5 Tips From An Expert for Moving When You Have Kids

Moving is a big deal and it can be quite a journey! You need to spend time organizing, purging and of course packing. Boxes, boxes… and MORE boxes. Then throw a couple wild kids in the mix and it gets complicated. But with your dream home at the end, it’s all worth it! Moving can be a very exciting time and it doesn’t need to be stressful. It’s all about planning and having a positive attitude throughout the process. Involve your kids as much as possible and get them excited for their new home! Here are five insider tips (from an expert) to help make the journey more enjoyable:

Prepare your home for showings:

The first step in moving is preparing your current home to sell. Before showings even begin it is important to de-clutter, remove and organize toys, remove art, report cards, and magnets from the refrigerator. Remove family photos and anything else personal. Buyers want to imagine the home as theirs, not yours.  

Remove all pets and pet items (beds, food/water dishes, chew toys/bones, etc). We know they are part of your family but some people are just not pet people. If your pets are the larger furry variety, take them with you when you leave for showings if possible. And if you can’t take them with, make sure to crate them.

Consider a storage unit or even fill your garage with your extra things. Unless your garage is exceptional and you want to show it off, it’s fine to fill it with your things as long as the house is clean and tidy. A garage is a garage and people will get the idea even if it’s chock full of stuff.

Live minimally during the time your house is listed, have your kids pick their one or two most favorite toys to keep (preferably small ones) and pack away the rest. They will be new and exciting when you unpack them again!

I know sometimes it feels like cleaning up after your kids is a never ending battle. Those little rugrats leave a trail wherever they go! So if you don’t have time to clean up before a showing, just throw everything in a laundry basket and take it with you!

Make a Game Plan:

Have something fun planned to do when a showing is scheduled. Go to the movies, out to dinner, a friend’s house, or the park.

If your kids have homework to do, head to the library. Each showing typically has an hour window scheduled but if you have multiple showings you may need to plan to be gone for a few hours at a time. You can put restrictions on your showings to work around nap schedules or homework and bedtimes routines but it is important to be as flexible as possible and allow as many potential buyers to see your house as possible.

Start looking for your next home BEFORE you list:

We have the biggest shortage of homes for sale than ever before which means when you do list, it will likely sell very quickly. So if you have a house picked out when you list your home, it’ll be smooth sailing. If the kids are old enough, involve them in the house hunting process. Take them to showings with you and ask for their feedback.

If you don’t have a house picked out yet, it’s not the end of the world. The biggest fear people have about selling their house is not finding the next one soon enough and ending up homeless! But there are many ways to avoid this and your realtor will likely have some tricks up their sleeve. A couple options are an “extended close” and/or a “rent back”. For an extended close, instead of the normal 45-60 days, you can extend it out another month or two. Or you can do a rent-back which means that after you close you basically rent your home from the new owners for an agreed upon amount of time. It’s a seller’s market so the ball is in your court. Another benefit to doing this is that you can remove the ‘Buyers Home Sale Contingency’ from your offer on your next home which makes your offer much stronger and more likely to get accepted.

Mentally prepare the kids:

If you are relocating to a different city or even just a different school district it can be very emotional for kids. Help them get excited by focusing on the positives. Call a family meeting and discuss the plan, encourage them to discuss their feelings and concerns. Check out the new schools, libraries, and parks together and make a realistic plan on how you’ll keep in touch with the friends you’ll be moving away from.

Once you move, help them adapt to their new surroundings by letting them personalize their space. Let them pick the paint color for their bedrooms and be a part of the unpacking process. Make moving day fun! Order pizza and have a picnic on the floor while you unpack boxes. Get out the sleeping bags and have a family camping night in the living room while the bedroom paint dries. 

Research Schools:

If you are moving into a different school district there are a few websites that offer ratings or report cards for schools. GreatSchools.com is heavily weighted by opinions of parents like an Amazon review. Therefore it can sometimes be a better representation of a school than the WI Dept of Education “report cards” which are only based on standardized testing. With report cards, keep in mind that some Madison schools are more heavily populated with kids who speak English as a second language and it takes most of those kids on average until they reach 4th or 5th grade to test at the same proficiency as kids who speak English as their first language. In schools where the vast majority of the kids speak English as their first language, there is often little diversity, which might be a negative for some parents.

A “bad school” in the Madison area does not exist but they do vary quite a bit in ratings and opinions and because of that, school districts can affect the sales prices and resale value of homes.

The best way to learn more about a school is by talking to someone who has kids that attend that school. You can ask around if you have friends in that area or you can post a question about it on one of the Madison Mom’s Blog Neighborhood Facebook groups!

Choosing a school is a very personal decision and only YOU can decide what you want for your children, what is best for your family, and what you are comfortable with!


Little things can make such a big difference. Houses sell significantly faster and for more money when they are staged. It’s not just for vacant houses, light staging can make a huge impact on the way your home is perceived by buyers.

Here are a few small items that can really help jazz up the place:

A cute welcome mat and colorful wreath on the front door, place settings and centerpiece on the dining room table, a vase of flowers or bowl of lemons in the kitchen, throw pillows and throw blankets in the living areas, canvas paintings on the walls (hang with command strips). And you don’t need to go out and buy all these things yourself unless you want to, many realtors will offer this service. I work with a lovely and very talented interior designer to help with the staging process and to keep an inventory of these types of items for me to use on my homes.

The Madison area is at an all time low for housing inventory which means people are getting above assessed value for their homes. And like we all learned in high school about supply and demand, it’s best to sell when demand is high and supply is low. So, if anyone is interested in taking advantage of the market and finding out the value of your home or just exploring your options, please reach out – no strings attached!

Stephanie Kohl is a Realtor with Realty Executives Cooper Spransy and owns Kohl Realty LLC. She is also a mom of two little rascals and juggles work life and mom life like so many others.

She lives in Verona with her husband and kids and when she’s not house hunting, she enjoys running, biking, cooking, writing honey-do lists, and sitting on the porch with a glass of wine.

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Madison Moms Blog is written by and for moms who live in the Madison Area. We strive to connect local moms by sharing personal experiences, fun ideas and useful information as well as promoting local businesses. Our community begins online, but doesn't stop there! We offer Mom's Night Out events, play groups and other opportunities to connect offline, with and without kids.


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