Moving is stressful. Moving with kids, as you probably already know, can be even more stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. We promise.

There are several things—8, to be specific— you can do to help you and your kiddos stay organized and make happy memories during this big life transition.

These things revolve around two main themes: preparation and transition.

Consider the following eight tips that can help you and your family prepare for and transition into your new home.

Moving with Kids: The TL;DR

Moving with kids can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are our 8 tips to have a happier, easier move with your kids.

1. Pack like you’re going on a week-long vacation

2. Ask someone to watch your kids, even for a few hours

3. Keep your kids occupied

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

5. Create both a general and a detailed schedule

6. Get rid of unneeded things

7. Prep your food

8. Help your kids transition emotionally

1. Pack like you’re going on a week-long vacation

Unpacking is going to be the last thing you’ll want to do the night you move everything into your new home. And most likely the following week is going to move a little jerkier as you get used to a new home environment, driving routes, and routines. So give yourself a break and pack up suitcases of essentials for everyone moving.

Remember to bring several sets up pajamas for the kids, a few changes of clothes, socks, shoes, toiletries, toilet paper, towels, favorite blankets, toys, and stuffed animals, bottles, diapers, dishes, some minimal cookware, and a first aid kit.

If your kids are still taking naps, make sure their crib or Pack n’ Play can be easily found and set-up first when you move. This way everything that you need for getting up and running in your new home will be close at hand and you won’t be pressed for time to unpack.

2. Ask someone to watch your kids, even if it’s just for a few hours

Hiring a babysitter or asking a family member or friend to watch your kids during the move will make this transition much easier on you and your family. This is crunch time for you, so it can be stressful but also confusing or upsetting to your kids. It’ll be much easier on everyone if you can have someone else watch them for a good chunk of the day.

You may also be able to schedule your move while your kids are at school. If that doesn’t work, let them go to a friend’s house for the afternoon. You can then focus on the move, even for a few hours, and get a lot of the hectic work out of the way while you’re kids are safe and happy in someone else’s care.

3. Keep your kids occupied

If you’re unable to set up a sitter and will have to watch the kids during move-day, make a quick plan on how to keep them occupied in case you need to set your attention to a moving task.  Plan out time for them to watch a movie, place them in a highchair with a time-consuming snack.

Keep a few coloring books and crayons unpacked, or a stack of their favorite books so that they can have an out-of-the-way activity while people are moving in and out of the house. Schedule your move during their naptime, or set up some of their favorite toys in a playpen so that they can stay safe, happy, and busy during the move.

If your kids are a little older, ask them for their help, but keep a few items from their favorite hobby or activity unpacked so they can break up the long moving day.

4. Ask for help

Much of parenthood is learning how to care for dependents but also how to humbly and healthily depend on others. Your move is a great time to practice both these things and ask for help.

Movers can help you get the job done quickly and efficiently, friends can assist with packing, cleaning, loading or unloading, and family can give you support where needed. So don’t hesitate to ask for help during your move. It’s a big job and there are several options that can take some of the weight off your shoulders.

With 4.8 out of 5 stars on over 100,000 moves, you might say we’re the best in the business.

5. Create both a general and a detailed schedule

Your move won’t go exactly to plan. Part of what makes moving stressful is the unexpected bumps in the road. But, what you can do to make these bumps as non-jarring as possible is give yourself plenty of time and plan what you can.

Create a general schedule to help you stay on course, understanding that you may have to make adjustments along the way. On this general schedule include when you’re planning on packing each room of the house, transferring your utilities, hiring movers, setting up babysitting, transferring your kids to a new school, etc.

Once you’ve written a rough-drafted general schedule, create a more detailed list of what you want to accomplish in the upcoming weekdays. When making these detailed lists and schedules, try to think in terms of 5, 10 or 20-minute increments. For longer tasks, break them down into 5 or 10-minute sub-tasks. This way, you can chip away at your list while you’re kids are, for example, eating breakfast instead of getting involved in a huge project at a bad time.

6. Get rid of unneeded things

You will notice when you move how much stuff you have. And you will also realize that you didn’t miss a lot of those things tucked away in closets, attacks, and the garage. Think about how you want your new home to feel, and decide what you want to bring into that home and what should move on to someone else’s.

If you do find toys that your kids don’t like anymore, clothes they’ve outgrown or don’t wear, try to box them up for donations discreetly. You can easily slip these unwanted items into a goodwill box for drop off, knowing that your kids will be just as happy with their very favorite toys in the new home.

If your kids are a little older, let them go through their own rooms and make two piles – things they have used recently, and things they haven’t. Then go through the pile they haven’t used recently and donate the items that won’t be needed in the future.

7. Prep your Foods

Pack a cooler of apples, veggies, yogurts, string cheese, sandwiches, sippy cups, etc. for the kids to grab ready-made instead of asking you to make them a snack while you’re trying to direct move-day. Grabable snacks in a cooler are a must if you want to stay focused on your move.

But don’t forget that the job of moving isn’t quite done until you’re unpacked. During this process, it’s hard to pause and take time to cook dinner. As a solution, consider ordering take-out or getting a pizza that first night. You can also, in the time before your move, prepare freezer meals that will save you hours of time once moved in. Easy freezer meals can be prepped as your cooking dinner. Just double the recipe and freeze half!

These prepped meals work great with recipes like soups, casseroles, wraps, and burritos, even leftover French toast that you can pop in the toaster for a quick breakfast! If you want to add a special treat for your kids in their new home, prep some cookie dough. You can freeze the cookie dough balls on some parchment paper and then throw them in a freezer-bag so you can whip out fresh baked cookies during a fun and relaxing family movie night!

8. Help your kids transition

Moving to a new home can be hard and unsettling, especially for kids. So add to your general schedule some time to help your kids transition, using the following list for some ideas.

  • Show them around the house. Help them get acquainted with the new space and explain to them that you’ll be moving into a new home and that they get a new room. Depending on your children’s personalities, some may be excited by the idea of a new change; some may be fearful or worried about change. So try to not overwhelm your kids during the introduction. For your best bet, calmly and happily explain this new transition to them, answer any questions, and let them explore to the level of their individual comfort. You can also take them to a nearby park or for a bike ride around your new neighborhood to help them associate their new house with fun, safe, and happy family activities.
  • Appeal to their imagination. Tell your kids stories or read them books about families moving to a new home. Oftentimes, children can learn lessons or better anticipate upcoming events through story and characters. By telling them positive and realistic stories that will review not only the steps of what a move looks like, but also hope for new friendships and experiences, you’ll help your children feel much more at ease and maybe even excited for their new home!
  • Help them make new friends. Set up a play date before or soon after the move. If your kids are a little older, see if you can set up a time for them to meet some kids their age from the neighborhood, from their new school, communities, or clubs. Plugging your kids into the community will help significantly in their transition to all the newness.
  • Have a moving-away party. Give you kids the opportunity to say goodbye to their friends as well. If this is a really big struggle for your kids, before you move, plan another get-together. Even if its months out, kids feel a lot better with the assurance that they’ll see their friends again.
  • Help them stay in touch. Buy postcards with them so that they can keep in contact with their old friends. Help them write a few letters or draw some pictures to send by mail. If your kids are still little, they’ll love checking the mail with you and seeing if their letter has been answered! In this way, you can help your kids understand that, even when we’re far away from someone, we can still stay connected.
  • Let them have input. Take a few days when unpacking to help your kids decorate and set up their own rooms. Letting your kids have input will help them feel more positively about their new home. Decorating their own space is a big entrusted freedom parents can give to their kids, and it will definitely be a meaningful memory if you are willing to let them be involved. Let them pick out something exciting for their room (a new game, a new bedspread, maybe even a new pet, like a hamster or fish). They may be much more excited to have a new bedroom if you let them paint it in their favorite pink.
  • Consider their traditions and routines. Try to keep your kids on the same routines when you move into your new house. This will provide them with some familiarity, stability, and comfort when much of their life has changed.
  • Fill your new home with happy memories. Plan a pizza and movie night for the first evening in your new home. This will be a win-win situation for you and the kids, since you’ll be tired from moving, not wanting to make dinner, or planning a high-energy activity. Let your kids have their friends over so they can show them their new room. Go on family bike rides around the neighborhood, or camp out in the backyard and roast marshmallows. By setting aside even a little time in the evenings to do something fun as a family, you will help to fill your kids hearts with happiness in their new home. They’ll associate the house with joyful family memories and feel at peace in a new place.

Here’s the thing. Moving can be stressful. Parenting can be stressful. Sometimes all you can do let the chaos continue for a brief moment while you close your eyes and walk into another room.

In those moments, though, breathe deep. Give yourself the time needed to do this big job. It can be overwhelming when you’re trying to balance the responsibility of moving and parenting at the same time. Don’t rush or put too much pressure on getting everything done perfectly and on schedule.

Let this be a happy time of change for your family by using the steps above as a guide. And call Bellhops if you ever need some extra hands.