PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: Tips for families on the move

Donna Erickson

California sisters Tegan (13), Brooklynn (12) and Ruby (5) Garrison walk their bikes into the back of a moving van so they’ll be the first items to enjoy when they unpack in Idaho.

We moved often when I was young. It was so common then for companies to transfer employees frequently.

When we said goodbye to one house in Santa Rosa, California, and hello to another in San Francisco, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary to be on the move.

I don’t recall the send-offs, only the arrivals, because my parents were positive about the idea that we were together as family no matter what or where.

Dad made sure my blue-and-white Schwinn bike was packed in the back of the van, the first item to descend the ramp on arrival. Those wheels sent me off exploring right away.

Once household goods were unpacked, he built an amazing swing set. With four-by-fours set in cement, his classic model was so tall and sturdy, my new friends and I could swing to the stars. No wonder it felt like home.

My childhood memories return, as households come and go on our block. If you are like these young families on the move, here are 5 tips to make it smoother for you and the kids:

1. It’s not easy to say goodbye, because connections have been made between your family and people you care about. And some kids focus on everything they’ll leave behind. There is security in sameness.

Ease bumps and smooth the inevitable by acknowledging what your family will miss. Collect contact information and photos of people you’ll stay in touch with. If possible, plan on a return visit, so your child knows you’ll reconnect.

2. Arrival day is messy and can feel unorganized. Ease chaos by marking boxes and furniture with room names. During the high-energy moments of unloading, you don’t want movers to put Avery’s heavy bunk-bed unit in a main-floor bedroom if it’s meant to go upstairs.

3. Pack sheets, quilts and pillows in dresser drawers for easy access to tuck kids in bed the first night.

4. Fill “First Days” labeled boxes for access of anything from liquid soap, paper plates, coffee and cereal, to art supplies, toys and books. Include a week’s worth of clothing, from underwear to work and school clothes, too, so you don’t have to dig through containers right away.

5. Take breaks, sip lemonade on your new porch, toss a Frisbee and enjoy your new surroundings.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to

the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

© 2017 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

–PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: Tips for families on the move–