Moving into a new house or apartment can be a huge undertaking. Moving with kids when you can’t afford the help of a sitter can feel like an impossible challenge.
Think about moving day from a child’s perspective: hours spent watching parents wrap, pack, and label their household’s belongings; only to watch them unpack, unwrap, and store the same old things, in a new home. Boring!
Add a pint-sized dose of anxiety, brought on by having to start a brand new adventure in an unfamiliar space, and you have the potential for an unruly meltdown that can turn the normal stresses of moving into a parent’s nightmare.
Fortunately, with a little imagination and planning, parents can make moving day a family-friendly event. The following low-cost activities can keep your kids busy while you focus on your move. We even include some bonus ideas at the end of the post that we collected via social media – straight from you, the real parents.
Entertain them with tissue paper.
What child can resist a good art and craft project? Help your little ones make wall art for their new bedroom, using a poster board, tissue paper, white glue, and black yarn. Here’s how:
- On a large poster board, use a pencil to sketch a picture of your child’s favorite thing – it could be an animal, a cartoon character, butterflies, flowers, or a toy. When you’re satisfied with your drawing, trace your work with a thick, black marker. You can save time (and perhaps a bit of frustration if you’re artistically-challenged, like me) by mounting a page from a giant coloring book to the poster board.
- Lightly color inside the lines of your drawing with crayons or colored pencils. This will help your little artists put the right colors in the right places, during the last step.
- Cut colored tissue paper into 2-inch squares. You’ll need lots of paper, because on moving day, you’ll have your child roll each tiny piece of tissue into a tight, little ball.
- Have the kids place a dab of glue on each piece of crumpled tissue paper and place it inside of the appropriately colored section of the drawing.
This can take hours, even days to complete. When the entire picture is filled with tissue, glue the yarn over the thick black lines to create a finished look.
Recycled moving boxes to the rescue!
With a move in progress, your mind will be busy keeping track of your family’s worldly possessions. So make sure your most valuable treasures are safe and out of the way, in a child-sized movie theatre made from wardrobe boxes, lightweight bed sheets and heavy-duty paper clips. To make the theatre:
- Find a quiet, out of the way place, then arrange four empty moving boxes into a large square.
- Place heavy objects like weights or books at the bottom of each box to weight it down. Also, remove the metal bar to avoid injuries, if the theatre falls.
- Use the clips to connect two bed sheets. Drape the sheets across the top of the boxes, allowing the fabric to fall to the floor and cover the openings on two sides. This will create the ceiling and two walls of your theatre.
- Repeat this step to cover the remaining two openings.
- Create a door/opening by rolling one sheet halfway up from the floor and securing it with more clips.
When the mini theatre is in place, arrange blankets and pillows inside, on the floor. Bring in your portable DVD player, a few snacks and your little ones will be ready for a movie marathon.
Duct tape has you covered.
Help your little ones warm up to their new bedroom by designing (or should I say redesigning) a multi-colored “bedtime story chair,” using duct tape and/or washi tape left over from your move. Follow these steps:
- Pick a chair. Any chair will do, whether it’s a flea market find, new and unfinished, or one from your existing collection.
- Cut strips of tape in varying lengths and stick the tip of each piece of tape around the edges of a glass table or a plastic chair. Be very careful not to stick the tape’s adhesive on metal or wood surfaces, which can cause damage. Cutting the tape in advance will give your kids more time to work independently.
- Have your kids cover the entire surface of the chair with the strips of tape.
When the chair is completely covered with tape, add a chair pillow or a comfy throw. Still need more time to focus on your move? Have the kids use any remaining tape to make a matching lamp.
Bubble wrap …enough said!
Kids love to snap bubble wrap. Hand them a section of this clear, plastic packing material, and they’ll entertain themselves until every bubble has been popped.
Use this as a distraction only when you’ll be in the same room unpacking or supervising movers. Children need closer adult attention to make sure they stay safe around bubble wrap and other types of plastic film.
Social Media Poll: What Real Parents Are Saying
We asked you, the real moving parents, on Facebook, “Hey parents, what are the best ways you’ve found to keep the kids busy during a move?”
Let them help pack, age appropriately, of course. Even young children can pack clothes, toys, stuffed animals, books. It may not be neat or even efficient, but it can help them to feel like a part of the changes.
Let the kids organize their toys.
Janice recommends that the kids,
Go to Grandma’s house.
And Paul points out that most of us have excellent distraction tools sitting in pockets: our phones! Paul says that Flappy Bird* is a great game for kids, and there are others out there – even several preschool-age focused games and learning activities. (*We noticed the game isn’t available right now in the Apple App Store or Google Play, but read that Flappy Bird might come back.)
Do you have any tips for keeping kids busy? Tell us in the comment box below.