This post is part of an ongoing series about moving with toddlers.
You've survived house hunting, a walkthrough, and a closing. None of that compares to the challenges of moving day and a night without internet. The following tips should help you enjoy your last few hours in your old home...and set the tone for life in your new home.
Get the kiddos out of the house. If they're in daycare, try to schedule your main packing day on a "school" day. If they're not in daycare, send them out on a big day out to all their favorite haunts: a museum, a park, a favorite restaurant, an ice cream shop. They'll enjoy a farewell tour of their favorite spaces and you'll enjoy packing without worrying about them getting sideswiped by a bookshelf or running through your open front door.
Make a kid-friendly "do not move" pile. You'll likely have already set aside your family's must-have items (sleeping bags and shikibutons, changes of clothes, personal care items, beloved stuffed friends, things you need on the first day in your new home). Even if you don't need to clean on your way out, add some cleaning supplies to your pile. You can keep the kids busy that night with a swiffer and a dustpan. If you'll need a toolbox for last-minute repairs, add a toy hammer or screwdriver so that the kids can work alongside you. If you've made a mystery box, consider adding it to your pile as well. It can be a catch-all for any loose items you find when moving furniture and emptying closets.
Give directions for what matters most. Labeling each room and/or large items can help movers know what goes where. But in an out-of-state move, the people packing the truck aren't necessarily the same people unpacking it. Your perfectly-labeled space won't necessarily translate to the next set of movers, so it's best to identify what matters most to you. Do you want your children's room packed first so that they get finished while they're at daycare? Do you want all of the toys to go to a specific location in the new house? Do you want all of the artwork and fragile items to go to one central location so you can keep it from being trampled by toddler feet?
Feed your movers and your family at the same time. Imagine what most families in the middle of a move buy for lunch. Would you want to eat pizza or subs everyday? Your movers probably don't want to either. Of course, if your movers tell you the name of the place where you should get subs, by all means, get subs. But if you don't get specific direction from your movers, consider a healthier and easier alternative. Fill your biggest plasticware containers with fruits, yogurt, veggies, hummus, and other easy-to-eat treats. Your movers and your family can grab a quick bite whenever they walk through the kitchen, and you can easily cover and move any leftovers to your new home.
Turn moving boxes into games. Moving boxes make great forts. They also make awesome obstacle courses. Let the kids run around and around to tire themselves out. Maybe you'll get lucky and they'll sleep all the way to your new house. The crayons you found between couch cushions and the wall decals you forgot to remove ahead of time can be put to good use decorating the boxes. Just avoid black sharpies, which will compete with the movers' notations.
Take family photos. You probably want to capture your family's last days in your home. You can take plenty in front of your empty house, but they don't tell the story of your move as well as your boxes do. Do you have avid readers? Take their pictures against towers of book boxes. Kids with an artistic bent? Trace their outlines on their art supply boxes and have them draw in funny faces. Amateur gourmands? Draw outlines of the appliances on all their boxes for a faux kitchen (this will make for fun photos AND easy unpacking).
Turn some of the heaviest boxes into a makeshift picnic table. Eat the leftovers from your movers' grab-and-go lunch, buy bread and cheese for one last snack dinner in your home, or order in from your favorite restaurant.