I thought moving with three kids was tough. When I learned someone in Chicago needed to move with ten kids, I couldn’t believe it. Ten kids? And they’re moving?! Yes, it’s true. Supermom Susan is about to move with 233% more children than I had when we last moved. I couldn’t wait to know how a mom of ten (did I mention there were 10?!) kids was planning her move.
Susan and I met for the first time at a coffee shop. Every time a woman walked in, I needed to decide whether to approach her. Not until that moment did I realize that I had a preconceived notion of what a mom of ten looks like. If I had ten children I promise you that I would look exhausted, harried, mean and in need of coffee pronto. Susan walked in, beautiful, impeccably dressed, and with an air of calm and kindness about her. She sipped her tea as she told me how she planned to move with ten kids ages 2 ½ to 16. This was totally not what I expected.
With a parenting guru on my hands, I needed to learn everything. Susan walked me through her homeschooling schedules, her grocery planning, and her laundry system. Susan exuded tranquility when describing her daily life and she seemed relatively unfazed about the process of moving. I felt baffled by her calmness, but Susan explained to me how she does it.
If You Move with Ten Kids, Set Priorities
A common theme from my moving interviews is to take it one step at a time. For Susan, her first and most important step is to finish the homeschooling curriculum before their move in June. Her family sometimes uses the summer to cover material they didn’t get to during the school year. Since they will be busy moving over the summer, school is her number one focus right now. Susan is also teaching someone else’s child, a fifth grader, so she feels motivated to stay committed to the coursework. If it was only her own children, she admits that she might be tempted to take a break and get some packing done. Taking it one step at a time, schoolwork is what Susan’s family will accomplish first before the packing begins.
Take Inspiration From Military Moves
Susan’s husband, Philippe, grew up as the youngest of eight children in France. Since his dad was in the French military, his family moved every two to three years. As Susan told me, “Philippe loved it. He embraces moving. He sees it as an adventure.” Susan and Philippe embarked on their first moving adventure about ten years ago when they moved with four kids, ages one through six, from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Philippe’s own military training came in handy when dealing with the moving logistics. While Susan took care of the kids, he hired the movers, took charge of the planning, and executed the plans in an efficient and organized manner. Susan credits Philippe’s positive attitude about moving for lifting the spirits of the entire family. The fact that he handles the logistics efficiently is pretty awesome, too.
Create a Packing List for the Kids
When I asked Susan if she packs up the kids, she responded, “More and more, no.” Whenever Susan’s family goes away for a trip, she creates two packing lists – one for the girls and one for the boys. Susan packs the youngest children and she usually checks the suitcases of the kids up to age seven or eight. She asks the older kids to supervise the younger ones. Her oldest children are excellent supervisors. Part of their job is to make sure that the younger kids’ clothes still fit them. Some kids might pack a nice pair of pants for Christmas even though they haven’t worn those pants in three years. The older kids are on the lookout for these items. Susan plans on using the packing time before the move to go through the kids’ clothes and to pass along any clothes they’ve outgrown.
Have the Declutterers Help The Hoarders Before Your Move
Philippe and his mom take a no-nonsense approach to material goods. If the table won’t fit in the new space, out it goes. Susan and her mother, on the other hand, might feel sentimental about the table. Even if it doesn’t exactly work in the new house, they might find themselves saying, “Not the kitchen table. Think of all the memories at that table.” Susan and Philippe’s kids are split. Some of them are orderly like Philippe. Other kids keep their many prized possessions under or around their bed and they can’t throw stuff away. The kids understand that it’s fine to keep their toys, but they know they won’t get any new ones. Susan admits that a common refrain in their house is: “We don’t keep garbage.” She’ll let the kids keep the cardboard boxes they’ve been playing with for one week and one week only. After that, it’s time to let them go. There’s not enough space to keep garbage in the house. Susan is trying to enlist the help of her naturally orderly children to assist the others and especially to help them emotionally. “It’s helpful,” Susan says, “not just to help the other kids, but to help me, too.”
Having One Child is Just as Hard as Ten
According to Supermom Susan, she says having one kid (or three kids) is just as hard as having ten. If I had ten kids, I don’t think I’d be saying that, but I’ll defer to the expert. Susan says people think, “Ten kids?!! How do you do it?” (Yes, that’s exactly what I thought). She explains, though, that the kids came one at a time. Susan and Philippe had time to get used to each one and every child folded into the family. It’s their normal; their family. It’s not like ten kids happened all at once. Susan admits that would be challenging. Susan explains, “Even if you have one child, that one child takes all of a parent’s time, attention and worries. With ten kids, it’s not ten times more. You still worry about the day to day. The things you expect to be hard are hard. It’s hard for the kids to leave their friends. It’s hard to declutter. It’s hard to pack up the house. It’s hard to do school at the same time. It’s hard to take care of the toddlers who are changing clothes multiple times a day while you pack, but that’s life.” Whether you’re moving with one kid or ten kids, you face similar challenges.
I learned that I can never complain again about moving with three kids. I learned that people can look fabulous and also be the mother of ten kids. I loved Susan’s can-do attitude, although she continuously attributed this to her husband and his positive outlook. If someone in your family feels excited about the move, latch onto that adventurous and joyful spirit. If you have a hard time donating household items, ask someone with less attachment to things to guide you through the process. Set priorities as you begin the moving process to help you take it one step at a time. Whether you move with ten kids, one kid, a dog, or you’re moving solo, it’s still a challenge. Use Susan’s words of wisdom to help you get through it.