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Moving House With Children

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

18th Jan 2017 (Last updated on 16th Sep 2021) 8 minute read

Moving house is a challenge within itself, let alone if you’re moving with children. Depending on their age, children aren’t always able to adapt to change as quickly as adults, meaning preparation and organisation are key to planning a family move.

Here at Compare My Move, we work with a number of property and finance experts to create helpful guides and articles that will get you through every step of the moving process. Moving house is notoriously stressful but when you’re moving with kids, it’s even more important to stay positive - that is why our dedicated team created this article to provide some top tips for moving house with children.

This article will cover the following:
  1. How Can Moving House Affect a Child?
  2. How Do You Move House With Children?
  3. Involving Children in the Moving Process
  4. Tips for Moving House With Kids
  5. How Long Does it Take for a Child to Adjust to a New Home?
  6. Hiring a Reliable Removals Company

How Can Moving House Affect a Child?

Moving house will likely be a fairly stressful event for both you and your children.

According to research by the estate agents Savills in 2019, the average British homeowner will move house only 2 times after their first purchase. Wandsworth, Basingstoke, Norwich, Rushmoor and Swindon saw the most frequent movers, with people moving every 10 years. Earlier research by IOE researchers in 2017 discovered that 2 in 5 children in the UK will move house at least once between the ages of 9 months and 5 years.

As young children are much more sensitive, a big change in their social environment can make them feel particularly nervous or unsure. Studies show that moving house is likely to have a much higher impact on children over the age of 5 as they will have to come to terms with possibly leaving their friends and old school behind. However, with early planning and preparation, there are ways to ensure the process is a positive and exciting time for everyone involved.

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How Do You Move House With Children?

How your children react to the move will highly depend on their age and whether they’ve previously moved house before. For example, there will be a range of different factors to consider when moving with a toddler versus a teenager. However, the main goals should be to keep a clear line of communication open and to reassure them throughout the process. Your children should be comfortable and somewhat entertained when moving house.

When it comes to loading your children’s boxes onto the removal van, let them know it’s going straight to the new house and will be there waiting for them, as seeing all their favourite toys drive away can sometimes cause anxiety. Lots of parents will ask the movers to load the boxes from the children’s bedrooms last so that they come off the van first. This is definitely worth doing as they will be relieved to immediately have their toys to keep them occupied whilst you begin unpacking.

Involving Children in the Moving Process

One of the effects moving house can have on children is the feeling of being out of control, so it’s important to keep them involved in the entire process. Keep an open line of communication throughout the journey and let them know what is happening when so they can be prepared. You can turn tedious tasks like packing into a fun game and let them decide what will be going to the new house and what will be going to charity.

Depending on their age, you can also make the children responsible for their own rooms to a certain degree. You can help them decide what to pack and how, where their furniture will be going and what colour they want their bedrooms to be. Keep it exciting and be as open with them as possible. If they still show signs of nervousness or homesickness, one great idea is to obtain a piece of their old wallpaper or paint and frame it so it’s ready to hang in their new bedroom.

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Tips for Moving House With Kids

1. View the property before moving day

Another way to get children excited about a property move is to take them to the new house before your moving date. If you can physically go in and look around this would be the better option. However, if this isn’t possible, simply taking them on a drive past the property can be helpful and make it feel more like an adventure. Children are creatures of habit so the idea of the unknown could make them nervous, so it’s a good idea to let them have a clear picture of what to expect.

If you’re moving with older children, it would still be good for them to see the new home and check out the local area. You could even visit nearby parks or trails so they know what kind of activities are available. They may even meet some of the local neighbourhood kids.

2. Pack in advance

One effect moving house can have on children is the feeling that they are out of control and so it’s important to keep them involved in the process and to be fully prepared. You can turn the packing process into a fun game by allowing them to use coloured stickers to pack and organise all of their things in advance. Let them know that they will be able to help with packing up their room and can personalise their boxes.

The earlier you start the process, the more time your children will have to get used to the idea of their new home and adventure.

3. Pack a moving bag just for them

When moving house with children, it’s advised that you put together a special bag or box just for them. These should contain their favourite items and whatever they’d like to carry with them from the old home to the new. These items do not get ‘packed’ or loaded onto the van. Ideally, it will include some of their favourite toys and games to ensure they’re completely entertained during the car ride.

This bag may also include their pyjamas, a blanket or pillow and perhaps even a keepsake from the old property such as a stone from the garden or a photo of them with their friends. For older children and teenagers, it will likely include a change of clothes, a phone or tablet and a charger.

4. Plan their new room with them

It’s a good idea to keep them talking about the new house and the move, focusing on all of the positives. Talking about their bedroom specifically is always a good way to make them feel like they have some say in what’s happening during the process.

Talk about what colour they would like the walls to be, what bedspread and curtains they want and where all their toys could go. Depending on the age of your children, you could consider having them map out their rooms with drawings, detailing where all their furniture is going to go.

5. Say goodbye together

Children quickly become attached to their surroundings. Familiarity is comforting to them so the idea of leaving their home behind can be upsetting. Depending on the age of your children during the move, it might be nice to allow them to say goodbye to the old home and mark the end of an era.

For a little closure, they could write a letter to the people moving in after you, including some fun memories they have that are connected to the property. This is a really lovely way to get your children reminiscing and can be a healthy form of saying goodbye.

During the days leading up to the house move, you could even help your children create a video diary of the old home. They can use your phone or tablet or perhaps they even have their own. You can walk around the property recording one another talking about your fondest memories. Not only will this help say goodbye, but it’ll be a little snapshot in time that you can keep forever.

6. Get creative with the moving boxes

The last few days before or even after your move can be a disruptive time. The rooms will look a little bare, there’ll be stickers everywhere, the furniture might not be fully reassembled and there will definitely be mountains of boxes. This can sometimes be unsettling, especially for children, so it’s vital that you keep the positivity and fun flowing.

Turn it into something that is exciting for them. For example, if you’re still unpacking their bedroom, pretend that, instead of sleeping on a mattress on the floor, you’re all camping. You could even think about tying a sheet up above the mattress to make a den. If you still have empty moving boxes, use them!

As Christmas has shown us time and time again, boxes are often seen as fun new toys by young children. Whilst everyone is trying to settle into the new home, you could build a fort, make a spaceship, whatever you and your children can think of! The sky’s the limit when it comes to using your imagination.

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How Long Does it Take for a Child to Adjust to a New Home?

On average, it can take a child about 3 to 6 months to completely adapt to a new situation, depending on their age and personality.

Adjusting to a new home isn’t an exact science and every child will deal with moving house differently. But the more prepared and involved they feel, the more quickly they can adapt.

Hiring a Reliable Removals Company

We hope this article has been useful to you and has provided some helpful tips to help you successfully move house with children. As part of the moving process, it’s important to hire an experienced and qualified removals team to help with the workload.

To save you both time and money, don't forget to compare removal quotes with Compare My Move. We can connect you with up to 6 verified removal companies in your local area, helping you save up to 70% on the cost of your removal.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Co-Founder and Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the co-founder and director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.