Moving--It's A Family Affair
By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
Toddlers and preschoolers aren't a lot of help, but they are so wonderfully entertained by empty boxes, rolls of tape, and bubble wrap that you just don't care. Give a four-year-old free rein with packing materials and you can blow through their stuff before they get bored and start eating the packing peanuts. Seriously, give your youngest ones a box and some tape and get to work. Ask them which toys they would like to give away to friends or share with other kids they don't know--it's a small thing that helps them feel like they have some say in the proceedings.
If you have children in this age group, they're in the sweet spot--old enough to be helpful, but not so old that they have strong opinions. These are some tasks a third grader can easily accomplish.
- Sort through their stuff and decide what to keep.
- Put boxes together, organize packing supplies, put color-coded labels on boxes.
- Put giveaway stuff in bags and boxes.
- Help empty closets and cabinets to get ready for the professional movers.
This is a good age range to talk about donating old games and toys to charitable groups, and to explain why you choose the ones you do. If the non-profit you choose has a thrift store, take your kids in and let them see what it looks like.
Pre-teens and teenagers are theoretically capable of really pitching in, but it might take some creativity to make that happen. These kids are leaving friends, sports, and school, and might be more interested in small-time sabotage than really getting in the swing and cleaning out the garage. If you need to resort to bribery to get them on board, it's sort of a small price to pay.
- Offer to let them choose the paint and furniture for their new rooms.
- Get their input on what they'd really like to have in a new house. Obviously, they should be realistic, but let them know their opinions matter. Ask about yards (trees, playhouses, room for a basketball goal), basements, rec rooms, and other things that might be on their wish lists. When you look at houses online, show them what you like and what you don't--and explain why.
- Sell old stuff and split the proceeds. Try different selling sites to figure out which ones are the best. Most websites require that sellers be 18, so you'll have to set the accounts up and manage the listings, but your kids can take the pictures, upload them, and write the descriptions.
- Go the garage sale route and let them set up the tables and put price tags on things.
High School and College
These are the tricky years--it's hard to move at any age, but it is particularly rough for high schoolers. The good news is that while they are quite unhappy, they are old enough to do some heavy lifting while they pout. Here are some things your teenagers can do to pitch in.
- Help with disassembling furniture.
- Smile and let them decorate their rooms exactly like they want. They're leaving soon enough, and you can always repaint.
- Get up in the attic and bring stuff down--teenagers are much more agile than their parents (and most professional movers won't enter the attic).
- Drive loads of stuff to the thrift shops or the dump. Pay for their gas and junk food along the way.
- Arrange trips back to visit friends or go ahead and plan for friends to come visit.
- Let them sell their own stuff online if they're over 18 and keep the proceeds.
- If you do a garage sale, let them manage the cash and the online sales.
Be honest--if you've got kids in college, it's entirely likely that you've already turned that bedroom into an exercise room or an office. When your college students are home on a break before you move, make sure they go through all their old boxes of stuff--you'll still have to move them, but maybe they'll purge enough to cut down on the volume.
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