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?