Moving house with the kids in tow can feel like an overwhelming task. Thankfully we've seen it done well over the years, and have some helpful tips to get you through.
How do I prepare my kids for moving house?
If you’re a parent or guardian, you know that every child is different. Some embrace change, some need to warm up to it, and every kid adjusts at their own pace. While the best approach will vary depending on the personalities involved, a few simple tips and suggestions can help smooth the transition.
1. Give yourself time
With or without dependents, moving is a task we typically underestimate. Allowing yourself some overlap time between properties will reduce the urgency — and in turn the stress — of the required packing and cleaning. It also pays to tackle the big things first, such as disassembling beds, before the removalists arrive — this is especially important if your babysitting windows are quite limited.
2. Ask for help
Don't be afraid to call on family and friends to help out. Whether prepping for the move, or taking care of the kids, any assistance you can muster up will help you get through a potentially difficult change. If your support is limited and you’re not sure who to call upon, consider putting a Facebook post (or similar) out there amongst your broader community. It may surprise you who puts their hand up to assist, whether it’s with babysitting during the actual loading and moving stage, or helping out with meals, school drop offs and other tasks. We've met people who love moving day (although they are few and far between).
3. Prepare a 'must-haves' box
Pack a separate box for things like school books, snacks, lunchboxes, towels, toothbrushes and favourite toys — that way you have quick access to necessities for the entire week, which will buy you time with the rest of the unpacking. Other handy items for your ‘must-haves’ box include spare light bulbs and toilet paper rolls. Get your children to help pack the ‘must-haves’ box — they can pick out their favourite items to have to hand, and it’s a great way to help them feel involved.
4. Have a nightlight handy
A dim nightlight is a good idea while children settle into a new place. Throw this one into the ‘must-haves’ box too.
5. Make it an adventure
Doing a drive-by of the new property to familiarise your young ones with their new area is a great way to build excitement. Moving can be approached as an adventure; exploring new playgrounds, parks and shops can be a good way to create a positive feeling for the new chapter. Similarly, involving the kids in some playful decision-making can also help everybody adjust seamlessly. This can be as simple as taking into account your children’s input on the layout of their new room.
Making as many parts of the moving process as possible a collaborative effort can instil a sense of teamwork, which certainly helps in times of instability.
6. Talk about it
Talking about the house move with kids leading up to the event helps prepare them for it. Moving House by Anne Civardi and Stephen Cartwright is a popular children’s book which aims to help kids understand moving as an expected part of life. It’s a light, amusing story that children can relate to.
7. Embrace charities and recycling
Moving, and downsizing in particular, is a good opportunity to support local charities by donating unwanted items. This can also serve as an educational opportunity with the kids about the value of supporting not-for-profits and recycling used goods.
8. Maintain some traditions
Keeping up your usual family traditions and pastimes in the new place is a simple way of maintaining normality. This might be a good approach for kids who are really struggling with the change, especially if you have moved quite far away from what is familiar. It works both ways — for some kids, new traditions in the new place can also provide a healthy distraction.
9. Take plenty of breaks
For your own wellbeing, as well as that of your children, you need to make sure that everyone is stopping together frequently to sit down, have a snack or meal and stay hydrated. Moving is a big job, and it can be draining. To make sure that you maintain energy levels and endurance, touch base every hour or so.
10. Go easy with the unpacking
Once you've finally got all your possessions into your new home, it's easy to feel like you need everything set up perfectly as soon as possible. It's often better to accept that the unpacking will take days (if not weeks), and concentrate on the essentials. Are all the beds set-up? Do the kids have access to their favourite toy? If so, you just might have done enough for now.
Moving house with kids is not easy, but if you follow these tips you should find that it is bearable — possibly even fun at times. If you have any questions in the lead-up to your family's move, feel free to give our office a call on (03) 94173443.
We've also got a tips article for moving house with pets which is definitely worth a look if you've got furry friends to relocate.
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