Ask Maxwell: Best Tip on Moving with Kids?

published Apr 21, 2021
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We’ll be moving soon and I would love any tips on moving with an 18-month-old. Packing, unpacking, cleaning, everything that goes into moving to another state. I’m all ears. 🙂 


Dear Emily,

At first I was, like, WOW, I’ve got to do some research and ask my other editors to get more info before answering your question. And then I dug around on Apartment Therapy to jog my brain and found all this general advice and super basic truisms that we’ve gotten good at over the years. It all brought me to a halt. It wasn’t going to work for my column.

Personal experience is the best and though it took me a few minutes, I realized that I’ve actually moved A LOT in the past ten years with Ursula. And I’ve learned something BIG in doing it. So …

You want to really know what I think? DON’T PACK. JUST UNPACK.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

I hired movers to not only move my boxes, but to help me put everything in boxes and wrap the furniture. THIS SAVED MY LIFE. The most stressful thing about moving for me was the anxiety of detaching from the place and worrying about all the things that need to move with me. I was totally paralyzed with sorting through my stuff, so I asked them for help and I was amazed at how quickly they were able to arrive and put everything in boxes, wrapped in paper and clearly marked on the box.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
9:30 am

FIRST — I spent the weeks ahead of time cleaning up and getting rid of anything that I knew I didn’t want to move with me. We cleaned and decluttered. We sold a ton of stuff right off our front steps.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

SECOND — We woke up early on the morning of the move, I had a big cup of coffee, let the guys in, and started boxing. I KID YOU NOT, they had my apartment (I did this four times in the past ten years) completely boxed and out of my apartment by lunchtime. They move fast, are unsentimental, and — with your guidance — will clearly mark each box so you know exactly what it is. Let them do the work!

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

FINALLY — They left us in our new place with lots of boxes, furniture in place, and our suitcases ready to move in by dinner. Good movers will place all your furniture, rugs, and your bed, which means you can totally feel out of your old place and at home in your new one. ONE DAY AND ALL DONE!

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

(Note: With your 15-month-old, getting childcare for the first half of the day should totally free you up for this. Your child will be super happy once he or she is living in the new home among boxes.)

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

What you will have left are things you can take time with: kitchen stuff, clothes, art, and some miscellaneous. But you can take your time now and your goal is just to get rid of the boxes within the month. Enjoy! You’re home!

Credit: Maxwell Ryan
At the new apartment!
  1. Kitchen unpacking first
  2. Clothing unpacking second
  3. Miscellaneous third & all boxes are gone
  4. Art gets hung only when you’re ready (I’ve sometimes taken months to do this. It’s okay.)
Credit: Maxwell Ryan

Finally, hiring the moving company to bring boxes, paper, and tape and to help you box will cost money, but I believe it is extremely efficient and condenses the dislocation you are going to feel in your home to a short 24-hour time period, which is a huge gain and it’s a one-time expense. Also, the more prep you do, the quicker and cheaper they will be. The secret is to let them to do the boxing, wrapping, and carrying because they are so fast. You can literally take only one day off of work for the move and then slowly move in at your own speed.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Best, M

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

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Bedtime @ 10pm

Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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