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Moving house with children is, to put it mildly, a challenge. Whether you are being overwhelmed on a daily basis by toddlers or being scorned on the regular by soon to be teenagers, kids are tough and parents who are about to disrupt their routines better watch out. Here at Compare My Move, we aim to get you through your move with as little emotional torment or meltdowns as humanly possible. Moving house is notoriously stressful but when you’re moving with kids, it is important to stay positive and to bring the fun. With that in mind, we have put together this tried and tested list of tips on how to move with kids, keeping it fun and exciting.
The best way to get the kids excited about the move is to take them on a little recce of the new place. If you can go in and look around then great, but at the very least, take them on a drive past their soon to be home. You can really turn this into a little adventure for your family, this can be anything from reassuring them of the improvements and the bonuses of the new home like a bigger garden, a chance to get a dog or their own room to decorate. You can really play it up like something that is just so exciting you can barely contain yourself. Of course, your over exaggerated eagerness may not work on the older ones so be sure to tone that down for them. It will be good for them to see the new home and check out the local area. Children are creatures of habit so the idea of the unknown could freak them out. It’s a good idea to let them have a clear picture of what to expect. You could take the children to nearby parks or trails so they know what kind of adventures are waiting for them and you never know, with a stroke of luck, they may meet some of the local neighbourhood kids.
Children quickly become attached to their surroundings. Familiarity is comforting to them so the idea of leaving their home behind can be upsetting. While talking to parents, we heard that saying goodbye to their home is important for children so it is good practice to do something to mark the end of the era and to remember the wonderful times they’ve had there. One parent has offered what we think is an ingenious tip. Help your children to create a video diary of the home you will soon be leaving. They can use your phone or tablet or they may have their own. You can walk around the home recording one another talking about your fondest memories in those rooms. Your children (and you) can keep this forever.
The next big pointer we can offer is nothing short of good old fashioned child labour. One of the effects of moving house on children is the feeling that they are utterly out of control so it’s important to keep them involved in the process. They now have the task of organising all their things ready for the move. You can make this into a fun game by allowing them to use coloured stickers to organise all of their things, they can be the ones to decide what will be going with them to the new house or what is going to charity….. On a side note here, a big tip from the High Council of Mum-dom is to do your own little clear out of their things while they’re at school. This way, you can avoid the devastation in the children when they’re told that the doll's head, the broken coat hanger, the cereal box toy and the lollipop stick have to go in the bin. Carnage by all accounts, so just keep that one in mind. Let them know that they will be able to help with packing up their room into boxes, they can write their names on the boxes and even decorate them if they’d like.
Sticking to the theme of control here, because let’s face it, our children are actually crazed tyrants who dominate our very existence so let’s not make them mad… It’s a good idea to keep them talking about the new house and about the move, focusing on positives. Their bedrooms are always a good way to make them feel like they have some say in what’s happening to them. Talk about what colour they would like the walls or what bedspread and curtains they would like. 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. The little control freaks will love that.
Depending on the age of your children, it might be nice as part of their closure at the old/current house to have them write a letter to the people moving in after you. Ask them to write a letter to leave behind for the new people wishing them good thoughts and telling them what a happy home it was for them. This is a really lovely way to get your children reminiscing and it’s also a healthy bit of therapy for them. It’s a good idea to also encourage them to write a small sentence in there about how they are looking forward to moving on to their new home too.
The last few days before your move can be a disruptive time, especially if you’re moving with a toddler. Their rooms are looking a little bare, there are stickers on their things, furniture has been taken apart and there are boxes everywhere. This can be unsettling so it is vital that you keep that positivity and fun flowing. Turn it into something that is exciting for them, tell them that sleeping on a mattress on the floor is just like camping. You could even think about tying a sheet up above the mattress to make a den. You may have some empty boxes left… Use them! Think about when babies are more interested in the boxes on Christmas Day. Boxes are fun to kids. Build a fort to play and sleep in, make a box spaceship and there is nothing quite as fun as sliding down the stairs on a flattened cardboard box (if done sensibly with adult supervision and plenty of cushioning of course). Just make your own fun, any way you can.
Everything you’ll read about moving house with children will advise you to put together a special bag or box for them. These are the things that they will carry with them from the old home to the new. These items do not get ‘packed’ or go on the van. You should probably talk about this in plenty of time so your child’s special things aren't packed away. Talk about what they would like to keep with them. It may be their pyjamas, a favourite toy, or two or three, a blanket or pillow and perhaps a keepsake from the old place like a stone from the garden. They could decorate this box or if it’s a bag, maybe it could be a new bag, especially for the big day. For older children and teens, it will likely be a change of clothes, a phone and a charger but they may still need reminding.
When it comes to loading your children’s things onto the van, let them know it’s going straight to the new house and will be there waiting for them because seeing all their stuff drive away can cause anxiety to put it politely, it could actually cause screaming, shivering murder so keep that communication with Lord and Master abundantly clear for your sake and his/hers. Lots of parents suggest asking 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. It means that the kids are relieved that their things made it there safe and when you’re a few hours into the unpack and wondering why you’re doing this, the little ones have their toys to keep them occupied. Moving day is also a great time to film the final day of the video diary giving the children another opportunity to properly say goodbye.
We hope that these simple tips will help make moving house with children positive and exciting so that they can have a nice soft landing. You and your family are on to the next chapter and we believe that moving doesn’t need to be so stressful. We have plenty of guides to get you through Moving Day smoothly so be sure to check those out and don’t forget to compare moving companies and save a few pennies where you can.