When you have the urge to move somewhere new, or it becomes a necessity due to work, family, or other obligations, you might be asking yourself: Is moving bad for a child? No matter the distance, moving with kids can be a stressful experience. Uprooting kids of any age — whether they’re toddlers or teens — can be tough on the whole family.
Don’t worry, though! There are many ways to alleviate the anxiety of moving. Here are some ways to make the transition into your new home as seamless as possible for both you and your entire family, including the kiddos.
What To Do Before the Move: The Timeline
These tips will ensure that you and your children are on the same page about the big move. We hope that they will make this big change easier for everyone in the household.
Eight weeks before the move
- Talk to your kids. Sit down with your children and talk to them about the move. By including your children in the conversation early, it will help them prepare for the transition and ultimately put them at ease. Be patient, and don’t be hesitant to listen to and answer any questions they may have.
- Read moving-related children’s books. If you have young kids, try reading them children’s books about the moving process. You can find a wide selection online and at your local bookstore or library. A few good ones to try include: The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day, A New Home, Big Ernie’s New Home: A Story for Young Children Who Are Moving, Tigger’s Moving Day, and Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move.
- Make a family bucket list before hitting the road. Make a list of everything that you want to do prior to leaving your current city or town. Not only will this be fun for the entire family, but it can also help give your children a sense of closure before moving. Throw a goodbye party for your child with a few of their close friends, hike on your favorite local trail, or a take trip to the best restaurant in town one last time.
- Research schools in your new area. If you have school-age children, start researching schools in your new community now. From public and charter schools to private schools, parents typically have a wide array of school options when moving to a new community. To find top-rated schools in the neighborhood, use Moving.com’s School Ratings tool, which includes GreatSchools ratings and other helpful information.
Six weeks before the move
- Research family-friendly activities in your new community. From sports teams and social clubs to summer camps and outdoor attractions, there are plenty of ways for kids to get involved in their new communities. Encourage your kids to learn about the area themselves through guidebooks and online research.
- Notify their current school. Now’s the time to notify school officials of your move. To begin the enrollment process with the new school, make sure all records are transferred as soon as possible. Be sure to also let the new school know about any special requirements your child may have or accommodations they may need.
Two to three weeks before the move
- Visit the new school. If you are moving nearby, try to visit your child’s new school before the move. Schedule a tour of the school, as well as a time to meet with the school’s principal and teachers. Is your child is especially nervous about changing schools? Then, consider bringing them with you on the tour. This way, they’ll feel more comfortable at the beginning of the school year or the new semester.
- Host a goodbye party. Saying goodbye to a community is never easy for anyone, especially young kids. To make it easier for them, host a goodbye party for your children. This will give them a way to properly say goodbye to family members, friends, classmates, and neighbors and gain some closure.
- Arrange for childcare on moving day. Moving with babies or small children? Give yourself a break and arrange for a babysitter to watch your kids at each bookend of the move, or the loading and unloading. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for (or hire) additional help as you get settled.
- Transfer medical records. Contact your child’s healthcare providers to inform their offices of the move. Next, request referrals from their current doctor. Once you’ve made your final selections, arrange to have all medical records transferred to the appropriate physicians. Finally, go ahead and schedule all new doctor and dentist appointments while you’re at it.
The day before the move
- Pack the essentials bag. On the day before the big move, you’ll need to make sure that you have essentials bags packed for your kids, in addition to yourself. (Remember, every family member should have their own.) Items to pack in your baby or child’s bag include diapers and wipes, medications, first-aid kits, clothing, favorite toys, stuffed animals, formula, snacks, sippy cups, bottles, extra pacifiers, iPad with games, blankets, and anything else your little ones need on moving day or immediately after.
- Stay calm. Young children (and even babies) often pick up on their parent’s emotions — especially when the parent is stressed or anxious. Do your best to remain calm and collected during the packing, unpacking, and moving process in general.
What To Do on Moving Day
- Contain your kids. Couldn’t find a babysitter? No childcare on moving day? Then, you’ll need to keep your kids in a contained space. For toddlers, consider putting them in a Pack ‘n Play. Sectioning off a childproofed part of the house with baby gates could be another solution. Whatever you do, make sure your kids are safe during the moving process, and this will keep the movers safe, too.
- Plan for moving-day activities. To keep kids busy and distracted during a move, have a few moving day activities on hand. These could include card games, coloring books, iPad games, and new books to read.
How To Settle In After the Move
Now, it’s time to ease your kids into their new environment with these simple tips:
- Give your kids a house tour. Introduce your kids to the new house, apartment home, or condo by giving them a tour and letting them explore on their own. Make sure to point out unique, fun features, such as hidden doors or stairwells, great backyard trees for climbing, and more.
- Unpack your kid’s room first. Having their old bed, familiar toys, and favorite books in their new, designated room will make them feel at home faster. It will also create a calm, safe space for your child during a relatively chaotic time in all of your lives.
- Let your kids pick the decor and/or paint color. If your kids are old enough, and it makes sense in your situation, let them pick out the paint color for their new room and decide how the room will be set up.
- Keep their routine going strong. Consistency is key. It’s especially important for those with babies or toddlers to keep their routines (i.e. meals, playtimes, nap times, activities, etc.) as consistent and normal as possible. This will allow your kids to feel secure and keep you sane.
- Set up a playground in the backyard. From basketball goals and trampolines to swing sets and zip lines, set up outdoor activities for your kids. Keeping them busy and entertained will give you more space to unpack the house.
- Meet the neighbors. Find out if there are other kids in the neighborhood around the same age as your own children. Once your children find playmates, they won’t feel as lonely and isolated in their new environment.
How Your Kids Can Help Your Family Move
Giving kids some of their own moving-related responsibilities can help keep them occupied and entertained. You never know, they might even enjoy having more purpose with the big transition. Get started with these suggestions below.
- Allow them to have input while house hunting. Let your kids voice their opinion on where you’ll be living, show them the listings, and take them to viewings. It will keep things positive and give your kids a sense of involvement and transparency, showing them that their family values their input.
- Let your kids help you declutter. The less you own, the less you’ll have to haul to your new home. It’s as simple as that! Involve your kids in the process of sorting through their belongings. Anything they no longer play with or wear can go into two piles: toss or donate. Anything broken, old, stained, or worn down can be tossed. Then, teach your kids the importance of giving back to their community by letting them choose which items to donate. Don’t forget to double check both piles and make sure nothing your child will miss ended up where it shouldn’t be.
- Let them help you pack and clean. Ask your kids to pack their own essentials bag. (Just give them a checklist if they’re not sure what to pack.) They can also clean out the fridge, wipe down surfaces, and vacuum. Friendly reminder: Make sure the cleaning tasks don’t involve any chemicals that are considered hazardous. You’ll still need to inspect and perhaps even supervise parts of the process, but with these tasks passed on to your kids, at least some of the work will get finished.
- Allow your kids to be in charge of unpacking their own rooms. Books, toys, clothes, and shoes can all be unpacked by your kids. Older children can start setting up the room by filling the bookshelves and closets, making up their beds, and unpacking and setting up their bathrooms.
Tips for Moving Cross Country With Your Kids
Moving cross country is no easy task, and moving cross country with kids is even more difficult. To ease the process — and even have some fun along the way — we recommend the following:
- Plan your driving route before you start driving
- Eat somewhere fun at least once
- Take a scenic route if you’re not in a hurry
- Plan for some fun stops, like historic towns, quirky attractions, and national parks
- Use driving apps, like Google Maps or Waze
- Budget honestly for gas, meals, overnight stays, incidentals, and emergencies
- Book your overnight stays in advance to save money and avoid unpleasant surprises
- Get your car serviced before the drive
- Stock up on snacks for everyone, plus plenty of water
- Bring a cooler for perishables
- Pack extra toilet paper, wipes, and garbage bags
- Download videos and movies for entertainment
- Bring an iPad and headphones
- Pack toys, books, and coloring materials
- Play games, like I Spy, while driving
- Take lots of photos to remember the trip in the future
The Cross Country Packing List for Babies and Toddlers
- Car seat
- Car seat organizer for snacks, etc.
- Changes of clothes
- Portable potty (if potty trained)
- Pack ‘n Play
- Sippy cup
- Coloring books
How To Childproof Your New Home
For those with babies or toddlers, you will have to figure out how to quickly childproof your home before anyone gets hurt. While you’re busy unpacking, you know the little ones are going to be busy exploring the new home and seeing what kind of trouble they can get into. So, these simple tips will help you childproof your new home immediately.
- Pack and clearly label your childproofing box. We recommend packing all the childproofing basics that you’ll need together. Think of outlet protectors, baby gates, toilet and cabinet locks, doorknob locks, or anything else you regularly used for childproofing in your previous home.
- Arrange for childcare. Hopefully, you had help on the two moving bookends we mentioned earlier, but what about immediately after you move? Maybe, you can find a babysitter — or a family member — to watch your kids for a few hours while you childproof your new place.
- Store your unpacking materials away from your kids. Things, like box cutters and scissors, should always be kept out of your children’s reach. Set aside a separate space for storing these items as you unpack, such as a tall cabinet, a spare bedroom, or the garage. Be sure to install a cabinet or doorknob lock wherever you safe keep these hazardous items.
- Gate off the no-go areas. While you work to get your new home safe for your kids, make sure to gate off the no-go areas that aren’t secured yet. If you’re working on getting the second floor childproofed, for example, gate off the stairs and use another gate to keep your kids confined to one space, such as the living room. You’ll need to make sure someone is in the room with your very young children, as well.
- Cover up the outlets. Use outlet protectors in every room. Most importantly, keep all the areas with unprotected outlets off limits until they are covered.
- Check the windows. Make sure all windows are securely locked and/or have screens on them. Keep boxes and furniture away from the windows, so that your kids can’t climb on them. Tie them up and far out of reach, particularly if the window blinds have longer hanging cords. You can also install window stops that will prevent your windows from opening too widely.
- Secure the kitchen right away. The kitchen is typically replete with potential hazards, so tackle it first. Store breakables, sharp objects, and small appliances with electrical cords in high cabinets — even if temporarily — before you find permanent homes for them in your kitchen. Put knob protectors and/or locks on your oven, stove, and low cabinets where kids can reach.
- Do the same in the bathroom. Install door or cabinet locks on the bathroom door(s) or any cabinets you’re using to store bathing products, cleaning products, or sharp objects. Keep all medications out of reach and cap your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent any scalding water from coming through the faucets by accident.
- Be on the lookout for potential hazards. Think like a kid and imagine what you’d like to get your hands on. Even if you think the coast is clear, survey each room and inspect it for loose screws or nails, choking hazards, or anything you might have missed the first time around.
The Dos and Don’t of Moving With a Baby or Toddler
Got a baby or a toddler on your very busy hands? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do while moving.
- Do get help. Hire childcare on moving day, for both the old and the new home. Don’t say no out of fear of being an inconvenience if a family member or a friend can take your child overnight or even for a few hours. Your baby will be safer that way, and you’ll get more done and feel less anxious.
- Do bring a Pack ‘n Play with you. Make sure you have something to contain your little one before, during, and after the move. For many, this is typically some type of Pack ‘n Play, which can double as a portable crib.
- Do pack a moving day essentials bag for the baby. Every family member should have an essentials bag, including your baby or toddler. So, pack the necessities that you’d pack in a diaper bag, plus their favorite toys. The essentials bag should be placed in an easy-to-reach spot throughout the moving day, making it easy to access for anyone.
- Do remain calm during the move. It might be easier said than done, but it’s important that you remain calm during your move. Kids pick up on their parent’s anxiety. Not to mention, moving is just chaotic and stressful, disrupting routines and making your kids anxious on their own. If you remain calm, your kids might calm down a little, too.
- Don’t pack your baby or toddler’s belongings too early. We recommend waiting to pack your baby or toddler’s items a week or so before the move, as you’ll be using their gadgets and toys until then. When the time comes, label each box clearly. That way, they’ll all end up where they need to be in the designated nursery or bedroom.
- Don’t wait to unpack the nursery or bedroom. Unpack and set up your baby or toddler’s nursery or bedroom as soon as you move in. In addition to the kitchen and bathroom, the nursery should be a top priority. You’ll want to make sure the furniture is set up, the boxes are unpacked, and the room is baby-proofed. This will give your baby or toddler a safe, serene place to sleep and will help them adjust to the move more quickly.
- Don’t put your baby or toddler in a truck rental. Truck rentals are equipped with airbags and considered safe for adults, but they may not meet the requirements for car seats. It’s typically recommended that you fly with your baby or toddler, or drive them in your own car to your new home.
How To Help Your Kids Adapt to a New School
If moving requires a change of schools, it can be especially tough on your kids. Familiarity and routine are comfortable, so leaving it all behind can cause stress and anxiety. As a parent, you want to help ease the transition as much as possible. Fortunately, there are quite a few actions that you can take to speed up the process and help kids adapt to a new school more quickly. Read on!
- Discuss the move (and school switch) transparently. Give your child time to process this big change by having an open, honest conversation about what the move means for them, especially when it comes to school. We recommend taking this step as early as two months before the move. Answer any questions, listen to their concerns, and provide reassurance. It won’t erase all the anxiety, but your kids will know you’re there for them.
- Stay positive. Play up the exciting aspects of the transition and discuss all the advantages of changing schools and the move in general. The more enthusiasm you bring to the table, the more your child will associate the move with positivity. Just keep it genuine!
- Let your kids choose. Give your kids some input in choosing their new school, if it’s a possibility. Another way to have your kids feel some control over the situation is to let them pick out some new school supplies and a backpack before the first day.
- Keep the routine. Try to keep the morning and evening routine the same as it was when your child was attending their former school. It will add some familiarity to the situation and keep everyone, including yourself, on track.
- Get active at your child’s school. Get involved in the new school yourself. Sign up to be a class parent or a PTA member, or volunteer at school events. Engaging with your kid’s new school is a way to tackle this adventure together.
- Sign your child up for an extracurricular activity. Another way to help your kid form new friendships is to sign them up for after-school activities, like sports, music, or theatre. Help them choose one or more hobbies they might enjoy and get them enrolled as soon as you can.
- Be patient. This transition may be rocky for a while, and it might take your kiddos a longer time to adjust than you initially expect. Give your child space and lots of love while they grapple with a new and slightly scary situation. Be supportive, be present, and be a non-judgmental shoulder for your child to lean on.
Tips on How To Meet Other Parents After the Move
Moving can be lonely and unsettling for adults, too. You don’t know your new community, and you’re far from the ones you love in many instances. Like many, you might not always be confident when meeting new people, making the transition hard. But you, like your child, can come out of your shell to meet people and become part of the community. Here is how.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. Explore your new community through the things there are to do. Whether signing your kid up for Scouts or visiting a local pottery studio, don’t be afraid to engage in local activities and grow your personal and parental networks in your new city or town.
- Volunteer wherever you can. Volunteering feels awesome, and it is a surefire way to meet other people. Involve your child if they’re old enough, and pick some causes you’d like to support within your community — be it a food bank or foundation for the arts.
- Visit local attractions. You can meet new people at the vibrant attractions your new home offers to its residents. Hike a favorite local trail, visit a beloved museum, or take the kiddos to play laser tag at a gaming center, and you’re sure to strike up a conversation with someone and potentially form new bonds and even friendships.
- Meet your neighbors. Neighbors are wonderful advocates to have in your corner in case anything goes wrong at home. Plus, they may have children themselves. Many could even offer suggestions on which child-friendly places and activities could be found nearby. Think fairs, festivals, parks, and so on!
- Throw a housewarming party. Invite your neighbors, other parents from school, and people you’ve met through your activities. It’s a fun way to let everyone know that you’re here and intend to become a part of the community.
FAQs About Moving With Your Kids
How early should I tell my kids we’re moving?
We recommend having this very important conversation as early as two months before the move. Put yourself in your kid’s shoes, be there for them in the ways you can, address their concerns, and answer any questions.
How can I help my child during the move?
Be honest, open, and supportive. To give them purpose, ask them to complete certain tasks that are both easy and rewarding, such as packing their room. When you arrive at your new home, let them have some control over the process by allowing them to decide where the furniture goes in their new room or what color to paint the walls. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to lend an ear whenever they want to discuss anything move-related and make sure there’s a way for them to stay in touch with their friends.
Is moving bad for a child?
Fundamentally, no. While moving can be hard for anyone, even adults, the process will push your child out of their comfort zone, encourage them to explore new things, and add to their list of life experiences. They might even find that they prefer their new home, whether it’d be the activities in the area, the landscape and climate, or the friends they make.
Ready To Move?
Need help moving with your kids? Try hiring a professional moving company. To find a reliable moving company, check Moving.com’s extensive network of movers. Our website makes it easy to find and book the best moving company for the job. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move is in good hands.
Last, but certainly not least, our team thought you might want to check out these additional guides and articles related to moving with kids.
Moving With Kids Checklist
15 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home With Kids
12 Best Places to Raise a Family in the U.S.
6 Benefits of Moving to the Suburbs
How To Move Your Child’s Nursery
How To Move With a Toddler
How To Create a Babyproof Plan Before the Move
10 Tips for Unpacking With a Baby
The Moving Essentials Bag: Why You Need It, and What to Pack
A Checklist for Moving Out of State – Moving to Another State
How to Establish Residency in a New State
Tips for a Smooth Move – How To Move Smoothly
Moving Self-Care Tips: 15 Ways To Stay Sane While Moving
25 Cross-Country Moving Tips That Will Save Your Sanity
13 Cheap Ways To Move Across the Country