year my husband and I went through a huge undertaking in our marriage: we moved! It was a long-anticipated and exciting time. But it was not without challenges! With 3 kids, our jobs, and an underwater mortgage, at times it felt insurmountable.
We were living in our starter home: a tiny, 75-year-old bungalow about 5 minutes from where I grew up. We brought our first baby home, then the recession hit, which meant a loss of equity and lots of sweat and tears! A couple years later we brought home our second baby and started experiencing true growing pains that come with having 4 people and a ton of baby gear in a 2-bedroom home. Eventually we brought home our third baby, and something had to change! We spent about a year getting the house ready to sell and saved as much as we could. We found an amazing realtor and suddenly, we were doing it. After 10 years in our little house, we were finally moving!
We organized, repaired, and purged. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Our realtor recommended that we put about half of our stuff in storage to make our house look minimalist, yet open and inviting. Problem is: we had boxes and boxes of kids’ clothes and baby gear that would come in handy for any future children we might have. And the toys, good God, the TOYS. I’m certain that Melissa and Doug were procreating after we turned out the lights in the toy room. We just didn’t realize how much stuff we had amassed over 10+ years until it was staring at us in the face, waiting to be boxed up. It was not for the faint of heart.
If you’re planning to move in the near future, take these tips to heart!
- Communicate with your kids. Let them know what to expect, from the very first steps of the process until the end result. In our case, we were moving across town, into a new school district, and had to find a new childcare provider. It was a big adjustment for us all, but it helped that we prepped the kids beforehand.
- Get your house in order. Before your house is on the market, make a list of repairs, cleaning projects, or cosmetic updates that need to be made. Big or small, they’ll make a big difference to prospective buyers! On the weekends we’d give our kids a pile of snacks and put on their favorite DVDs so we could knock out as much as possible. During the week we scheduled inspectors and handymen on the days I worked from home.
- Do NOT let the kids see you purge their stuff. Goodwill is your BFF. It feels so good, cathartic even, to purge the things you no longer need. But you must drop the kids off at Grandma’s or go through their stuff in the darkness of the night. No matter what, don’t let them see you toss their old art projects, macaroni necklaces, or crusty stuffed animal with its arm halfway ripped-off. These all suddenly become beloved treasures to a child. If they see Stuffy the Stuffed Animal peering at them from the trash bag, you’ll just have to come up with some lie about how it got there. Just do it in secret and take it to your grave.
- Enlist your kids’ help. Give them small jobs to make them feel part of the process. Let them pack up out-of-season clothes, extra linens, or really anything that isn’t fragile or super valuable. Older kids can pack up their own stuff, and help keep the younger kids out of your hair. All kids can help keep the house clean while it’s on the market! Involve them in the fun stuff too: picking paint colors for their new bedroom, choosing new furniture, or helping decorate the playroom.
- Make a few final memories. We stayed in our old house just long enough to celebrate our baby’s 1st Something about that felt reassuring and special to us. Visit your favorite neighborhood spots one last time. Camp out in the living room on your last night in the old house. You could also make a memory book including pictures of the house, photos of your children playing with the neighbor kids, and even the property flyer! And don’t forget to set up play-dates with their old friends after the move!
- Familiarize them with the new neighborhood. Hype up all the cool features of their new surroundings: new parks to explore, new friends to make, and other neighborhood attractions. Drive by their new school and take them to the new library. Before long, it’ll feel like home!
- Provide reassurance and consistency. Moving out of the home they’ve always known can be really hard on a child! It can seem like everything is changing around them, and they have no control over it. On our first night in the new house, we woke up to my daughter crying—only we couldn’t figure out where she was. I ran down the stairs and found her screaming for me and frantically trying to open the front door. She was sleepwalking! That memory still makes me shudder! To help them ease into the transition, keep up your family routines as much as possible and be there for them!
We have been in our new house for just over a year, and it has flown by. We still drive by our old house sometimes, and talk about our favorite memories there. It will always hold a special place in our hearts. But our family has moved onto new adventures in our “forever” home, and I wouldn’t change a thing!