Moving house is stressful enough at the best of times when there's just yourself or one other person to consider. But what about when you're moving house with children? No matter how many little darlings you've got, it's bound to increase the stress levels for all involved as you naturally worry about the disruption it will cause to their lives and how you'll organise everything.
If you're about to move house with the kids in tow then here's our guide to being prepared - before, during and after your move...
top tips for moving with children:
Things you can do to make moving easier for children before your move
Whether you are planning to move in the UK, to Europe or Internationally, moving house is weird for the children. Whatever age they're at, they will have formed a strong attachment to their current surroundings and everything that's familiar to them, and may be nervous or worried about moving to a new house and everything changing. To assure them before you move, you could:
- Tell them about moving house as soon as possible – the key to coping when moving house with children is to give them time to think about it and prepare. Be ready for the questions, encouraging them to ask about the move and being as positive as possible in your answers. If you don’t know the exact answers yet then tell them it’s a great question and you’re going to find out, then make sure you go back to them. Tell them where you’re moving to, when you’re moving and why (again, making it all positive!).
- Tell them about the benefits of the move, the new opportunities and exciting aspects – are they going to a new school? Does it have new activities they can get involved in? Are there local sports teams etc they might be interested in? Keep them focused on what they stand to gain from the move, and not what they'll lose.
- Get visual! Show them some pictures of the place you are moving to, the new house if you have them or maybe some maps etc so they can picture how things are going to be. If you’re moving internationally or long distance look at the route you’ll take or where it is in relation to your current home.
- Be positive about the move – even if the circumstances surrounding the move aren't. Try to keep stressful discussions about the move away from children as much as possible - if they are nervous this might make them feel more scared. Try to focus on the positives and the new opportunities and exciting things the move means to them and your family.
- Get the kids involved in planning the relocation - if you are buying new furniture or choosing paint or soft furnishings, ask their opinion and let them be involved in planning their new bedrooms. Let them do some research into their new area - for example local clubs and teams, places to visit, what their school is like. If they can use the internet help them to browse online.
- Plan to keep in touch - get older kids to make an address book with all the contact details of the friends they want to stay in touch with after the move.
- Get in touch in advance – find pen pals or get older kids connected on social media – if you’re moving house overseas is it possible to write to your child’s new school and ask about the possibility of pen pals? Maybe your child can write to his/her class or a few classmates in advance so that they know they have some new friends waiting when they get there. Or if school doesn’t work do you know anyone there already (i.e. if you’re moving house with your company do you have local contacts?)
- Saying goodbye – why not let the kids have a few friends and family members over for a going away party to say goodbye?
The physical house move
Ask your removal company about packing services
If you're trying to fit packing in around family life you might find yourself struggling. Stealing a few hours here and there to pack boxes means you're going to need to start early, and this means living amongst half packed boxes and chaos in the run up to the move. Having a removal company do your packing for you can be an affordable way of avoiding this extra stress and containing 'moving' to move day! If you still want to do your own packing make a plan of what you'll need and when, what can be packed early and what has to be left and try to keep organised as you go. Find out more about Removals and Packing Services.
Pack an essentials box
Pack an essentials box to keep everything you'll need quickly easily to hand, and an arrival bag for everyone for your first night in the new home. Have the kids help choose what they want to be in it - things that they use or need on a day to day basis, plus a few extras to keep them entertained. This could range from snacks and drinks, toys, DVDs and CDs, books or even, dare we suggest it, homework projects if they aren't changing schools. Make sure everyone's got enough clean clothes and toiletries to last them the duration of the move and the day after, when the last thing you want to be doing is hunting around for towels and clean socks.
Find somewhere safe and more fun for the kids to be on moving day
The general rule of thumb for moving day is that if you can find somewhere else for the kids to be during the whole process…do it! But of course, that’s not always a practical option – especially if you have a new born baby (read our tips on moving with a baby here), so if you do have to move with the children in tow then preparation is the key; pack an essentials box for the day of the move and keep it in your car (our guide on what to include in yours can be found here) as well as an arrival bag for everyone for your first night in your new home.
If the kids are staying with you on moving day, organise them! Find a set area for them to be and explain the importance of not wandering around. Make sure they have things to keep them occupied like colouring books, games or their favourite DVD – and don’t forget to check on them every now and then! You could also give older children age appropriate jobs, for example unpacking their own things in their bedroom or labelling boxes if you’re packing yourself. If you're moving in the summer time then pack some outdoor toys and games or a picnic for the children to enjoy in your new garden once you get there.
Older children who want to help could be given age appropriate jobs - for example, unpacking their own things in their bedroom or labelling boxes if you’re packing yourself.
Try to keep kids away from the moving truck - the crew will be busy doing their job and will have a strict routine for loading/unloading – it's not really a safe place for kids to be. Why not ask if they can have a tour when it's all done?
Expect the unexpected.
Make sure you have a small first aid kit to hand, along with a change of clothes, bottles of water and travel sickness aids if you’re moving a fair distance.
After you've moved house
Once you've reached your new house, the reality of the move will start to hit - but there's lots you can do to keep everyone, especially the children, upbeat about the changes ahead and help them settle in:
- Have a welcome party - invite your new neighbours and have them bring their kids. Organise a few games to help all of the kids get to know each other and break the ice…it also helps you with meeting the neighbours and making new friends too!
- Get unpacked - this will help you to settle into your new routine as quickly as possible - even if it's just finding a place for your essentials while you decorate or buy new furniture.
- Help your kids make new friends - get involved in the local community and school events but don’t forget they’ll be missing their old friends too, so help and encourage them to write an email or letter to keep in touch. Skype is great too for video calling and it’s free to use via the internet.
- Let your kids set up or help plan their new room - where feasible to help them feel more comfortable. Ask them where they’d like their bed or what colour curtains they might want. Taking a trip to the shops to stock up on decorating supplies or new furniture as a family is a great way for everyone to get out and about and explore the new neighbourhood while getting excited about making your new house a home.
Moving house with children isn't always easy, but by taking their needs into account and involving them as much as possible in the planning and move itself you can alleviate some of their anxieties - and who knows, you might even get them to enjoy it!