Moving house is stressful and exhausting. It’s unfortunate then that a lot of families find themselves in this position during pregnancy or with the arrival of a new baby. When we found out I was pregnant with Jules, we put our two-bedroom house on the market and started the search for a bigger home as we knew we needed more space in which to raise our family. We finally moved (read more here) and these are my 10 top tips for surviving this hectic time when you have small children:
1. Hire a removal company
Unless you have very few possessions, get a removal company to do the moving for you. Get at least three quotes from different removal companies – this should involve someone coming around to your house to meet with you and discuss your moving needs. You may find that you will receive very different quotes, so choose a removal company that can work to your budget AND which you feel most comfortable with. In the UK, choose a company that is BAR registered (British Association of Removers). The company we settled on were brilliant. For me it came down to gut instinct when deciding on them. They were very caring and helpful with advance packing while I was pregnant, and then where super considerate and just brilliant on moving day.
2. Tell your children about the move at an appropriate time
We find that it’s best not to tell Jasper (age three) about upcoming events too far in advance, and I imagine this is the same for many other small children. We slowly starting packing non-essential items, but once we had exchanged contracts we had to finish packing up the house in nine days. It was at this point we told Jasper that we would be moving house. For us, this was perfect timing as it gave Jasper enough time to process his thoughts and emotions before saying goodbye to his first home. He was then not concerned by the boxes piling up in the house, and happy to get involved in the packing too. You will know your own children best when it comes to telling them about the house move. If we had told Jasper months in advance he would have become disheartened by the long wait until moving day. This timescale may, however, need to be adjusted if you will be moving to a new area and your children changing schools.
3. Keep the new house neutral
I’m not talking about decorating themes! What I mean is its best not to show your young children photos of the new house because they will include other people’s belongings in the rooms. However, you could build excitement and anticipation for their new home by driving your children pass the house to see the outside and the local area. You could also plan their new route to nursery/school from the new house, and visit local shops, parks and libraries if you are moving to a completely new location.
4. Moving is a good thing
You may find your children are having difficulty processing the thought of moving house. Talk about the move in a positive way, and promote the good in all the changes you will be experiencing in your family life. Start with simple things like sharing ideas of how your children would like their new room(s) decorated, and build up into conversations about bigger changes like different schools and new friends.
5. Packing takes time
Don’t underestimate how long it will take to pack up your house. Try give yourself two weeks of as much free time as possible to get the packing done without last-minute stress. If you can, arrange for some child-free days so that you’re not constantly interrupted while packing. Alternatively, if your budget will allow and you’re short on time, have your removal company do the bulk of the packing for you.
6. Let your children take responsibility for their own possessions
Aside from some child-free time to get the bulk of your house packed up, involve your children in sorting and packing their own toys and books. This is also a good excuse to declutter and weed out toys that may no longer be age-appropriate or played with.
7. Essential packing
The first couple of days in your new house will feel weird. Your possessions will be in boxes scattered in strange new rooms, and you will feel so overwhelmed and exhausted. To maintain some sanity, ensure you pack a small bag for every family member before moving day. Keep these bags in your car so they don’t get muddled up with the boxes and furniture which will be transported by the removal company. In each bag pack a few changes of clothes, pajamas, bedding, a towel and essential toiletries. For children, pack a few of their favourite toys and books too.
8. Moving day
The big day will be exhausting, emotional and stressful. The house (old and new) will not be an appropriate environment for small children. Ensure you have childcare away from the house lined up for the full day.
9. Priority unpacking
As soon as you are in your new house make it a priority to get your children’s room(s) comfortable before they get home. Make up their beds and lay out their favourite toys and books from the emergency bags (see item 7). Consider leaving them a gift from the new house – something simple like a colouring book and pencils, or a new picture book for their first bedtime story in the new house. Keep to your usual evening routine and get your children to bed as normal. This will help with the settling-in process and your children should feel comfortable with their first night in the new house.
10. Settling in
Unpacking your boxes will take a while, but try not get bogged down by this. Soon after the move, take time out as a family to explore your new local area and have some fun after all the stress of moving home.
I hope these tips will be helpful if you are moving house soon. Get in touch and let me know if you found them useful.