Approximately 12 percent of U.S. residents moved in 2012 according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and many of those moving include families with children or pets. Moving day can be a difficult time for both kids and animals, so keeping them happy and distracted can go a long way toward ensuring the moving day experience is calm and peaceful.
One of the simplest ways to keep pets and kids distracted, or at least out of the way, is to arrange for them to visit friends or relatives or, in the case of pets, have them boarded for the day. Those options aren't always available though, fortunately, there are a few simple but effective ways to keep moving day a productive, positive and uneventful experience.
- If it’s possible, hire a babysitter or pet sitter for the day. Both kids and pets crave attention and hiring someone to see to their needs and make them the focus of care and consideration is perhaps one of the simplest ways to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted moving day.
- Try to provide a space apart from the moving activities where kids and pets can relax. If the weather is nice and your yard is safely enclosed and separated from the area where vans and movers are located, send kids and pets out to play. Use a picnic hamper or cooler to store special treats, food and bottled water for all, and provide plates and bowls for a fun, impromptu picnic. If it’s warm or especially sunny, make sure there’s plenty of shade for both children and animals. If the weather won't cooperate or there’s no secure outside area for play, designate a room for pets and kids and equip it with the same toys and treats. Make sure pets have plenty of freshwater: Stress causes panting which can easily dehydrate and animal.
- Remember: Even normally calm, even-tempered pets can become cranky when under stress. If pets are extra nervous or showing signs of stress, set aside a separate room or yard area just for them to help keep them calm, and check on them frequently to provide reassurance and, if indoors, opportunities to relieve themselves. Since doors, windows and even yard gates are often left open during a move, pets left unguarded may take the opportunity to run off, so be sure to give clear instructions not to open a door or gate leading to a pet area. Also let kids know that pets may be distracted, nervous and cranky, and extra care should be taken when interacting with them.
- Make sure you keep favorite toys and personal items out of moving boxes and where they can be easily accessed by kids and pets. In addition, consider providing one or two new toys to stimulate interest and provide an interesting distraction from the moving process. Once the moving truck or POD is packed, place these special toys and items in a separate “first night” box and either place it in the car or near the van door where it can be retrieved as soon as the van reaches its destination. Consider hiding additional surprise items in the box so they can be “discovered” once the box is opened, providing an additional distraction while the truck or POD is being unloaded.
- If you do decide to board pets, be sure to make a boarding reservation early – especially if the move is planned for a weekend. Establish clear drop-off and pick-up dates and times and adhere to them. Like any boarding event, make sure to send a few of your pet’s favorite toys or security items, as well as favorite food and treats, to make the experience as positive as possible.
- Get kids involved by letting them decorate their own moving box with crayons, markers and stickers, or let them decorate and create scrapbook pages to commemorate the event. Include a collection of family photos children can glue to pages to complete the scrapbook. Before moving day, print coloring pages related to moving or purchase one of many children's books that are devoted to relocating.
Moving to a new location can bring feelings of excitement and nervousness, and it’s not uncommon for stress and emotions to rise to the surface in kids and pets – and even in adults. With just a little planning and preparation, moving day can end up being a positive, stress-free event for everyone involved.