5 Considerations for Moving with Kids


Our most recent move as a family was this past December, when we moved from Pennsylvania to Dallas. My three boys were two, eight, and 10, and the only real childhood memories they had were in Pennsylvania (even though the older two were born in Colorado).

This move was a BIG change! My husband and I did some things well, and others, well, not so much. Transitions are hard no matter what, but here are five practical considerations to help make moving easier.

1. Have Intentional Conversations Prior to Moving

Consider your child’s age/stage as well as personality and decide when the appropriate time would be to tell your child the news that you are moving.

For some children, they need months to process and begin saying goodbye to people, experiences, and places. For others, like my boys, it was better to tell them right before we told all of our close friends, shortly before our move.

We knew that both of our older boys would handle the change better if they did not have to emotionally prepare for an extended period of time, where the goodbyes might feel dragged out and prolonged. 

2. Be Prepared to Set Up Your Child’s Bedroom First

When you’re packing, keep the important items from your child’s room together in a well-labeled box. Consider keeping this box separate from the moving truck to take with you so that you can use it as soon as you arrive.

When you get to your new house, hang up their bedroom wall decor and posters, pull out their favorite stuffies, and set up their beds with their regular bedding and favorite blanket.

Transitioning to a new room in a new place can feel overwhelming and scary to children, but if they wake up and see their favorite picture is still hanging on the wall above their reading chair, just like their old house, there will be a sense of familiarity and “at-homeness” that can provide a bit of stability. Anything you can physically do to make your child feel more at home in a new space can help provide a feeling of safeness and security.

3. Help Your Child Build Friendships 

Before your move, research ways to help your child plug in and make friends right away. This could be play groups, sports teams, dance classes, music lessons, gym memberships, library programs, or local churches.

If you’re moving at the beginning of the summer, find a day camp in your new community where your child could make friends.

This is where those Facebook mom groups can really come in handy! Join the local moms’ pages for your new home and gather information even before you move. Follow local websites in your new location and check out their guides to your new town. Transition and change is always a little smoother when you have friends. (That goes for the parents, too!)

A family holds hands and moves boxes while moving.4. Consider the Timeline

Like I mentioned, we moved in December. While we could’ve easily waited until the new year to enroll our third and fifth grade boys, we decided to send them to school in December, two weeks before their winter break. This allowed our boys to ease in to a new school with new teachers and new expectations. This let them make some friends, recognize their classmates, and learn the layout of the school building. This also let them participate in holiday class parties and even the holiday music concert!

Starting out in a new school when all the fun things at the end of the semester were happening absolutely shaped their feelings about starting at a new school. When school began again in January, they were ready to hit the ground running, having made some friends and feeling comfortable in their classrooms.

Moving over the summer? Call your child’s school district and find out what summer programs or school-sponsored camps may be offered. You can also ask if you can tour the school with your child prior to enrolling.

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5. Adjust Your Expectations

Transitions aren’t easy, and moves are a big deal for the whole family, adults included. Littles who can’t express their feelings well may struggle with big emotions and feelings. It might come out as tantrums, potty training regressions, grumpy attitudes, or withdrawal.

Try to meet your children where they are. In the middle of unpacking all the boxes, take a little time here and there to read a book together or draw a quick picture. Watch an episode of a show as a family (and then don’t feel bad if you need to let your child watch some more). Try to take your move in tiny bite-sized pieces. Show your children that they are your priority, more than completing a to-do list. If time allows, plan little excursions to explore your new town or check out a nearby restaurant.

Give yourself — and your kids — some extra grace. Change is often hard, but helping demonstrate healthy ways to handle transition is a life skill your child can begin to learn, even now. And the whole family will benefit from it!

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Nicole Tharp
Nicole is not a stranger to new places and people. She was born and raised in South Carolina, went to college (where she got her BA in music) near Chattanooga, Tennessee, spent 14 years in Colorado Springs, Colorado, followed by six years in northeast Pennsylvania, and landed in Dallas in 2023. She and her husband, Doug, have three wildly amazing, outgoing, and energetic boys. In addition to exploring new places, getting outside, hanging with friends, chauffeuring her boys to soccer and other activities, and drinking lots of coffee, Nicole enjoys singing in a local community choir, volunteering in her local church (where her husband is the pastor), and just meeting and talking to other people. Nicole is passionate about being involved in her neighborhood community and loves intergenerational relationships with the people around her. Nicole is a firm believer that heartfelt kindness and a genuine listening ear can make all the difference for someone. She believes that relationships are hard work (and sometimes require appropriate boundaries), but are always worth it.


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