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Moving With Kids

Things Every Parent Should Know

moving with kids

Moving can seem like a daunting task — especially when you have kids– because there are so many additional things to consider like, “How do I pack with a busy toddler running around?” or “What things should I pack first?”

You may have questions beyond the move itself like, “Will we be moving to a good neighborhood?” “What’s the best childcare/daycare/after school care?” “Where are the best schools?” “Where are the bus stops?”

We all know that adapting to change can be stressful and when you add uncertainty and all the unknowns related to a move, it’s no wonder that moving ranks high as one of life’s most stressful events.

So it stands to reason that the right information can dramatically reduce your uncertainty and stress about your move.

In this article, we’ll tackle some of the questions you may have, and help you develop an organized plan to make your move fast, easy and stress-free.

Where You’re Going

housing community

The Neighborhood

AreaVibes provides free information to help you find the best places to live based on seven “livability” factors: nearby amenities, cost of living, crime rates, education, employment, housing, and weather.  Their process is simple. Enter an area (address, city, neighborhood or zip code), customize the list by the livability factors most important to you (i.e. education, crime rates, housing), and explore the best places based on the criteria you selected.

If you’re interested in more detailed information, NeighborhoodScout provides reports that include real estate information, area demographics, crime rates, schools, and trends and forecasts. You can get a brief overview for a location for free, but there is a fee to unlock the complete report.  They offer a pay-as-you-go plan for $29.99 or monthly rates starting at $49.99 for up to 10 reports a month.

The Schools

GreatSchools rates school quality, using a letter grade (A+ to F) which is based on eight factors: test scores, student progress, academic progress, college readiness, advanced courses, equity (how well a school serves disadvantaged and minority students), low-income, and discipline and attendance for schools from preschool through high school. You can also view parent ratings and reviews.

SchoolDigger is an easy way to rank schools for grades K-12.  They provide test scores, rankings, school and district boundaries, student/teacher ratios, ethnic makeup, and scores of other useful metrics and information for over 120,000 schools in the United States.

SchoolGrades uses an international standard of excellence to grade how well America’s schools prepare students in core subjects. Using this single standard approach, they compare state testing data to a rigorous national standard so that parents can more accurately compare schools’ performance, no matter where they live.

School Bus Stops

Once you have selected a school, school bus stop information is available on the school district website.  Often, the individual school’s website will have a link to that information and more.

How You’ll Get There

car or airplane

If you’re moving long distance, you need to consider whether you will drive or fly. There are pros and cons to either choice.

Flying:  Flying will enable you to spend less time getting to your destination and more time enjoying time with your family.  Here are a few things to know:

  • Tuesday Around Midnight: The cheapest time to book a flight.  You could save up to 6% according to a study by Southern Living.

  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays:  The cheapest days to fly according to USA Today.

  • Temporary Housing:  You’ll need a place to stay until you can move in to your new residence and all your belongings arrive.If you’ll only need temporary housing for a week or two a normal hotel or motel may suffice. However, if you will need temporary accommodations for a longer period of time, consider extended stay accommodations with full kitchens or kitchenettes like Extended Stay America or Wyndham’s Hawthorn Hotels.Another economical option, especially for larger families, is to rent a recreational vehicle (RV). Class A RVs that have a kitchen, bathroom with shower, and sleeping accommodations for at least 4 people start as low as $199 a night through RVShare. And you can also find campgrounds that rent campers on their site as well.

  • Shipping Your Vehicles:  Vehicles must be transported by an authorized auto shipping provider and require special preparation to be transported.  You can find out more information and request quotes from ShipMyVehicle.


Driving:  Driving can be a fun and cost-effective way to get to your new destination if you keep the following tips in mind:

  • Entertainment:  Have plenty of age-appropriate toys and games along.

  • Plan Frequent Breaks:  Nothing is harder on kids and parents than being cooped up in the car for a long time. You’ll find the trip is a lot more pleasant for everyone if you plan to take frequent breaks, get out of the car for a while, and stretch your legs. Consider stopping at a park or fast food restaurant with a play area each time you stop for gas. A few minutes out of the car can do wonders to reduce anxiety and frustration.

    If you’re traveling with older kids, take the scenic route and plan to stop at places that look interesting along the way. Consider spending a little time at a lot of places on the way as a fact-finding mission for potential vacation spots you can spend more time at on another trip!

  • Hotels:  If you choose to stay at hotels along the way, the Huffington Post offers these 10 Booking Hacks to Score the Cheapest Hotel. Other economical alternatives are renting campers or RVs at campgrounds. You can find campgrounds that rent campers on the RVShare website.

  • Food:  Even though you plan a budget and try to be economical, food may end up costing you more than you anticipate, and many of the moms we surveyed agreed. To help keep food costs down:
    • Take advantage of the complimentary breakfast at your hotel
    • Pack plenty of healthy snacks that keep well such as fruit, crackers, peanut butter, nuts, protein bars.
    • Visit the grocery store’s deli section. Lots of stores have pre-made salads, sandwiches, roasted or fried chicken pieces and more that are more cost-effective than eating at a restaurant or fast food place.

Planning For Your Move

to do list

Give Yourself Enough Time

We asked over 8,600 moms what tips they would offer to other moms about moving with kids and the NUMBER ONE response was:  Plan extra time – as much as double the amount of time it would take you to move alone.

When you have little ones, you will have to keep them occupied, be able to keep an eye on them, and pack.

Even with older kids helping, you can expect interruptions to answer questions, resolve disputes, provide guidance about what to do next, and help with odd-shaped items or partially-filled boxes.

We recommend you begin packing at least 8 weeks prior to your move if you plan to pack things yourself. Here’s a Moving Checklist we designed to help you know what to do as you prepare for moving day.

And, if you pack things yourself, you should be aware that your movers will not be able to insure items you pack yourself.  The insurance companies consider these items “packed by owner” and specifically exclude them from coverage.  For more information about moving insurance, we suggest visiting the website.

Time-Saving Tip #1:  Most moving companies offer packing services where professionals will come to your house and pack all your belongings for you in a day or two! Talk about an easy button!

And the benefit of having the moving company pack your belongings is that they will be insured against loss or damage during your move.  While there is an additional charge for this service, the time and effort it saves you (as well as the peace of mind knowing that your belongings are insured) may well be worth it for you.

Time-Saving Tip #2:  If possible, arrange for someone to watch the kids while you pack and during your move.

If family members aren’t available to help, consider trading with a friend or other mom you know. She can watch your kids for a few hours so you can pack, and you can return the favor by watching her kids so she can run some errands or enjoy “date night” with her husband.

Other options to consider: a childcare center, a professional nanny service, or the local Boys and Girls club.

Keep Your Routine

A routine is especially important for babies and younger children, but everyone – even adults – benefit from having a routine. A routine makes you less prone to costly mistakes or accidents and just makes life easier because you know what to expect next.

Do your packing during nap time, while the kids are in school, or after they have gone to bed early. But don’t let packing prevent you from getting the sleep you need to be at your best. Instead, plan to pack over a longer period of time. As mentioned above, we recommend starting at least 8 weeks prior to your move. If you missed it above, here’s a Moving Checklist that will help you know what to do as you prepare for moving day.

Arrange For Childcare

Particularly if you have small children, having a spouse, older sibling, family member, friend or other trusted adult watch your kids so you can focus on packing will save your sanity and help you get done much faster.

Or, consider arranging a “play date” for your kids so they can spend the day with friends while you get work done and you can reciprocate on a different day or by paying for something that contributes to the fun (like Chuck E Cheese or pizza delivery).

Get The Kids to Help

Even your toddlers can help decide which toys to keep and which ones can be donated, or help you collect items to put in boxes. Yes, this will take longer than doing it yourself, but it provides the opportunity to teach your children important life lessons like philanthropy, generosity, and planning.

Older children can be responsible for packing their own belongings and helping younger children.

Packing Order Is Important

Always start by packing the things you don’t use very often FIRST. Things like books, CDs, DVDs, extra linens, out of season clothes, decorations, knick-knacks, and artwork, and other items you rarely use like the stuff that’s on the top shelves, in the back of closets, or in rooms you rarely use.

Pack kids’ stuff last because our survey moms found they often needed something unexpectedly and, if this happens to you, you don’t want to have to open boxes to get what you need.


On our Moving Resources page, we offer lots of downloadable resources to help you plan, organize, and pack for your move.

Find out how to plan and prepare for your move with our Planning Your Move guide.

Be sure you have the right tools and supplies with our Essential Packing & Moving Supplies guide.

Have a realistic moving timeline and a step-by-step plan to get you there with our Moving Checklist.

Find out what items the movers cannot move for you with our Do Not Pack List.

Find out what items should stay in your possession during your move with our Items to Keep With You guide.

One of the worst things about packing is not knowing where your stuff is or where it belongs when it arrives at your new home.

Problem solved! Use the Moving Inventory to keep track of all your belongings that are being moved, the Moving Box Inventory to know exactly what’s in each box, and printable Moving Box Labels to know exactly where boxes and other belongings should be delivered.

* HINT: It’s best to place labels on the backs or bottom surfaces of furniture to prevent adhesive marks or damage.

And you can skip the trip to the post office by submitting your change of address online using the USPS Online Change of Address.

You might also be interested in:

How Long Will My Move Take

12 Tips to Make Your Move Faster, Smarter, Cheaper



The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day

My Very Exciting Sorta Scary Big Move

Moving With Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family’s Transition to a New Home