Downsizing With Kids? Here’s How to Keep The Family Calm (and Carry On Packing Boxes)


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Whether by choice or necessity, downsizing your home can be a stressful time if you’re moving with a family. If you’re planning to move into a smaller place with your kids in tow, these tips will help you ease that transition for the little ones.

Put Kids in Charge of Digitizing

Know that feeling when a full room of your current home—optimistically called ‘the office’—is devoted to storing photo albums, family videos and old CDs?

Well, if you’re downsizing, chances are you won’t be able to take the ‘office’ with you, or the kitchen sink. If your children are at the age when they blow your mind with their computer skill (that age gets younger and younger!) give them the job of digitizing your collection.

Not only will entrusting them with this important task will make them feel valued, but going through old albums and family videos will help them bid farewell to the old home, helping them get closure.

See a Stressful Situation From a Kid’s Point of View

In an ideal world, you would find your next home and make all the other logistical arrangements well in advance of your move.

Whether you’re currently renting or selling your old place, the move will be smoother for everyone if you can time your move-out smoothly with the move-in at the other end.

Of course, that may not be possible. Depending on your circumstances, you may need interim accommodation and self-storage options if you have to endure some time between homes.

While you may think that this disruption would be challenging to your children, it won’t necessarily. What matters is that you practice authoritative parenting by explaining to your children why the move is happening, and letting them know what you expect from them at every step.

Keep their routines as steady as possible—not is not the time to skip a bedtime story!—and let them see you taking everything in your stride.

Moving in with your folks for six months might not sound like fun to you, but your kids could have a whale of a time. When the move is in motion, try not to assume what your children will find stressful. Keep them clued in on what’s going on, and let them experience the move in their own way.

Don’t Assume What Your Kids Will Want to Take

Let’s face it: downsizing is going to involve getting rid of quite a lot of stuff.

Even if you were moving into a similar-sized space, you would probably end up throwing away or re-homing things that you no longer use.

When you’re downsizing with children, it’s important to strike a balance between encouraging them to understand that the new house will be less roomy, so they won’t necessarily be able to have all the stuff they have, and making them feel like the rug is being pulled out from under them.

Many children in similar situations become obsessed with this line of questioning: “Can we take X or Y to the new house? How about Z? Can we take Z please!?!”

While you might think it’s neither here nor there whether the red mop bucket with the broken handle makes the cut for moving to the new house, it’s important to recognize that kids form attachments to things that we don’t necessarily value.

Reassure your children that the important things can come, regardless of how worthless they seem to you. You may be surprised by how many toys and other items your children are happy to leave behind if the objects they treasure are allowed to come along.

Whether you have one child or five, downsizing can be a stressful time. These tips will help you get the family through in one piece.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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