A huge master suite might be all it takes to excite you for a move. To your kiddo, moving means Santa might not find him this year -- and when his toys get packed away, he might believe you're sending them to a kid who eats green veggies. In addition to dealing with clumsy movers and change-of-address forms, make plenty of time to help little ones understand that a move is a beginning, not an end.
1. Explore the New Place
Tell your child you're moving 30 miles away and you might as well say you're moving to the moon. Make things real by exploring the new house before moving day. If you're moving somewhere local, drive over and show him inside, or just walk around the neighborhood, pointing out where he'll ride his bike and finding the closest library and grocery store so he'll see how much his new neighborhood resembles the old. When you're moving further, spend a few hours exploring the new neighborhood online. Using aerial maps, show him the house and street, and look up sites of preschools, parks, zoos and children's museums where he'll become a regular. Just the promise of a new baby lemur at the local zoo might be enough to excite him.
2. Say Goodbye to Home
Digging up the coffins of beloved pet frogs and goldfish from the backyard is excessive when you're moving from an old house. Still, giving your kiddo a chance to say goodbye to his old home will prepare him to leave it behind. Spend a few hours walking around the yard and house, documenting beloved spots and taking treasures that will travel with you to the new place. Take photos of him holding his arms like a tree in the spot where the Christmas tree always stood and snap him holding up his favorite rubber ducky in the tub. Help him collect fallen twigs from the backyard and cut off a square of his room's wallpaper from the leftover rolls in the garage, and explain why you can't take his bedroom windows with you as a memento.
3. Get Packing
Realistically, involving your little guy in packing will only add time to the process instead of making it faster, but it's a worthwhile exercise if it helps him understand that he'll see his things again soon. Lay out boxes, bubble wrap, tissue paper and bags and use an excited voice to say something like, "Can you help me get all these toys ready to go to our new house?" While you'll have to handle the breakables alone, your munchkin can help place clothing and soft toys in boxes. As the items disappear into each box, talk about what place they'll have in the new home. When a favorite stuffed animal gets packed, say, "Monkey is going to love living on the shelf in your new blue bedroom!" Pretending to love packing might even make it a less miserable chore for you. Maybe.
4. Stage a Pretend Move
He's psyched for the tree-swing-ready oak in the new house's backyard and he's let his favorite plastic dinosaurs get packed away without a fuss. Watching burly, sweaty men lug his bed out of the house might still feel traumatic to a little guy, and the chaos of moving day is enough to make him long for his old pacifier. Prep him for the big day by acting it out in advance. Use an old dollhouse (if it hasn't yet been packed) or rely on toy trucks, Lego men and drawings to demonstrate how workers come into the house, take all the furniture and boxes out and put them on trucks. Explain that the trucks drive to the new house and the workers bring all the things back inside. Children's books about moving can also help him understand that moving can be exciting and happy. After all, he doesn't have to carry boxes full of china.
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