Moving is never fun, but a long-distance move with kids can feel overwhelming for everyone. There’s something surreal about the moment when you’ve secured housing and a moving truck. It’s a combination of excitement and raw, unadulterated fear. You know there’s a new adventure waiting for you on the other side but it’s stressful to think of all the steps in between. Here are five tips for taming the madness.

Plan Ahead

Whether you have months to prepare or you only have short notice about your move, start planning right away. It’s amazing how many things go into moving. Make lists of the tasks that need to be accomplished and break them into categories. Share the responsibility with other family members if you can. The best thing you can do is get as much done as early as you can.

Be Flexible

Understand that life is going to happen and that some things may not go as planned. Have a backup plan (and a backup plan to the backup plan) so that if your flight is cancelled or a detour forces you to take the scenic route, you won’t won’t feel completely derailed. Try to go with the flow as best you can.

Talk to Your Kids

Maybe you or your spouse have been given the opportunity of a lifetime and you are relocating for a dream job. Maybe you have to change cities to care for a sick family member. Whatever the circumstances, your children will likely have mixed feelings about leaving their old house, friends, and school behind. Encourage your kids to say good bye to friends, neighbors, teachers, and other important people in their lives, and to exchange addresses. Help them put together an album of photos and other momentos. Allow them to express their feelings, including feelings of anger or grief, even if they are difficult for you to hear, because this is a tremendous change for them, too. Have an initial conversation but keep the dialogue going throughout the process so you can address any issues and provide reassurance whenever it’s needed. 

Use Resources

There are so many services nowadays that you can use to make your move a little smoother. You can get lots of useful information about schools in your new area on the website, Does your new area have a grocery store that delivers? Have you considered having an Amazon package of necessities waiting on your doorstep? Have you scoped out the coupons and Groupons for your  new neighborhood? If you know people who live in your new town, reach out to them ahead of time with questions about local schools and other resources. 

Expect Meltdowns

Is someone (or everyone) in your family likely to have some sort of meltdown at some point? Yes, so expect it and prepare to let it happen without judgment. You will be tired, hungry, weary, and in need of showers. You will also be dealing with a swirl of emotions as you process saying goodbye to your home while embracing what lies ahead.

Moving far away is a huge undertaking so be kind to yourself and your family as you go through the process. Be as patient as you can with each other, and yourself, as you process all of the different emotions you will feel during your journey and as you settle into your new home. Your family will be stronger (and happier) if you don’t sweat the small stuff and just focus on the opportunities and adventures awaiting you.