The everyday life of a single parent isn’t easy, even when moving is not on the agenda. Moving is famously fearsome, even for those of us who aren’t raising kids on their own. Put these two life situations together and you get a formidable task, not for the faint hearted. But fear not- many a single mom- and single dad- have moved and lived to tell (and offer their advice). Here are eleven tips to make moving simpler and easier for the single parent superheroes:
Plan in Advance
The key to moving with children successfully, especially when you’re a single parent, is to plan ahead. Generally, three months or more should give you ample time to find reliable movers, pack and prepare your new home. Moving always entails some unpredictable happenings, so it’s good to have more time to sort them out. Not to mention the paperwork involved with moving to a new school district, which you need to stay on top of.
Start with decluttering your home so you have less stuff to move. Keep in mind- some things are more expensive to transport than to buy new, and your moving quote will drop considerably if you have less stuff to transport. Plan a yard sale for the stuff you decided to part with- your kids can help by making signs and lemonade- or contact a charity organization to donate your reusable items. Check out this blog post on charities that offer pickup services for donated clothes, household goods, and furniture.
Children are more sensitive and attentive than we imagine. As soon as you come to the decision to move, you should fill them in so they won’t find out about it before you have the chance to tell them. Discuss it openly and give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. They may be apprehensive, resistant or fearful about the pending move and it’s up to you to frame it in a positive, optimistic way. Being open, honest and positive about the move will help them come to terms with it and even get excited about it!
Involve Your Kids
Being part of the moving process will help your kids maintain a sense of control, which is important during times of major change. Depending on their age, do your best to include them in the decisions and different tasks involved in moving.
Younger kids can decorate boxes and make crafts for the new home. Older children can help paint their rooms, arrange the furniture upon moving in and even take part in neighborhood and school research. Check out this blog post for more ideas on making moving fun for kids.
For a single mom (or a single dad) moving can be a cause of financial worry. Sticking to a budget and cutting back on unnecessary expenses is key, especially with a single source of income. Keep costs down to a minimum by following these tips:
- Reuse cardboard boxes from your office or grocery store instead of buying new ones.
- Use crumpled up newspapers, socks, towels and even t-shirts to cushion your boxes instead of buying packing peanuts and bubble wrap.
- Summer is the busiest and costliest time of year for moving. Try to schedule your move for autumn, winter or spring.
- Are you moving for a job? Some of your moving expenses may be deductible.
- Some deposits for utilities can be paid in increments- check with the service providers in your new home.
As a single parent, your list of obligations is endless. Between work, housework and 24-7 parenting, DIY moving is tough to squeeze in. That’s what a full-service moving company is for. Let a professional take care of the physical aspect of relocating and relieve yourself of unnecessary pressure. Prioritize moving company costs when setting your budget- it’s worth it.
Reach Out to your Circle of Support
Hired help is expensive, so save it for the really mighty tasks. For all other purposes lean on your support systems and involve anyone who is able and willing- grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and neighbors. They may not be able to pack your whole house for you but they can definitely babysit while you pack or run errands, make dinner so you don’t have to and offer a supportive hug. Hugs are medicinal, especially for relocating single moms and dads- but you probably already knew that.
When it comes to researching neighborhoods and schools, the internet is an invaluable source of information. There are websites with school ratings and student and parent reviews, websites which list top neighborhoods by crime rate, education, and prices as well as social media outlets where you can reach out to people in your new community for advice and information. The information is literally at the tip of your fingers.
If you’re moving to a new city, try to find the time to visit there beforehand with your kids. A short family vacation/research expedition will allow you and your kids to familiarize yourselves with the new place, check out the neighborhoods and schools and find some nice hangouts, parks, and shops. This will alleviate some of the stress that comes with moving to a new place and give you some family time to enjoy each other before the moving process begins.
Keep It Positive
Moving can be strenuous and overwhelming, especially as a single parent, but if you can maintain a positive attitude it will make it easier for the whole family. As the parent, you are your family’s center of gravity and your kids’ most significant role model. If you can keep your cool in the face of major change and stress, your kids will most likely follow suit. Not only will moving be easier, they will also learn a valuable lesson in how to deal with change and tackle challenges in their own life.
Making new friends is one of the greatest challenges to be faced when moving to a new city. Don’t wait until after you’ve moved to start looking for friendly connections. Both you and your kids can find new friends in online groups and forums before you move. Social media will also help you keep in touch with friends and family in your old city, which is just as important as meeting new people. The key is to put as much energy as needed into finding your feet socially, building and maintaining your network of support.
Do you know of more moving tips for single parents? Share them in the comments!