Alright – let’s talk big transitions. There are SO many directions one could go with this, but I’m going to stick with one aspect. The transition of moving. And today I’m not talking just simple, around the corner, or next town over moving. Though those present their own set of challenges, today I’m talking about BIG moves. Like, halfway (or ALL the way) across the country moves.
I wouldn’t say I am an expert on navigating these types of moves….I may be getting there though! And as we’ve made this type of transition a few times I want to share with you some strategies I have found extremely helpful for our cross country moves.
Let me preface this by saying: There will ALWAYS be hard days. These strategies don’t make everything completely smooth sailing, no kids complaining, no stress, all butterflies and rainbows. Nope. Ha could you imagine? If I had THAT kind of advice I’d be writing books, and making millions hahaha! Ok, maybe not. However, the idea is nice right!?? 😉
No, these strategies and tips are going to help you in different ways. You see, we’re in the middle of our second cross country move/transition in under 4 years. And while we’re still transitioning there are some things I have learned that have made things so much easier. This is going to be a 2-part topic. Part 1, we’ll focus on navigating the packing, and traveling a large family. Part 2, I’ll share strategies that help the kids (and parents!) with the transition to new schools, new neighborhoods, making new friends, finding a good rhythm and getting life back to some form of normal. So…part 1, let’s get started!
Packing and Traveling –
For ALL families, but especially ones with large families, where things tend to accumulate sometimes out of control, packing can be the best part! It’s a time to DE-JUNK! Reduce, recycle, refresh! How can we do this as a family, and how can we make it fun? Here’s what worked for us, and I believe can work for you!
- Start with 3 tubs – you may need more throughout the process but start here.
- Label tubs. KEEP, DONATE, and TRASH. (You will be amazed at how much can go in the “Trash” tub!)
- Give your kids a number of items they can choose to keep. For us, it was 3. 6 kids, 3 items each is still 18! The items don’t need to include books, coloring supplies, or things that are generally used by all the kids. This is simply their favorite toys.
- Books will be packed in boxes, with the exception of 2-3 the kids want to keep out while traveling. I’m a huge fan of reading, and books so we kept nearly ALL our books. And that was a ton. But, to me they’re well worth the extra packing and organizing.
- All other items need to go in the donate or trash tubs. This eliminated SO many toys and things that were missing pieces, or broken, no longer played with etc. It cuts back on the clutter substantially!
- When packing everything else, ask your self – “is this something I use often, will I miss it if I don’t have it?” If you answer yes to both, keep and pack.
- Is it something you’ll miss but don’t use often? Make sure the items you don’t want to have to replace when you move are items you pack. I found that a lot of items went to donation, because I realized we would be fine without. Simplify. We didn’t pack a microwave, and it was something we used often but guess what?? I don’t miss it!! In fact, I don’t think it’s on our list of items we need to replace.
- Make sure you leave important seasonal items out or easily accessible. This one we learned from experience :/ We packed up everything but didn’t bring with us right away. Well, here we are coming in to winter season and all of our kids winter gear is in storage packed in boxes. Ooooops! Now we get to spend money to go back and get things out of storage OR replace allll the winter gear. Major bummer. Don’t make this same mistake!
What pointers do you have for packing up and trying to scale back and simplify when making a major move or family transition?
We have a few standard things we do for traveling and making long road trips. When our kids were quite a bit younger, we didn’t have these strategies. However, I’m certain they would have been just as helpful and beneficial then as they are now! And guess what!?! They don’t include handing your kids electronics to keep themselves entertained the entire time. Here’s what you can do:
- Get each kid their own backpack for traveling. Items to put in their backpacks included: one set of clothing and pajamas, their favorite 2-3 books to read, crayons, pen and/or pencils, their own lined notebook, a snack bag (I’ll share more info on that in the next post!) and a couple of small toys they can play with while traveling.
- Make a trip to the dollar store or something equivalent. Pick out a couple of items per kid. Items that you know your kids are gonna enjoy using or playing with while in the car. Wrap them up (like presents) and keep them separate from their backpacks. As you travel, give the kids a new “gift” every couple of hours. It keeps them excited for the anticipation of the next gift, and is something that will keep them entertained in the mean time as well!
- Check out the cheap DVD section at your local store. Grab a few the kids love, or a few you think they’ll love but haven’t seen yet. This will buy you a few hours of peace and quiet when you’re needing a break from all the noise. 🙂
- Find and print of traveling games. You can even laminate them and buy some inexpensive dry-erase markers so they can be used over and over again! This was one of my favorites, because it got the kids to play together, kept the fighting to a minimum and they were all reusable! You can find some of my favorites here and here!
Are there any things your family loves for traveling? Any tried and true tips for making the trip enjoyable, and less stressful I’d love to hear your ideas!!
UP NEXT – Part 2 of navigating big transitions with a large family!
PS I almost forgot! If you want the travel part to go smoothly, and your kids to enjoy the trip and/or not get overwhelmed with the amount of time traveling – break it up. And not just break it up, but plan activities at your stopping points! Our most recent move, was a 24 hour drive if going straight through. Ha! Not happening. So, we broke it up into several days, with planned stops along the way at different monuments, museums, or even just fun parks! We traveled an average of 6 hours a day. And it was perfect! It gave the kids something to look forward to each day, and it made the time in the vehicle not seem so long, drawn out and exhausting. Trust me on this – you’ll want to break it into days if you can!