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Keep your kids and pets safe on moving day and ease them into their new home with these tips.
Moving. The idea alone (boxes! breakables! befuddlement!) is enough to make most of us want to stay put. Add kids and pets, and it can be downright overwhelming. I recently moved my husband, two kids, dog and all our earthly belongings, so I know a thing or two about how to make the day go as smoothly as possible, especially for kids and pets. Here are a few of the things I learned (some of them learned the hard way).
Create great expectations
Smart move: Start a Pinterest page just for the move, featuring photos of the new place, the new neighborhood,and other things the kids can look forward to seeing or doing when they arrive. Think new paint colors, plants for the garden or even things you plan to bake in the new kitchen. For pets, check out PetComfortZone.com for pheromone scent diffusers. Just plug one in at the new location (Feliway for cats, D.A.P. for dogs), and it will emit calming animal pheromones (natural chemicals) that help pets feel secure when they arrive. You can even buy a spray for the carrier and car.
Simple move: Little kids can get used to the idea of moving by play-acting: They can “pack” in a shoebox and tote their things around in a toy truck or wagon. Pets can practice, too: Take out the carrier a month before the move, and leave it open in the living room. When they venture near it, feed them a treat, eventually offering them a meal inside it. The carrier will become a safe, trusted place, rather than a source of anxiety on the big day.
Pack to unpack
Smart move: The Moving Day app lets you create labels with bar codes for each box, so you’ll know exactly what’s in each one and where it goes. Scan the boxes when you arrive to make sure none have been left behind. Tip: See this app in action in the “Moving Day” episode of Smart, Simple, Solved.
Simple move: Have every family member pack an essentials box (pets too!) that travels with you, not with the movers, so the things they need on that first night are at their fingertips when they arrive. Kids should include pictures of family, stuffed animals and other comforts, as well as books they love and games to keep them occupied while you rush around. Dogs and cats should have all their creature comforts too, so they know that your new home is their new home. Include one special, new toy for both kids and pets, to be opened only when they reach the new house.
Check out your new digs
Smart move: Kids may enjoy WalkJogRun.net, a site that will create walking routes through the new neighborhood that you can try out together if you’re close enough. You can also visit your local AAA site and link to your state’s AAA magazine for local highlights and upcoming events.
Simple move: If you’re moving within driving distance, take the kids for a ride around the neighborhood and visit a local playground, café or shop. For dogs, try taking a walk around the local streets, so Fido can get used to the sounds and smells, and maybe meet a canine neighbor. For cats, if you can, leave a shirt or cushion overnight in the new place. Then bring it to the cat to let her sniff it; it will help her get used to the new scents.
Update your address
Smart move: Older kids can visit USPS.com and set up mail forwarding to the new address: It takes only a minute. For pets, consider having your animals microchipped, or update your animals’ microchips with your new address. Most shelters and vets now have universal microchip readers, and if your pet escapes, that can mean a quick trip home. Confused pets can end up lost, so a GPS tracker for your pet can give you peace of mind, since you’ll be able to track them down if they wander off.
Simple move: Be sure to update your address with power companies and any other organizations that regularly send bills: cell phone, Internet, TV and credit card, for instance. For pets, update ID tags and if you’re moving far, check on vaccinations.
Give ’em a break
Smart move: Check out Care.com, Sittercity.com or DogVacay.com to hire a babysitter and/or petsitter for the day. This designated helper can either come with you or stay with the pets and kids until the heavy lifting is done.
Simple move: In advance of moving day, consider sending both pets and kids on a one-day vacation (say, to Grandma’s or to a friend’s), when moving chaos could allow both children and animals to get underfoot or slip out of sight.