going to try is a tip I picked up from a military mom.  We’re putting small miscellaneous items (like the small stuff in drawers and small pieces to the kids’ toy sets) in 2 gallon Ziploc bags.  It saves the packers time and will save you from unwrapping every. single. little. thing. once you’re in your new digs.

6.  Free play.  Once we’re in our new abode and in unpacking mode, the kids will get to play with the empty moving boxes for a bit.  We’ll get fresh packs of markers and let them go to town.  I must admit that my Type-A self can only stand this for so long.  Its a good distraction for a little while , though!

What are your tips for moving with kids in tow?


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