There’s no doubt about it: moving as a family is stressful. From adding to your current home’s curb appeal, to staging it to sell quickly, there are about a million things that need to be done, including packing up an entire household. Add toddlers and young kids to the equation, and moving with kids can turn into a nightmare.
Fortunately, we’ve got some tips and ideas on how to keep kids occupied while you pack.
Activities for Toddlers
With their short attention spans and limited motor skills, this is by far the most challenging stage when it comes to keeping them busy while you get ready for the move. Simplicity is key; anything too long and involved will only frustrate both of you. Here are a couple of activities perfect for toddlers that require little to no preparation:
Give them a spray bottle of water and a microfiber cloth, a Swiffer-type dry mop, feather duster or even some old socks on their hands, and have them go to town. Toddlers love to “help,” and with any luck, you can cross some chores off your to-do list.
Indulge in their Destructive Side…a Little
A favorite activity that lets toddlers get down and dirty while still keeping them safe and contained is homemade, edible finger paint. Strip your kid down to a diaper, put him in his high chair and give him a few dabs of this easy edible finger paint recipe. Watch him create masterpieces on the tray while you pack.
Creative Ideas for Preschoolers
Kids at this age can do some things independently but still like to keep you in their sightlines. Here are some activities preschoolers can do alongside you while you pack that don’t require a lot of parental involvement:
Bring the Outdoors In
Gather some small (but not tiny) and medium-sized rocks, put them in a shallow plastic storage bin (under the bed ones work great for this), and let their cars, construction vehicles and imaginations run wild with their very own tiny worksite.
Give Those Fine Motor Skills a Workout
Three to five year-olds still need lots of practice with their miniscule movements, so here are a few easy activities they can do that don’t involve a trip to the craft store:
- Paint dry pieces of pasta and either string on a piece of yarn to make jewelry, or glue to a piece of construction paper to make a mosaic.
- Thread pipe cleaners through the holes of a colander.
- Build structures from marshmallows (big or small) and straws or toothpicks.
Kids at this age also love to classify items. Get out a muffin tin and have them sort crayons, pom poms or buttons by color and/or size. Or better yet, put those skills to good use and have your preschooler help you get organized. Matching socks, mittens, shoes, or even going through the pantry and assembling like items (pasta, canned goods, spices) are all activities preschoolers can do that will actually speed up the packing process.
School Age Activities
Of course kids this age can and should be helping you pack, but when you’d rather be the one wrapping up grandma’s china, these ideas will keep you from hearing “but I’m booooored!”:
Older kids can help you address ‘we’re moving’ postcards, make lists of what supplies you’ll need to pick up at the hardware store and plan upcoming dinner menus. Or how about starting a “Moving Journal?” A spiral bound notebook can house kids’ written or drawn favorite memories from their old house, as well as document what they’re looking forward to doing or seeing at their new one.
Bubble Wrap Crafts
You’ve already got tons of the stuff lying around, why not put it to good use and get crafty? These sea horses look more complicated than they really are; this cute bug is made from items you probably already have on hand; and how adorable are these cherry blossom tree and bee cards? Have kids make a few and give to friends with their new contact information inside.
Found Items Collage
As you pack up the house, there will no doubt be odds and ends that pop up out of nowhere. Turn them into artwork that can also serve as a keepsake. Hot glue buttons, loose change, Legos, puzzle pieces, barrettes or pretty much any other small to medium-sized item you can think of to a sturdy, flat surface. At the end, spray paint everything in a matte metallic finish, attach a hanger, and you have an industrial chic piece of art for your new home that’s also a great conversation piece. Don’t believe us? Check out our inspiration.
We hope you find these ideas useful as you go through the seemingly daunting task of getting ready to move with kids in tow. Do you have any tips to share on how to keep kids busy while you pack? Share them in the comments below!