If you think back to some of the most stressful experiences in your life, it’s likely that moving house will be among them. Years ago, when we moved our toddler and baby from one house to another, I can remember crumpling into an exhausted and emotional heap. We had international guests coming to stay a few days after we moved in, and Christmas was also looming. There was the old house to be cleaned and the new house to be set up, children to be settled, Christmas shopping to do and guests to entertain. One night, seeing my distress, my husband ordered me to bed, while he stayed up into the wee hours assembling furniture and unpacking boxes. Yep, moving house with kids can be stressful, yet it can be exciting and rewarding too.
There’s a lot you can do to ease the strain on the family, and to make the whole process run as smoothly as possible. We asked you, the Be a Fun Mum community for your tips, and you came up with some rippers! We hope these ideas help make your next move a family adventure, and not a misadventure!
• Organise a family meeting and discuss the moving plans with your kids, if they are old enough to understand. Involve them in some of the decision making, where possible.
• Visit your new house or take a virtual tour online, to help familiarise them with their new home.
• Read books from the library about families that have moved house to help prepare them for the move.
• Research your new area, with your children, so you can all get excited about the new opportunities the move will bring.
• Tell your children stories about previous moves you’ve had, especially the funny and good points about those moves.
• Accept any and all offers of help! Try not to take on too much yourself and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help.
• Reassure your children about the change. If you are moving far away, consider having a “see you soon” party before you leave. Also communicate to your children that they will be able to keep in touch with their family and friends.
• Moving house is a great opportunity to de-clutter and simplify. A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used something in the past twelve months, toss it.
• When de-cluttering, set up a box for goods to donate, a box for goods to sell, and a box for rubbish. If you think you will have a lot of rubbish, order a skip for the week or two before your move. Keep toys and clothes to a minimum.
• Let kids decorate and write on the packing boxes to show what’s in the boxes
• Hire a babysitter while you pack, or pack in the evening when the children are in bed. If you need to pack during the day, get the kids helping to pack the non-fragile items.
• Buy a special bag or box for each of your children and ask them to fill it with things they love, plus a few items for them to have during the actual move and settling in time (when most of their things are not accessible).
• Disassemble the beds and let them sleep on the mattresses for a week or so before the move.
• Leave their favourite toys out as long as possible and pack everything else.
• Use butchers paper to wrap items instead of newspaper to reduce the need for washing after unpacking.
• Have a box packed and labelled with essentials that you will need at the new house (bowls, cups, kettles etc).
• Pack a suitcase for the first week or so (like camping). Then you can slowly unpack.
• Do not move anything that is broken and that you “intend” to fix. Get rid of it.
• Pack each room independently and label the boxes clearly with the room and content inside.
• Do not move anything still in boxes from your last move (unless it’s contents are highly sentimental).
• Put packed boxes in a separate room with the door shut so kids are not tempted to unpack or climb boxes.
• Make a casserole before you move, freeze and enjoy on your first night.
• Pack a picnic basket with sandwiches and tea for when you all need a break. Having food and drinks readily available also help keep little ones occupied.
• Make sure the tools needed to put beds back together are handy. Always stick screws and bolts to bed frames in a zip lock bag.
• Have fresh sheets ready and put together the beds first thing so everyone has somewhere comfortable to sleep on the first night.
• Get the kids rooms set up as a priority and make them as homely as possible.
• Hiring a removalist WILL make things easier to move in one go. You can also ask removalists to put the furniture together when you arrive.
• Move house while the children are at school or day care so that they’re not underfoot. It is important to make sure the kids are occupied and not in danger.
• Aim for a week overlap to give you time to move in and clean the old house etc.
• Pay a cleaner to do the final clean, if possible.
• Prioritise your set up – bedrooms and kitchen are a priority and then get the bathroom ready for use. The fridge and BBQ (for easy meals) are essential items to have ready in the new house.
• It’s not uncommon for children’s behaviour to change with the changes. Give it a little time.
• Save a few packing boxes for play.
• Don’t unpack the things you don’t actually need – prioritise unpacking.
• Keep the kids room as similar as possible to the old house and let them help set up and decorate their new rooms.
• Use a nightlight at the new place until they adjust to the change.
• Play a familiar CD so they cannot hear any unusual night time sounds.
• Make sure you have bread and milk and any other essentials ready.
• Let them unpack a special box when you get there.
• Put together a treasure map of the new garden and the new local area to explore.
• Try to stay calm so that your kids are not picking up on your anxiety. Make it an exciting family adventure.
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