Large Family Moving – The Logistics

We’ve moved a few times.  Something like 9 times in 14 years.  However, every move is different.  This one was no exception.

Last time we moved, I had 5 children, the youngest being 1 month old.  We moved ourselves (with a TON of help from our friends).  But, this move was a professional move, meant to cause me less stress. *cough*

Let me just say, when you have a large family, moving will be stressful. There’s just no way around it.  That’s why I wanted to do this series…a series that is still in the making as we slowly settle in to life in a new city.

One major aspect of moving as a larger-than-average family is the logistics of it all.  For us, it got even more complicated because we had to send our 15 passenger van in to be worked on in the midst of all of this.  That means it took 3 vehicles to get all of the children to our new home!

Thankfully, I was given some great advice from some other moms of many that I want to pass along to all of you, just in case there is a move looming on your horizon.

*If at all possible, send any child who is not able to be a BIG help to a grandparent’s or friend’s house. I am not usually an advocate of sending your children away, but this is one piece of advice I am so glad I followed!  We kept only our oldest (age 12) and our youngest (age 4 months) with us.  The chaos of boxes and last minute things to do would have made it VERY difficult to keep track of so many littles.  We split the children up between two sets of grandparents so no one had to take on the full amount of care.  And I think everyone involved truly enjoyed themselves!

*Pack 3-4 days worth of clothes for everyone. We are STILL living off these packings!  Keep them in separate bags/backpacks, so you can easily hand them off to a caregiver or easily find an outfit or put away an outfit.  Diapers also go in these bags and anything else the child might need.

*Keep out a stash of paper plates, utensils, cups, napkins (and diapers!). You will need them.  In fact, with a large family, you’ll need a lot of them!  We did not find all of our silverware, plates, and cooking utensils until the 3rd day we were in our new home! (and yes, we DID find the coffee pot on that same day!)  And a few weeks of disposable diapers will be okay. ;)

*Create a staging area. We chose our main bathroom in the old house.  We emptied that room of anything that needed to be packed, and filled it with the things we would be taking with us so the movers would not pack it up.  However, a staging area is a good idea even if you are packing and moving yourselves…just maybe not in the bathroom!  Choose a corner of your bedroom, a table top, a place in the garage and designate that your staging area for all the things that will need to be kept off the moving truck.

*Use the Buddy System at all times. We have a rule that everyone goes in twos (including me!).  My children are just now getting to the age where I can have set buddies, but most of the time, depending on who needs caring for, the buddy will change.  Using the buddy system during a move can be a lifesaver.  While the movers were here, having buddies kept the children safe from all the movement in the house.  On the road, it made it where a big kid could take a little kid to the bathroom.  At the new house, it helped to keep little hands occupied while mama unpacked.

*If you have a laptop, keep it out. We used ours to check weather, look at maps, entertain the children, and get phone numbers for services we needed turned on or off.  I say a laptop as opposed to a desktop for the simple reason of being able to easily pack it up when the time comes.  However, if you have a way to transport your desktop, feel free to keep it around as well.  There were just so many last minute things I needed to look up and moments when I needed to coral the kids in one tiny space, having the laptop made that much easier.

*Budget for eating out and convenience foods. Our move took a full 5 days.  I purchased granola bars for breakfast.  We ate out a lot and used our microwave more than it has been used in years!  One thing I should have done better was plan for once we were actually in the house.  Thankfully, my mother in law brought some meals with her, otherwise we would have eaten cheese chips for breakfast, lunch, and supper for who knows how long!

*Have a plan, but be ready to change it. I had a few crisis moments when I wasn’t sure what to do next.  Thankfully, my mom and step-mother-in-law talked me off the ceiling.  We put a plan in place with the understanding that it would more than likely be changed…more than once…and it was.  However, just having a plan gave me something shoot for.  And knowing it could change at any moment kept me from feeling too much stress when it inevitably did change.

I have to admit this move was harder than any other move we’ve done.  We had a lot of extenuating circumstances that added stress, but all in all, we’ve survived!

Now, I want to hear from all of you who have moved with large families!  What have you found helpful?  What would you do differently next time?  What tips saved the day?

Posts in the Large Family Moving Series:
The Logistics – this post
Making an Abnormal Schedule
Saying Goodbye
Unpacking

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21 thoughts on “Large Family Moving – The Logistics

  1. We have moved 11 times in the last 12 years, so I feel I can rightfully say, that was a good post! :)

    I also enjoyed the church posts.

    Good stuff, keep it coming, thanks! :)

  2. I don’t have a large family yet and haven’t moved for 8 years. We have 2 kids with one on the way and will be moving this summer when I will be 8 months pregnant. Your ideas are helpful. Thanks. I hope everything continues to go well for you in your new home. I would love to eventually see pictures of it once you are settled.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I have moved 4 times in 5.5 years, so I appreciate having a strategy. We haven’t moved with children yet since our daughter was born last summer. I have been professionally and personnaly moved, and I agree that using professional movers doesn’t take much of the stress off for me, probably because I like to be in control of things, but at least I didn’t have to drive the truck. :)

    I’m interested in hearing more of your thoughts on what I think is even more difficult than the logistics of moving – getting connected in a new community. We struggled with this with moving so often. It may mean anything from choosing a local dentist to making new friends.

  4. We are not a “large family”, but we are a family who moves often, usually cross country (dh is military). My best advice, whether you’re packing yourself or having movers, is to make an “open first box(s)” Paint it a bright color so you can find it with no trouble (we painted ours flourescent green last time). Put in clean sheets for everybody, paper plates and utensils, diapers, wipes, papertowels, clorox wipes, toilet paper, garbage bags, granola bars, a box (or 5!) of cereal, a flashlight (we learned this one when we arrived at our new home and the power wasn’t turned on yet), anything you think you may need right away (coffe pot!). We almost always arrive very late at night, and it is SO nice to be able to quickly unpack mattresses and throw sheets on, and get tired kids to off to sleep in their own beds. You can quickly sanatize your new bathroom with the wipes, you have garbage bags to toss out packing materials. It’s great. It is equally great to wake up in the morning, brew a cup of coffee and have cereal for breakfast, and be ready to get started. Hope that helps somebody!

  5. Great ideas, so glad to read up on improving our moving plans (prayerfully for some day soon). Here’s a couple more things that we do.
    * De-clutter as you pack; don’t move it all and add to the confusion upon arriving somewhere new.
    * Keep master bed linens accessible (and the bed of course) and prioritize setting that up one of the first things (or assign someone to it – my mom does this for us) so you can collapse easily at night and sleep well.
    * Also prioritize the kitchen supplies and unpack it first so you can function easily there; everything else can be more gradual.

  6. We haven’t moved in 13 years, and we are had only two little ones then. It makes my head spin to think of having to move with 7 children. I did enjoy reading all the tips. If the time ever comes that we move, I will be able to use these suggestions.

  7. Amy, I’m so glad I found your blog! We have 10 children between the ages of 3-12. Yes, we adopted them! We are hoping to move out of state (WI) by 2012. I am trying to do anything possible to prepare. At least we don’t have any babies to worry about. My youngest will be 4 by then. I appreciate you words of wisdom so much!

  8. Can I ask why you have moved so much, I just found your blog and started reading it about a month ago. I love it.I have also moved a lot 7 times in 5 years :)

  9. Hi! I am enjoying reading through your blog. We have 4 children and moved last year when I was 8 months pregnant. Here are a few of my favorite lessons.

    *keep a lawn chair with you-you neve know how long it will take fora chair to be unloaded from the truck. * as furniture is disassembled- put all necessary hardware in a Ziploc baggie and tape it directly to the furniture. * we labeled boxes with different color duct tape for the different bedrooms. When the boxes came out of the truck at the new house we hung a matching piece of construction paper on the bedroom doors. * wrap your silverwarw tray with press and seal for am easy clran move.

    I love the idea of the “open first” box! Brilliant!

  10. Oh my goodness~! I have 8 also and I literally laughed out loud as I went down your list to my, seemingly, secret tips for how *we* are managing our move!! Isnt it amazing, though, how moving a family this size really makes you think… “Do we *really* need that?”
    Also I have to say, garbage bags are THE best way to pack clothes, linens, and blankets and towels, hands down. They can be labeled with tape and closed and packed inbetween furniture like air sealed bags. WAY faster too!!!

      • Oh my! I wouldn’t wish that on anyone (unless it’s absolutely evident God is moving you somewhere new, in that case we can manage, right?)
        We are having a very rough time finding a suitable home at the moment. We have been renting but our current landlord needs to renovate and sell her home asap and right now- we have 2 weeks to pack and find a new home. The one we did find the most suitable is super far, but closer to a homestead reality which is fantastic for the kids. Unfortunately it means we will be without anywhere to go mid Feb – Mid March! We all just got over the flu so that’s good, we’re just praying a LOT and remembering that God works so often last minute! *smile*
        Good luck on your move! And hopefully (as they always say) the older kids can help out a little more! -Jyn

        • Sounds quite familiar. ;) God has really provided each and every time (this is move #12 for us). I’m finally realizing I need to relax and let God be God. Praying for you!