Relocating With Small Children


We’ve all heard it said before, “There’s never a good time for…..”

Relocating with small children would be one of the phrases I would put there. I thought we were settled, but before we knew it, other dreams crept in, i.e. living at the beach. Each time we would visit, worries ceased, joy increased, and my husband would always play “Wonder Why We Ever Go Home” by Jimmy Buffett. We talked, joked, and dreamed about “one day.” That “one day” turned into “some day,” which turned into “why not now?” On a great whim and a prayer, we purchased a property and trusted that God would make a way in his timing.

Well, his timing came sooner than we expected, which is rarely the case. My husband was offered a job and now there is a For Sale sign in my yard! Enter all the feelings, stress, and trying to figure out how to pack and sell a house quickly with two children under five. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far.

Make it FUN

There’s chaos. There will always be stress, no matter when someone relocates. I’ve tried so hard not to lose the aspect of fun for my kids. Bubble wrap has become a king’s robe as well as a superhero cape. Empty boxes have turned into toddler traps and race cars. Empty rooms are now dubbed dance party rooms. I’ve even wrapped some surprises and hidden them in boxes so that as we unpack, they will have special surprises waiting. I am working on having Team Cook shirts made. I’ve bought adventure hats that we can use here as we wrap up and take with us as we start exploring our new hometown. My husband even bought me a bike so that we will now all have one as soon as we get there. 

Say the Goodbyes

This is our home. This is where so much of our tribe is located. Not only that, but Birmingham also has so much to offer, whether it is the food scene, activities, museums, or parks. I am already grieving Cookie Fix, Alabama Biscuit, and Bettola Pizza. We have limited time, so we’re trying to be intentional about spending it with our friends, family, and favorite spots. 

Find Moments for Yourself

Many of you know that moving is exhausting. It is mentally difficult even more than it’s physically difficult. I have found that if I can sneak just a few moments to myself, that helps with the stress. I am able to recenter, readjust my expectations, and reorganize my to-do lists. It gives me just enough time to find fun again. I wake up early to spend time with Jesus (what a difference this makes). I try to use a few moments of nap time to simply sit and be still. Very importantly, I do anything not related to packing or cleaning during this time.

I know it’s hard, mama! This is not a tip for only those who are moving. This is something that we all need to give ourselves permission to do.

Hold Tightly to the Dream and Loosely to Expectations

Even in moments of being completely overwhelmed, my husband has been so good about reminding me to focus on the dream, because the reality is that we’re moving somewhere amazing. I realize this may not always be the case. He’ll ask me, “Can you hear the waves?” It really helps! I also know that expectations can be dangerous. I have expectations for how the sale of our current house will go, for how the move and setting up temporary housing is going to look, and so on and so forth. It’s best to not hold too tightly to those desires. They can block your vision or the moments you’re in. Unmet expectations can be crippling, so we’ve decided to focus on goals, instead. Hopefully this will make everything easier and give us the least amount of disappointment possible. 

Allow Them to be as Involved as Possible

Besides simply throwing things in boxes and watching us patch walls, I asked my son to help me come up with ways to keep the house clean for selling it. His first response was, “Mommy, you can’t do it?” HA!! (No, not by myself.) Right away, he suddenly figured out how to brush his teeth without leaving toothpaste all over the sink and even found a spot to ‘hide’ his stool. I was amazed. What had I been doing wrong all this time? He took ownership and was so proud that he figured things out by himself! He’s blown the leaves, helped decide what he wants to go with us now and what he wants to save for storage. I gotten him to label boxes so that he continues working on his writing and motor skills. He’s even started praying big and asking God to perform in ways we can’t imagine or control. 


Even if you never find yourself in this particular spot, maybe some of these tips can help you in your day-to-day routines. Make sure to involve your kids in any and every situation possible. Always look for ways to increase the fun. Don’t forget to explore your city! Birmingham offers SO much. It truly is magic! 


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