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How to Stay Sane When Packing and Moving with Kids

Just moved into a new home. Concept photo.

When my husband and I purchased our first home, it was just us. Two young kids, moving some college furniture from an apartment. Easy. Fast forward to putting a house on the market with two young kids of our own and shopping for a house in a quick-turning market. It’s a totally different ballgame! Now that it’s behind us and we’ve moved into our new digs, I’ve got some tips for survival if you’re going through the same scenario. You will survive!

Tips for Packing, Moving and Showing Your House — with Kids

1. Box it up.  Put away things that just are not necessary. Really stage your house to show its size in its entirety. Declutter. That goes for toys, too. Put away things that are not used as much. Pack away the toys they always throw to the side to get to the favorites so that you don’t get overwhelmed with excess toy cleanup. We bought several plastic bins so I could see what was inside; it also helped during the unpacking phase on the on the other end. We stacked boxes nicely in our basement and the garage.

2. Box it all up actually. We packed our house in stages. By we, I mean the royal I, of course. With kids, small steps are easier than one big overwhelming push. I went room by room and packed what I didn’t need. I had us very well prepared for the day of move. Even with advance preparation, I will admit, it was still a you-know-what show the day of the move.

3. Pick up the night before a showing. Each night after the kids were in bed, Jake and I went around preparing the home for the next day’s showings. We put all the kids’ toys away but kept a basket of the ones they use all the time out and handy. It gave the kids something to play with in the morning like they’re accustomed to. The advantage for me is that it was only one basket. Easy to quickly pick up before heading out the door.

4. Use disposable dishes. It was SO much easier to toss and go before a showing instead of being concerned with washing and starting the dishwasher. We took out the trash so many times to keep the kitchen from having any odors and to empty all the bathroom trash cans. We didn’t want any funky smells when potential homeowners opened the dishwasher to see inside, so we kept it empty.

5. Make the beds. I have no trick here. This part stinks. I hated doing this every day before leaving the house with a 3-year-old and a baby on the hip. Remember the basket I talked about from number 2? Use that to get this done!

6. Ask for help. On days I knew I couldn’t get to it before being out of the house for school drop-off, I’d ask for help. I’d have someone watch Sadie while I ran home and quickly prepared the house.

7. Donate. Get rid of things you don’t need! Why schlep it for it to sit in the next house? Getting things OUT of your house opens up space and attracts the buyers even more. Remember, they’re trying to envision their things there; they don’t want to see your donation piles, so do a drop off!

8. It’s okay to cry, and it’s also okay to say no. Here’s the thing. This is a very overwhelming process. We can only prepare so much. With kids, it becomes stressful. We are put out of our homes, sometimes at last-minute notice. Remember, not every showing has to happen. Yes, you want to sell your house, but getting a notice at 6:30 for a 7 p.m. showing is not the most convenient for the littles. We had to say no on occasion, and the buyers understood. When it’s bedtime, the house is closed. Remember, you still live there; you’re in control. If all else fails, cry in the shower!

9. Cut yourself slack. The bottom line is, the house may not be perfect. You may forget to open a blind or turn on one lamp. The bed may have a crease in it and your 3-year-old may have left some toothpaste in the sink. You can’t sweat it. Towards the end, I realized, there’s a crib in one room and toddler rails on a bed in the other. Surely the Lookie Lous will have some compassion for me. Or they’ll just feel sorry for me. Either one is acceptable — just make us an offer!

No one enjoys moving until it’s over. Having a disheveled house and settling into a new home isn’t easy, particularly with kids. But you’ll survive. You’ll even survive discovering that the one item you need isn’t in the labeled box and is instead in the miscellaneous box. WORST BOX EVER!

Have you moved with kids? What tips would you add?Jennifer

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