Moving Across Country During the School Year

Updated on October 21, 2008
J.H. asks from Westfield, NJ
13 answers

We are moving across the country in a couple of weeks and I've never done this with a moving company nor with kids. I've actually got two questions:

1. I was going to have my kids last day at school be Oct 31, and movers are coming to pack the house the following Monday and load the truck that Tuesday. Should I have my kids go to school those days? My daughter is in 1st grade and my son is in PreK3. I worry that it will be a shock when they get home to find the house packed and/or loaded, but I also worry that they will be too underfoot and bored if they are around.

2. We are leaving Wednesday to arrive in New Jersey that Saturday. Our van should arrive the following Monday. When would be best for my daughter to start at her new school? Should we wait until everything shows up and we are a little unpacked? Or should we try to get her in the groove and meeting kids as soon as possible? She's advanced for her age, so I'm not real concerned with her missing a little bit of 1st grade (I don't know when my son will be starting up again since I'm waiting until we get up there to explore preschool options).

Thank you!!!

NOTE: This move is from Texas to New Jersey.

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answers from Dallas on

I highly recommend sending kids to school on moving day there is waaaay too much going on that day to have them under foot! Just prepare them for what they might see when they get home. As an aside, my husband grew up In NJ and we reside in E Dallas....NJ gets a bad Rap - it is absolutely beautiful and contrary to what some people think, it is still part of the US!

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answers from Dallas on

Hi J.,

If I was in your shoes, I would have my kids go to school the day of the move. That way you can give all of your attention to getting the house packed and cleaned. Besides you're right, she will be bored and I'm sure she will miss out on Halloween activities that day.
When you move, I would wait until all of your belongings are there before she starts school. Give her some more time to get used to her surroundings and new country before her starting the brand new school. If it was a different city I would say start her asap but a new country is a big adjustmnent for a little girl.
I wish you all the best in your new country!!!



answers from Dallas on

1. I would say your son will be able to deal and bounce, under 5 esp. do that pretty well. I'd ask your daughter which she would prefer, tell her YOU are making the decision, but you'd like her input.

2. With her being only in 1st grade, plus ahead, a little school time missed won't matter. Getting settled in well, will. I'd tell them, they're getting a week's vacation; get the basics unpacked in her room; and then get into the groove of school and meeting kids. Playing outside in your new yard or park area after school hours should give you a feel for other kids in the neighborhood as well.



answers from Dallas on

I moved from Pennsylvania to Texas when my children were 5 and 2. It would definitely be easier to have the kids out of the house while the packers and movers are there. They will get in the way and want your attention when you are trying to get things done. I would just explain to them that the house will look different when they get home, their things will be packed up, etc. I would also have your daughter start school as soon as possible. Young children are very welcoming to new kids - my daughter was in kindergarten when we moved, and everyone was very sweet to her. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

J. - I highly recommend your children going to school. Explain to them the adventure you all are about to take. Children handle things much better than adults do. I think if you kept them at home they would be bored to death and who knows how long the move would take. I strongly recommend as well getting your daughter into school as soon as possible. Let her transition maybe on Wednesday and then she can have a few days of the week and then a weekend and then start fresh on Monday. We did this with our daughter and it worked well. We moved from DC to hear. Please hang in there. It will be much harder on you.

PS - It is New Jersey in New York right? When did this become a different country? I am confused - good luck to you.



answers from Dallas on


NJ and Texas are very different. When you arrive the first things all will notice is the leaves. NJ experiences a real Fall where leaves change and it's cool. Not just in the 60/70 range like Tx has been. When you arrive help the kids get to know the neighborhood. Also, it might be helpful for the kids to start on Wed vs. on that Monday. That way they get the feel of school, but if it's hard they have a weekend to regroup.

I personally moved from NJ to Tx when I was in 7th grade. Moved in Feb so missed getting to know all the other new kids when the semester began. Being a Mom now I'm reminded how kids are resilient and flexible. They need to just see it as an adventure vs. as something sad. As a teenager it was hard and if that happens for you I only suggest moving at the start of the school year or in bw semesters.
Adventure... Think about all the drives you can do... DC is 4-5 hours, NYC is within a hour, Boston is 3-4 hours. So many cool places to explore. Plus, don't forget the beach and skiing!

You'll enjoy NJ. It is different from Tx, but it'll be a fun different.



answers from Dallas on

Hi J., I am from Dallas but moved to New York City last August with my husband's job. We have a son who was 6 months old at the time we moved. Since my son was too young to really understand, I wanted to try to offer you the advice that you as an adult might benefit from most.

The East coast weather starts getting cold in November (50 degrees) and stays cold till mid-May (35-45 degrees on average) with last year having an occasionally (20 degree day). You will need to buy real winter coats (puffer coats) for you and the kids. You will need winter hats and mittens. Once you get all your winter wear on, the drop in temperature from 50 degrees to 35 degrees will feel normal.

I don't know where you will be living in New Jersey but I have heard that New Jersey is very green and beautiful. And... in the summer you will have amazing beaches (possibly less than 1 hour away from where you will be living).

If you are close to Manhattan, let me know I will give you all the kid friendly ideas I have like: Central Park Zoo, the Bronz Zoo, The Children's Museum in Manhattan (might be best for younger kids? They have a whole floor that is just Dora and Diego exhibits), The Natural History Museum (all kinds of animal exhibits and a whole floor just for dinosaur skeletons).

Also, if you travel by bus or subway, you should use the website It's like mapquest except it gives you directions from point A to point B based on bus, subway, or driving directions.

We moved back to Dallas after being in NYC for exactly one year. I actually really enjoyed my time up there. I made tons of friends thru a playgroup started on a website called Give yourself 3-6 months to get adjusted to all the changes. Then, one day you will wake up and be amazed at all the opprotunities that you have up in New Jersey.

Also, Dutchwonderland might be fun to check out once you get settled.
Family Amusement Park
2249 Lincoln Highway East
Lancaster, PA 17602

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Hey J.,
Definitely have the kids be in school - they could slow down the packers, frustrate you greatly, and actually get hurt if they are underfoot.

And put them in school at the other end as soon as possible. They need to get into their new routine quickly - it will help anchor them. And it will help you by giving you more time to unpack and set up your new routines, too! You'll need to find where the stores are and how they are set up, find the libraries, and choose your favorite "I've got to take an emotional break" coffee shop! You need to find a support group as soon as possible - moving across the country is very challenging. Been there, done that.

And, yes, New Jersey and Texas are in the same country! but I think the first responder was talking about the intrinsic - Texas is different! And the East Coast is not the West! My husband uses the expression "It's a whole 'nother country!" about any two things that are very different.

My Mom came from New Jersey - she always claimed that the corn and the peaches were better there! Good luck on your move! What an adventure!



answers from Dallas on

Ha! I just moved mid school year from NJ to Texas last year!
If you tell me the area you are headed to, I may be able to connect you with people and resources.

Even though they won't understand all of what you are talking about, make sure to explain what's going on and what things you are doing. "Today while you're at school, mommy and daddy will be packing up the house for our big move!"

Either have someone watch them or send them to school, you will be too busy and they will want to help or have your attention at least.

Don't enroll your kids in school yet. This is a major life adjustment, they need you, not friends, right now. Explore the new towns and neighborhood, visit parks or beaches, bond in your new environment and house. Let them contribute something (ie artwork) to the new house to make it theirs. Every move in my youth was like Christmas--unpacking boxes and unwrapping newspaper!

Plus, you have to check out your school options--I hate NJ public schools, and have not much love for their private schools. There is constant rezoning and rehabilitating and re-everything else. There are many other options, contact me or a new neighbor to find out what those are.

Get plugged in and make new friends as soon as the shock is subsiding--try a mommy-and-me group or something--many churches and neighborhoods have those kinds of things, and they can show you the ropes, so to speak.

Good luck and God bless, and let me know if there's anything I can do for you now or in the future.

~A. Kirsch



answers from Dallas on

Dear J.,

Crazy as it is-I'll be facing almost the exact same ordeal starting the new year. I'm in the same area you are moving from as well but instead of a different state, we'll be moving several hours south to be nearer family.

I too have a 6 year old daughter who is advanced for her age (or maybe it's just the kids around her aren't average since the population here had a problem because of language barrier) and my youngest, also daughter is 3 and enrolled in preschool as well.

The BEST thing you can do is TALK TALK TALK about what is going to be happening. Talk to them and let them talk to you! Tell them ahead of time what to expect. No matter what it will be a big deal to them but in the end it will be easier to just let them go to school that last day. If they know that when they come home it'll be empty then they'll be as prepared as you can make them. Staying home sounds like a recipe for disaster and a lot of tears. Kids are resilient and adjust quickly to changes. (Our 3 yr old experienced appendicitis that ruptured and abcessed, a week's hospital stay, a long term IV at home and IV's adminsitered by home nurse and then two months later the actual appendectomy surgery. It was scarey and difficult for us but she took it all in stride and accepted everything just dandy. I answered every question as plainly and bluntly as I could and tried to explain exactly what would happen in terms she'd understand that would also not cause fear. God must've given me the right words.)

Anyway, by comparison, moving isn't as traumatic for us. I hadn't really thought about how I'd go about the whole school thing because I too, am not worried about my child falling behind. However getting those first new days over with is a good thing and the longer she has to wait before heading to school the harder it could become -to both of you. Sometimes it's best to just jump in rather than to check the temp of the water first. You know? Deal with things as they come along and try not to worry ahead of time.

(I'm allowed to say that. My husband is in the TX National Army Gaurd and was deployed last year/early this year so I parented alone during that time without benefit of any family to help.)

Be open with your kids, I'm sure you are, and just do what you can to get things into a normal routine as soon as you can. Unpacking can take a while-so be sure to set up their rooms right away and the rest can be done as necessary.

Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes if you can-I sure could use the head's up one what you experience since we'll be there soon enough ourselves!

God bless you all!



answers from Dallas on

We just recently made that sort of move. My daughter is a little older (5th grade this year). I left her in school till the last possible day, which happened to be when she tracked off. We came from Cali where she was in a year-round school. When we got here I gave her the choice as to when to start school. Technically, she could have taken 5 weeks off because she started school in July and was "off-track". She wanted to start school that very first day we arrived. So I let her.
I would leave it up to your little one. If she is out-going, she will have no reservations and hit the ground running.
As far as the movers coming to pack and clear out the house. I would let the kids go to school that day. They wont be under-foot and you can prepare them for the shock of an empty house. Make sure the night before you help them to pack those "Special" things that will go in the car with you. Or even help them pack a box or two of stuffed animals in advance so that they understand where their toys will be and how they will get to their new home. I always tried to let my kids decorate at least one box that would wind up in their new room. It helped take the stress off them, knowing they had made that special box for their stuff.
Enjoy Jersey! Being Jersey Born and partially raised, I cant think of a better place to live! I dont care what anyone says, its a great place!



answers from Dallas on

I have gone 7 major moves in 10 years. 4 were done with young children... packing with young children around is a nightmare, and watching for their safety is nervewracking.. school sounds greais! What you have to leave out is their favourite toys. Toys and what they are familiar with is what will help them through this. I always take way more for them then my husband and I have as we understand what is happening and they don't completely. Also your attitude to this in paramont - make it into an positive adventure, full exciting things at every turn .

Once you get there school is not necarassy for a couple of weeks - enjoyment is. Take them to activities that they love etc, spoil them.. all the good things about being a Mum. Also there rooms should be unpacked first.

Lastly Mum, realise this is going to be new for you to. If you need help let me know - I'm a master at settling in to a new place. Lots of good wishes



answers from Dallas on

I moved 3 kids (6th grade, 2nd grade, and PreK
) in the middle of the school year not long ago. There are advantages to it being during the school year. Your kids will be celebrities at their new school for awhile as everyone likes to meet the "new kid". I found out ahead of time about a girl scout troop for my 2nd grade daughter to join, which helped her get "instant" friends hang out with. Even if you don't plan to do scouts later, it's a great way to help the transition. Most impt. advice is remember that your attitude about the move will rub off on your kids. It's o.k. to feel a little sad and cry with your kids about friends you will miss, but make sure your counterbalance that with 4x more of excitement and positive feelings. I tried to find ways to celebrate the whole experience. The kids helped pack the boxes with their favorite toys before the movers ever arrived. This will greatly reduce their stress of not knowing where their stuff ended up. We decorated the outside of those boxes so they could be spotted easily when they arrived. We picked a few special items that didn't get packed and traveled with us. We thinned out some toys in the move, but I didn't do a major purge of toys for the kids. Moving is hard enough without losing half your stuff. So, I was gentle with that. Every beanie baby and hot wheel made the trip. If the kids WANT to stay home and watch the movers, let them (especially the older one), or pick them up for a short while then take them back to school.

We had a slumber party in the empty house with friends. Our friends lent us an air mattress for the night.
We took pictures saying goodbye to every room in the house.
We let go a big bunch of helium balloons in our front yard (all one color). When we arrived at our new home, I had a relative attach the same number of colored balloons to our front door like the balloons beat us there! It took years for my little one to realize that was not magic.

If your kids like school, get them there right away, but maybe only leave them half day. If you can find out teachers ahead of time, do that and let them call on the phone to talk or send a picture for the class to see. My 2nd graders' teacher had the whole class make a booklet for her before she arrived. We were overwhelmed, and she was estatic.

My 6th grade boy was a special situation because he has some fairly severe learning differences, so lots of prep. work was involved to help him adjust to his new school. I won't go into those details here. But, the move was a new beginning and the greatest blessing for him. Only my little one took it hard and cried the most. It surprised us since she had the least to leave behind, but she was just more sensitive and needed tons of mommy hugs and reassurance. Once she got into school, everything got much better.

Good Luck

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