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A Survival Guide to Moving with Kids

A Survival Guide to Moving with Kids

 I have moved with a toddler while pregnant, wish I would have read this first…

by Chanelle Henderson | staff writer for The Snap Mom

My husband and I have been married for 5 years. In the past 5 years, we have moved 4 times:

Move 1: NC to FL (3 weeks after we got married!)

Move 2: Orlando to Sarasota

Move 3: Sarasota to Orlando again (with a 2 year old and pregnant with #2!)

Move 4: Orlando to VA (with a 3 year old and a 6 week old baby!)

We have moved in every way imaginable! We’ve packed up everything in both our cars. We’ve done multiple trips back and forth with a U-Haul. We’ve hired movers. We’ve borrowed friend’s trucks and did the job in a day in exchange for free beer.

Pre-kids, we considered ourselves ‘seasoned veterans’ of the nomad life. We once lived out of a tent for 3 months just because we could!

Packing up and moving? Piece of cake. Packing up and moving with kids? Could be a scene out of Home Alone 2.


With our war wounds healed, I figured it was time to share a few tips to make the process a little less painless! Consider them my gift to you instead of free beer! 😉


The biggest way to lessen the burden of moving is to start as SOON AS YOU FIND OUT! Starting early makes it possible to do all of the other recommendations below. It gives you the time to organize yourself for purging, scavenging for boxes, organizing, and rallying help. When we moved from Sarasota to Orlando, I started packing boxes 8 weeks before our moving day! That gave me plenty of time to sort through things to give away or sell, and made it easy to fit ‘packing’ into my schedule. (NOTE: when I say ‘start packing’, I mean I packed a few boxes per day max. No big deal)


This is SO MUCH EASIER!! Packing in square, uniformed shapes makes it much easier and more efficient.

  • You can make a ‘wall o’ boxes’ to keep things out of the way in your house.
  • You can label everything
  • Things don’t break as often
  • More fits on the truck in less space
  • It’s easier to carry it out

This doesn’t mean you have to PAY for boxes. You can find boxes all over the place!

Some of my favorite sources for free boxes:

  • Big Box Stores (call and ask what day the truck drops off shipments. Ask to talk to someone in the back. They usually will put the boxes aside and then you can come and pick them up!) I’ve had the best luck with: Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Sears, Kirklands/HomeGoods, PartyCity, DollarTree, Liquor Stores, Grocery Stores (be careful: many of the produce boxes have bugs! Choose wisely!)
  •  Craigslist (people post ‘free curb alert’ for boxes all the time! Sometimes, you can get really good boxes for free or nominal cost too, and they’re real moving boxes at a fraction of the cost)
  • Driving around the Neighborhood (I’ve definitely creeped new neighbors unloading their truck, and asked if I could have their boxes. It’s a good icebreaker! And I’ve definitely been creeped back, which makes it easy to get rid of the boxes once we move!)


The more you get rid of before, the less you have to actually move. We have always used moving as an excuse to minimize our stuff. The less stuff you have, the less you have to unpack too! And, let’s be honest: you’ll probably want to redecorate a bit in the new place anyway!


If you have this luxury, set up some sort of playdate for your kids on the actual day of moving. It is hot, boring work, and it’ll be SO much more efficient to have them out of the house. Plus, packing up and moving can be kind of traumatic for young kids! Do everyone a favor: let them have fun while you do the dirty work.


As mentioned above, moving can be a significant stressed in a kiddo’s life. How can you minimize the impact? Shorten the duration! Waiting until last to pack up the kids’ room meant more days in their own bed, more days playing with their toys as distraction, and more days with a sense of normalcy.
Then, when we moved into the new place, their room is first! We tried to set it up as close to the old room as possible.


Big things that help minimize impact on kids:

  • Talk about all the fun things in the new area! Down the road or across the country, you can always find the exciting new adventures. New playgrounds, new yard, etc.
  • Talk about everything that will stay the same. Take time to name each item that will come with you to the new house despite all the change.

Here’s how our conversations with our 3 year old went on our most recent move from Florida to Virginia:

“Aren’t you so excited about the move to Virginia? We’re going to have so much fun! There’s a playground with a big star on it! And a creek down the road! And there will be SNOW!! But guess what…all of your toys will be there too! Raccoon will be there, your books will be there, your bed. Mommy and Daddy’s bed will be there. Your stool will be there. Your toothbrush and toothpaste will be there. We will still have dinner together there, and go for walks together….” (you get the idea)

So there you have it! A few of the highlights we figured out to help us make moving an ADVENTURE instead of a crisis.

Happy Trails!

About the author


Chanelle spends her hours as a mom, a writer, a wife, and a mental health counselor–not always in that order! When she and her husband aren’t chasing after their renegade children, they ponder the finer philosophies of Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss (while wiping finger paint off the pages).