How To Survive Moving House With Kids In Tow
Moving house is challenging enough without small kids in tow. However, it is possible to keep them happy and their routine as close to regular as possible without shedding blood or tears.
Here are some helpful tips to tone down the drama:
Before the move
- Prepare them mentally. Children need time to get used to the fact that they will be moving house, so tell them about the move as early as possible. Show them the new house and get them excited about the move. An easy way to get kids ‘on board’ is to include them in little things like planning how to decorate their room (what colour will the walls be, where will the bed go, etc.)
- Reassure them. Let your children know that even though they are moving away, they will still be able to see their current friends and neighbours. Organise a ‘see you later’ party before moving and have them exchange phone numbers and your new address, so that their friends can visit them at the new house.
- Comfort them. Even if your children are excited about the move, make room for their sudden angst and insecurity about liking the new place. If your child has been potty trained for a while now, prepare yourself for some regression, as moving can be a very stressful period for children. But don’t panic. Everything will settle down in time.
- Clean up. Use this opportunity to declutter! Donate anything that you haven’t used in at least six months. It’s a simple win-win situation and it’ll make packing so much easier.
- Hire a professional. Pick your battles – you don’t need to be a superhero. Doesn’t matter where your new house is, engage professional packers and movers to help you. Save your energy and time for handling the kids instead!
- Teach the kids to tidy up. Depending on how old your children are, get them involved with packing up their favourite books and toys. At the minimum, let little ones decorate the packing boxes containing their items, so that they’re excited about unpacking it later. Pack in order so that things you need immediately will be easily accessible – the rest, you can unpack slowly as you settle in.
During the move
- Move while the kids are in school. Ideally, keep everyone’s daily routine the same on the day of the move. Plan your move exactly when the kids are in day care or school, so that there are no disruptions. If you need to, ask a friend to come over and watch the kids at home, so you can supervise the move (along with your helper perhaps), with the peace of mind that the kids are safe and well-looked after.
- If someone offers help, accept it! You can’t do everything on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask for some help when you need it. Get a friend to stock up the fridge with essentials, get someone else to bring over dinner, etc.
- Get the kids to help unpack. Get the kids’ rooms set up as a priority and get them involved in decorating it and settling in. Get them to unpack a box of toys so that the new place starts feeling like home faster. If the kids are happy, your life will be that much easier!
First night in the new house
- Make the first night in the new house as special as possible. Let the kids decide what they want for dinner (yes, junk food is allowed) and then have it picnic style on a sheet on the floor. At the very minimum, have fresh sheets and mattresses ready so that bedtime is comfortable.
- Comfort them when they get creeped out. Expect kids to regress a little from their normal behaviour. For example, you may need to use a nightlight in the new house until they are comfortable in their new room, or play music to hide out unusual noises at night.
- Take a break. Unpack what you can after the kids are in bed, but remember, you need to get some rest too! The unpacking can wait until they are in school tomorrow.
The final bits
- Slip into regular life as soon as possible – sticking to the normal schedule like dinner together or movie night goes a long way in building a sense of consistency that's reassuring.
- Celebrate your move! As soon as you’re ready, organise a housewarming party to invite all the friends your children want.
- Say hi. Get to know your neighbours as soon as possible, and soon you’ll feel like you’ve been living at the new address for ages.
- Breathe, relax, have fun. Repeat. You’ve already dropped the anchor – have faith that soon you and your family will have sea legs too.