How to Make Relocation Stress-Free for Parents

Jenna returns with more stress-free moving tips! As always, time saved is the only benefit I receive from guest authors.

We recently did a post about tips to make relocation stress-free for kids. What about for parents? If you’re planning an upcoming move, here’s what you need to do to keep sane and avoid having your stress rub off on the entire family.

1. Sort before you pack
Moving your belongings is a two-stage process. First, you have to decide what is actually moving with you. Don’t just pack everything; this is a great time to get rid of old clothes, outgrown toys and broken appliances. It’s also a fantastic time to have a yard sale, list furniture on Craigslist, and find additional ways of earning a little extra money from your old stuff.

The time to decide what to keep and what to leave behind shouldn’t be when you are standing above a moving box. Instead, starting about two months before your move, go through your entire house and sort out the items you do not want to take with you. Then, have a mega yard sale, donate your items to Goodwill, or start selling them online.

This is a great way to reduce the stress of the actual moving process, because it makes packing much more simple: if it’s in the house, it goes in the moving van. No fuss, no muss.

2. Accept what other family members want to pack
Some of your dear family members are going to grow inexplicably attached to strange items. Your elementary school-aged daughter may suddenly want to keep her baby toys, or your husband may suddenly show an interest in the exercise bike he only used once.

Unless there’s an overwhelming reason to leave these items behind (like the moving van doesn’t have enough space), take them with you. You don’t want to be the mean mommy that made your family give up their stuff. Sometimes it takes people a little longer to outgrow things, and chances are that within a year or two your kids will be totally over their baby toys and your husband will agree that the exercise bike was a bad idea – or, maybe, he’ll actually start using it!

3. Hire the professionals
If at all possible, hire professionals to do your moving for you. Even if you have a house full of able-bodied teenagers, a professional moving team will do the job faster and will ease up stress on the entire family.

You definitely want a professional moving van rather than a trailer that you drag behind your car. I remember one move when I was a child, where we were driving through the Arizona desert with the car heater turned on full-blast, because the car was overheating due to the weight of our overstuffed moving trailer. 

Those kind of moving horror stories do make family memories, but not the ones you want. Instead, work with a professional moving company and save your sweat for that exercise bike.

4. Consider portable storage units
Sometimes, we find ourselves downsizing as we move. This type of move can be particularly stressful on families, especially when it involves sorting through treasured possessions that no longer fit in a new home.

However, there is a solution: portable moving containers. Pack these containers at your current location, and then they travel on to a storage center in your new city. Visit that storage center any time you need items from the storage unit, or keep your belongings safe until you’re ready to move them into a permanent home.

5. Plan for the first day, the first week, and the first month
Everyone recommends that you “plan for the first day” when you move. That means having enough air mattresses or sleeping bags for everyone to sleep, as well as unpacking key supplies like toilet paper first. (I remember one of my first moves, where we arrived after a 14-hour drive to discover there wasn’t a roll of toilet paper anywhere in the house.)

However, you also need to plan for the first week and the first month. When are you going to contact the Post Office about your mail? When do you need to enroll the kids in school? When do you need to start looking for pediatricians and dentists? These types of tasks start out as “important but not urgent,” and then turn into crises if you don’t plan ahead. 

As long as you plan ahead, outsource as much as possible, and let your family be their wonderful selves during the move, you have the best chance of having a fun, stress-free move for everyone involved. What other tips do you offer parents planning a move? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for the tips, Jenna! Teacher and I moved every year for the first 11 years of our marriage. Most of the time we moved ourselves, with the help of family and friends, but once we hired professionals. I have to say, that was the best move ever because we didn’t start the trip already exhausted from packing a moving van. If we had to move again I’d definitely hire professionals again!

Amy Sue

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