The Single Parent’s Guide to Planning a Stress-Free Move With Kids

This is a guest post.

Many single parents find that moving is the right option for them. Maybe you need to find a lower-cost living situation to support your family on a single salary, or perhaps you want to move closer to your extended family. Whatever your reason, the move is happening, so you’ll need to make the best of the situation.

Moving is stressful, even if it’s just you; adding kids into the mix makes the whole endeavor more challenging, especially as a single parent. However, there are things you can do to help make the move go more smoothly for yourself and your children. With good planning, good communication, and an abundance of faith, this move can be a positive experience for your family.

Tips for Moving with Kids as a Single Parent

Plan Your Move Announcement

For many parents, one of the most stressful aspects of moving is just sharing the news with their children. A move, no matter the reasons, will be disruptive for kids. They will be leaving their friends, school, neighbors, and the home they know.

Related: Moving With Kids: How to Ease the Transition

Find a quiet time after school or on the weekend and sit the children down to explain the news. Be clear and honest about the reasons for the move while keeping your explanation age-appropriate. 

Examples include:

  • “Daddy found a new job that’s too far away for us to stay here.”
  • “Mommy wants to move closer to your grandparents so they can be a bigger part of our lives.”
  • “We need to move to a new place that’s less expensive so we can afford all the other things we need.”

Children will react to the news in a variety of ways. The most important thing you can do is validate their feelings. Let your children know it’s okay to be sad or even angry with you. Give them room to express their feelings. Answer any questions they have as best you can.

Some children may not want to share their feelings; that’s okay, too. Let them process the news in their own way. Check on them in a day or two and see if they want to talk more or have questions. 

Provide As Much Clarity As Possible

Children of all ages, but especially younger children, appreciate clarity. Be as specific as possible when discussing the move. 

For example, let them know things like:

  • The date of the move.
  • What their new home will be like.
  • Whether pets will be coming.
  • Whether favorite household items can come.
  • What their new town and neighborhood will be like.

When the move gets closer, walk them through it so they know exactly what to expect. Tell them if movers will help move your belongings or if you will be renting a truck. Help them understand precisely when everything will happen, especially if the move is multi-day.

Related: 10 Ways to Raise Independent Children

Use the Power of Positivity

How your children process and ultimately view the move will have a lot to do with your attitude. Keep a positive face if you are looking forward to the move.

Consider turning the move into a big adventure. Encourage your children to get excited about attending a new school, making new friends, or joining new sports teams. Remind them that they’ll be able to decorate their new room. You may even want to help them pick out new paint colors for their wall, new posters, or new bed sheets if you have the budget.

Another great way to help children understand the movie is to share stories of biblical characters who also had to move. For example, in Genesis, Abraham and Sarah followed God’s request to leave their home and settle in the land of Canaan. In Exodus, Moses and the Israelites of Egypt left everything they knew to find the Promised Land. The Book of Ruth shares the story of Ruth, who left her home to move with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem.

Help Children Get Familiar With the New Area

You can ease some of the stress of moving by helping your children get familiar with their new area before the move. If your new home is close, explore the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Find the local parks and trails, and drive past the school and grocery store. If your children have specific hobbies like karate, dance, or ice skating, find the local businesses that cater to their interests. 

If you aren’t near your move destination, use Google Earth to scout the area with your kids. Remember to stay positive and highlight the area’s good things.

(Still looking for a destination? Learn about school districts that succeed.) 

Recruit Your Children To Help With the Move

Don’t let your children just be passive observers; get them directly involved. Getting them to help with the move will keep them engaged and help them take personal responsibility.

Before you begin packing, declutter. Ask your children to set aside the things they no longer want or need that don’t make sense for your new house or climate. You can give these items away or even challenge older children to see if they can sell them. Many children enjoy the idea of giving away their things to those who are less fortunate. 

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” — Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)  

Once the decluttering is over, show your children how to pack up and label moving boxes. Give them the needed materials and ask them to pack their boxes. (You may need to help younger children with this process.)

Assign older children specific chores, like packing all the books, games, and linens. If your budget allows, you may want to consider offering a payment for each box packed. Here are even more great moving readiness tips for kids

Managing Stress on Moving Day

If you’ve given your children a clear rundown of the schedule on a moving day, things will likely go more smoothly. Make sure every child knows what they should be doing on the day. If you have young children or toddlers, bringing them to the home of a friend, family member, or babysitter might be easier during the loading process.

On the day before the move, pack bags for each child with their most important things, like special toys, blankets, and favorite snacks that they can keep close at hand. Bring some games to play during the drive, and ensure tablets and phones are charged. Another fun idea is to ask your children to make a moving day soundtrack to listen to during the drive. Or, you can listen to a favorite podcast or audiobook. 

Celebrate New Beginnings

Though a move as a single parent may seem daunting, you can do it! Just take one step at a time. When the move is complete, make sure to celebrate. That might mean going out to a restaurant or pizza place with your kids, doing a movie and popcorn night, or even giving them each a small thank-you gift (maybe a cool new backpack or notebook for school).

Take your time to unpack; it doesn’t all have to be done in a day. 

Finally, let your children feel their feelings. It’s okay if they are unhappy, nervous, or unsure of their new surroundings. It will take time for them (and you) to adjust. Validate their feelings and don’t shut down negative emotions. Remind your children that no matter where you live, they have your unconditional love. 

You’ve got this!

About the Author: Theresa Bass