10 Smart Packing Tips For Moving With Kids

graphic, moving boxes, boxes

Packing is a daunting but necessary task when you’re moving. Throw an infant, a toddler, and a baby into the mix and it feels impossible.

It’s not even a favorite task when vacationing, much less on a larger scale when you’re moving to a new house. Packing your life is exhausting and quite honestly, has made me think of the minimalist route the couple times that I’ve had to do it. 

I do have an advantage as I love to pack. I think it goes hand in hand with my love of lists and organization. That being said, even I get pretty extremely overwhelmed when packing with 3 kids. Their excitement is unparalleled which can make the process both enjoyable and borderline chaotic. 

What To Do First? 

The first thing I like to do is, you guessed it – make a master list. This makes the entire process easier and faster. 

I go to each room and make a list of everything that has to be packed. Essentially this becomes the inventory for the home. It’s going to be used for packing, moving, and unpacking. It’s meant to make life much easier knowing exactly where items are when you move.

It also helps to forecast what and how many supplies are needed.

Top Packing Tips To Make Moving & Unpacking Easier 

1. Don’t pack clutter 

This tip is magical when you can start a couple of weeks or months before you start packing. Declutter your home by going through each space in your home and get rid of items you and your family no longer use or need.

Decluttering of toys was done over months in our home – yes months! When you get kids to declutter, somehow every toy (that they haven’t played with for months) becomes their favorite. I didn’t battle much with them because I knew I had time. Ever so often, we revisited our toy storage and decluttered. After a few times, they got into it and I was able to leave them to sort it out – they did a great job!

Even during packing, before putting items into a box we continued the decluttering process and got rid of even more unused or unnecessary items.

2. Get all essential supplies

Getting supplies ready before you start makes everything run more smoothly.

Some essential supplies to include – boxes, bubble wrap, bags, tape, labels, stickers and so on. 

3. Get the kids involved 

When kids are around the best thing you can do is to empower them and get them involved. Channel their excitement to pack their bags or to help declutter their toys and books. Let them help by labeling boxes if they can write or stick colors on the boxes if you’re color-coding. 

4. Use an inventory 

Following from the point above, this is a step you don’t want to skip. Let this inventory be your best friend. It’s not enough to make the list, pack and then discard. Keep it close and use it.  

Think of how much easier your first few days and nights will be when you don’t have to wonder what’s in the 3 boxes labelled “kitchen”. You can eliminate this headache by having an inventory.

5. Label and color code everything

Not only is it important to pack each room into the same box or set of boxes, but labeling and color-coding (stick colored stickers on boxes) also makes delivery and unpacking much easier. 

6. Start packing items that you don’t use as often and won’t be using before your move 

From the moment we knew we were going to be moving, I started organizing supplies and started packing. Yes, my husband thought I was insane because we weren’t due to move for another few months but I knew from the last experience that I didn’t want to be stressed out right before the move and then right after (unpacking). With 3 kids now, I wanted us to pace ourselves and pack more efficiently. In the end, even though it seemed ridiculous, he agreed that doing it this way meant stress levels were not only reduced but daily life wasn’t disturbed too much either. 

Packing in stages reduces the stress that can sometimes be associated with packing. Packing can be very overwhelming and of course, time-consuming. If you have sufficient time, it’s a great idea to start early by packing things that are seasonal (example – seasonal clothing and decorations) and those that you aren’t using right now (example – family albums and sentimental items).

7. Research and use moving hacks 

There are many resources available only outlining various hacks and tips for actually packing your things (for example breakable items, packing boxes efficiently, etc) and how to move them.

8. Accept all the help you can get 

Helpful is critical for anyone moving but especially for those with kids. With our first move we had little to no help and it was incredibly stressful. Since then, we’ve been sure to ask and accept help from family and friends. 

9. Pack a kit for the first few nights 

I have seen recommendations for a first night’s kit but I took it up a notch this time and packed for a few nights instead. Moving with kids is incredibly tiring. It would be lovely to say that when we move we’re gonna hit the ground running, start unpacking and setting up but for our family, we need to plan for a few days of adjustments. Even if we don’t end up using the extra things (which we did btw), at the very least it would ease our minds that we have everything we need readily available to us.

In this kit, we packed:

  • Favorite toys, activity packs, and snacks for the kids
  • Pampering kit – pack muscle relaxants, a scented candle or a favorite relaxing body wash to destress-whatever you need
  • Toiletries
  • Bedding and towels
  • Clothes for a couple of days

In the last week, pack everything except essentials for work or school. 

A good tip is to include these essentials in your first night bag or suitcase and aim to pack almost everything a week or two before moving day. 

10. Keep a small box of toys and activities for the kids 

Pack a moving day kit for the kids. Moving day is hectic – there’s no way around this fact. Packing a small box or bag for each kid ensures that they’re entertained and well-fed. This reduces the chance of crankiness and increases the chance of a smoother moving day for everyone. 

packing tips for moving with kids

What To Pack Last? 

Pack essentials that you always use in your first night(s) bag or suitcase :

  • Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash 
  • Hair supplies 
  • Electronics and chargers 

Take away 

These tips have allowed our family to move a few times with way less stress than our first time and I’m sure it’s going to be helpful to you too. We’re used these tips while we pack to migrate to Canada and it has worked so well! We’re currently in quarantine and everything that we need for our two weeks is super accessible.

I’m always on the look out for new packing and organizing tips. Let me know if you have any tips and tricks that you recommend for families who are moving!

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