Inside: Favorite children's books about moving and how to make a move easier with kids.
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I love packing and getting ready for a big move, said no one ever. Yet in my circle of friends, I'm the one who bounced around for more than a half dozen moves in 7 years, with two small children along for the ride and the chaos.
That means seven times we've packed up and unpacked the toys. Seven times we've set up the kids' sleeping space for good nights. And seven times we've said goodbyes. We've now finally settled in one spot (phew!).
But before finding our sweet little home in Maine, I learned a few proven tricks for moving with toddlers, dealing with moving anxiety, and how to help prepare kids for a move and saying goodbye.
First, moving to a new place is tough on you as a parent and it's tough on the kids.
But tough stuff doesn't go away or get easier by pretending it's not happening.
The first thing you want to do when your family preps for a move:
Talk about the elephant in the room with your kids.
Even a young toddler understands that something big is about to happen.
Caution: If you don't talk about the move, that can create moving anxiety for kids.
You feel anxious when you don't know what's going to happen next.
Build in some simple chats with your toddler around..
Why are you packing away stuff.
Where is the new place you're moving.
What will moving look like.
For chats about tough stuff with my kids, I look to children's books (since I'm a classic overtalker if I don't have a guide to help me). Picture books also give kids a visual guide that helps with tough topics and feelings.
Here are 12 favorite kids books about moving house, change, and saying goodbye.
Don't miss! Below my book list, I included my best moving home tips and strategies for moving with toddlers, plus reminders for helping potty training toddlers move to a new place.
This book about moving to a new home seems to be out-of-print, but perhaps you can find a used copy or one at your library. It's simply the sweetest book about moving to a new place that I've come across. My kids attached to this picture book and it was a comforting familiar read before every move. The way it's written, you see the moving process through the child's eyes...how children notice the small but meaningful details of a space that they call home.
Moving Home Tips: Ask your child a detail about the house you live in now. How many steps are outside your door? What color is your kitchen? And talk through what will be different in your new house. Soon it will feel like home once you and your things are inside.
This children's book about moving validates how your child may be feeling at the beginning of the move. There may be some anxiety about moving. Change is hard. And sometimes having to say goodbye can feel like a Bad Bye. By the end of this book, we see how surprises in a new town can turn change into something new that feels good.
Moving Stress: Point out the emotions you see in the characters in the book, and how different they look at the beginning and end of the move to a new place. From angry and sad, to curious and happy.
For helping your toddler with big feelings, we also love to use the game Animal Chat. This game has turned into an easy way for me to crack the code on what my kiddo is feeling. I'll sometimes hold up one of the emotion cards, and without saying much of anything, the gesture signals are you feeling worried/frustrated/sad/lonely?
It's much easier to have a chat with your child by first highlighting whatever emotion they're feeling. Feel what you feel, and then it's easier to move on.
When my kids were in Montessori preschool, I'd sometimes see some Berenstain Bear books rotate onto the bookshelves. They're classic children's books on reading about a specific topic or problem that kids face. And we found stickers in the back of this book!
Moving Home Tips: Moving often involves saying goodbye to friends. Even if your family move means you'll be staying in the same area, it may not be the same neighborhood or same street as your friends.
I liked to use that Girl Scout motto with my kids of how we'll make new friends but keep the old.
If you're not famliar with The Kissing Hand, that's a sweet story to check out for talking to toddlers about how your love stays even when you're apart (like starting school). This book in the series (also with Raccoon) focuses on how moving to a new place is hard on kids. Raccoon has to say goodbye to his old home, but he discovers a special reason to love his new home.
Moving Anxiety: The Kissing Hand books illustrate what's so hard about a goodbye. To validate your child's feelings, the first step is being true to what the child is feeling. This tender book starts from the place of recognizing the tough stuff before moving on.
Whether you're building your new home or just want to spark your child's imagination, this beautiful picture book shares all kinds of homes you could build..from a tree house to a castle...and what living in that home would look like. The sweet message at the end shares how no matter the size of the house, where you live together is the best home of all.
Prepare to Move: Make an activity out of the idea of building a home that could look like anything. Your child could build a fort or a home for her stuffies. Talk through ways to make this house or fort feel extra cozy to start preparing kids for your own move.
Related: If you're building a home, there's a board book for babies and young toddlers all about trucks working to build a new home.
Turns out, there are so many playful ways to say goodbye besides the standard, see you later, alligator. This silly lift-the-flap book of fun goodbyes is one to pull out for any goodbyes, whether it's a goodbye to friends when you're moving to a new house, or goodbyes at the start of daycare or preschool.
Prepare to Move: Find out which silly goodbye is your child's favorite (and share yours.) And use your fun goodbye with each other before the big move or a big goodbye, so it feels familiar.
7. You Go Away
This picture book helps with moves or any shift in family life (like a parent traveling, start of school or a separation) in highlighting how people you love sometimes go away, but they always return. The repetition of words acts like a refrain that's comforting for toddlers. The illustrations show different family dynamics and situations where someone is going away and coming back.
Moving Home Tips: Point out the illustration that feels most like the going away you're about to experience with your child. Roadmap how your goodbye is going to look, and reinforce that whoever is going will come back. If your whole family is going away in the move, you can reinforce how you'll come back to visit friends.