Moving Halfway Across the Country with Young Kids

Friday, May 5, 2017

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes!

This past week we moved from Berkeley, CA to St. Louis Park, MN. It's been a saga. I would not claim moving with kids is easy, but there are some things we did with this move that made the process easier.


Find a way to make baths happen everyday

During the moving process there is so much upheaval. The packing and moving makes living spaces very dusty, and being outside so much meant by the end of the day there was a decent amount of dirt, dust, sand, sunscreen, and who-knows-what on these kids. 
My kids are very used to bath time starting the train to sleepy time. If I can just get them in a tub at the end of the day, nighttime goes so much better for everyone!


Bring the white noise machine

We're used to sleeping with white noise machines in each bedroom, and I was very grateful for that during the move. Having that consist sound for sleep was great for thin walled hotel rooms and even for getting used to the sounds of our new home.



Much of the time it only made sense for one of us to be at the apartment/house and the other to be the kid wrangler. The best mode of kid wrangler is out of the house, and if you need to be out of the house might as well do fun stuff!
I became kid wrangler so the kids and I had adventures! Everywhere! We hiked the trail next to the hotel, made a whole ceremony out of getting free snacks from the hotel lounge, tried out our new library, 


Plan one fun meal each day

We were traveling, in different hotels, and then essentially camping in our new house for over a week (and counting).  We had bagels with cream cheese and bananas for breakfast, and sandwiches for lunch, most days. We requested a fridge and microwave in hotels which greatly broadened our meal options for non-restaurant meals.We liked to pick either lunch or dinner to be the fun dinner out. It was a great way to stay on budget. Honestly, my littles could only handle one restaurant meal each day from a good behavior stand point alone.


Don't Over Pack

I know this is so hard when traveling with little people, especially when you cannot be exactly sure when that moving van will show up at your new place, but traveling with only as much as you need saves so much headache. Especially because we were flying, I wanted to keep our number of bags, and the weight of those bags, on the lower side.

My strategy has been little kids all share one brown duffel bag which they pack under mom supervision. We generally bring enough clothes for five days at a time. We always always always pack swimsuits, fleece jackets, church clothes just to be prepared.
Each kid gets a kitchen size trash bag labeled with their name put into the duffel. Socks, underwear, swim suits all go in a gallon sized ziplock with their name as well.
All kid toiletries go in Mom or Dad's bag since that helps streamline the set up process when we arrive out destination. 


Preparing the Kids for Moving

We prepared the kids for moving for months. They saw pictures of the new house, we researched local parks, parishes, and activity options so we could talk in more detail about what would be around in their new neighborhood. We read probably every picture book about moving our local library had in their catalog. Our favorites were The Berenstain Bears Moving Day and Moving by Fred Rodgers (aka. Mister Rodgers!).

We were also very honest about the process of moving. We each encouraged the kids to ask questions and made sure not to sugarcoat things. We probably will not be back in our old town for a long time so these goodbyes will very likely be the last in person visit for most of their little friends. Talking about how they met the friends they have now is useful for helping kids picture how they might make new friends in their new neighborhood. Because they have had success at this friend thing before!


Prepare Yourself

Little kids will generally mirror the attitude and perspective of the adults. If YOU are not happy about moving, are scared or unsure if this is a good idea, the kids will probably follow your lead. The best prep for getting through the moving process is to get yourself prepared! Figure out what you need to feel secure in the decision to move and what you will need set up in your new home first off.

For me, picking a parish is huge. I use my parish as home base for finding community and if I can find a solid parish I have a lot more confidence that connections will happen.

Have you ever moved with little kids? What are your moving tips?


  1. These are great tips! I've never moved with little kids of my own, but when I was 8 1/2, my parents moved myself and my 3 siblings (two of them younger than I) across the country, and it was an adventure! Something that made it a lot more fun was that my parents pulled out special new books for us to look at in the car :)

    1. We did end up getting two new books the day before the flight. I do favor paperbacks for traveling since they're lighter and easier for little hands to hold on their own.

  2. We moved six times in 7 years with the army when our oldest 3 were little, little. Totally agree that a sound machine is key!

    1. That's a lot of moving!

      We know we'll be needing to move out of this house into our (hopefully!) forever home within the year. Not looking forward to doing this all again in less than a year, but it won't be nearly as big of a haul.

  3. Thanks for these. We're moving in a couple of weeks from East coast to West coast and although it's nothing new for me, it's the first big one for our 8 yr old ..that he'll remember. Some of these tips I hadn't thought of such as having them look at pics of new places and reading books about moving

    1. That's a big move! My mom suggested doing a Goodbye Book. Visiting the people and places the child will miss or that have sentimental significance and taking a picture of the goodbye. If you print out the pictures and put them in a little photo album (Dollar Tree has good options) than the child has a little book of all their favorite memories to look back on. We didn't end up really doing that this time, but we did make sure to get a few last pictures with their little friends.

  4. These are great suggestions! We always treat it like an adventure (my parents raised me that way), so that is definitely right on the money... I firmly believe kids feed off us.

    Love these quick takes. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  5. You made it sound like fun! I've moved many times with little kids but going across town is WAY different from going across the country. These are great tips.


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