HOW TO MAKE MOVING HOUSE WITH CHILDREN ENJOYABLE
By Jo McCarthy
Few things in life are as stressful as moving house but throw kids into the mix and things get a whole lot harder.
Is it possible for everyone to remain cool, calm and nice to each other when you're throwing all your worldly goods into cardboard boxes?
Is there any way the kids can be a help and not a hindrance?
We asked some brilliant mums to share their best moving house tips to help you survive your next move.
BEFORE THE MOVE
Mum of two Lucy Wells has some fab expert tips for moving house. It all begins long before the moving van arrives: "My son was emotional and insecure about moving house, so it had to be a gradual process. It took me months of gentle persuasion. The kids came with us to view potential houses so that they could get used to the idea of moving house, and I showed them houses that were not so great so I could say 'we are definitely not moving here' which gave them confidence in our decisions and was an opportunity to show them I wasn't going to uproot their lives to somewhere they weren't happy with."
Talk openly about the new house
Jessica Taylor lives with her husband and daughter Tallulah and has moved home a whopping 23 times, three of those with Lulah. She says, "It’s always a good idea to involve the kids as soon as possible in the process so take them on the viewings, get them excited about the new place - where will their room be? Is there a garden? Lulah started talking about “the old house” and “the new house”, so the separation in her mind was clear. It may be that their new room will be decorated differently in the new place, so discuss possible design ideas, involving them and creating a feeling of excitement."
How to move schools when moving house
Besides the daunting task of securing a place in a new school, it's a good idea to take the transition process slowly if possible. Mum of three Carol Griffin suggests that the cold turkey approach should be avoided. "If possible, take the kids to their new school several times before they start there full-time. Depending on their ages, it could be that they are afraid of the new teachers, or not sure how to get home on their own. Slowly tackling these issues can help to raise their confidence in starting a new chapter."
If there are school events such as a summer fayre or a school play, be brave and go along to get to know the teachers and parents. Go together to buy the new school uniforms and try to talk positively about starting a new adventure. CBBC has a brilliant guide to starting a new school.
Plan to move on a weekday
Photographer and mum of three boys Jodie Chapman has just moved into a a mid-century modern bungalow ( follow the renovation progress @modernist_hideaway) - and knows a thing or two about moving with little ones in tow. Jodie recommends moving on a weekday when the kids are at school; communicate with the school that you are moving house and that you might be a little late for drop-off/pick-up. Better yet, ask a friend or family member to help for the day, or have the kids got to an after-school club if they don't usually.
PACKING AND ORGANISING
This is the part of moving house with a family that most people dread! The trick is to take your time and try to keep a balanced routine whilst you dismantle your home. The list of practical things to do when moving house can feel overwhelmingly long.
Write it all down - have you set up a mail redirection? Have you cancelled the newspaper delivery? Have you got the measurements for the new house, to ensure all your furniture will fit? Can someone help you do a deep clean and simple repairs before you leave?
Ask a friend to help you make this list if it feels too stressful. Moving tips from experienced mums include finding sturdy boxes at supermarkets, asking friends if they can stock up on packing materials for your move, using your towels, clothes and bedding to wrap fragile items and using tape sparingly so that unpacking doesn't take too long.
Other suggestions include:
Maddy Marx (@abohemian) has moved five times in the last nine years, with three of the moves being made in the last four years! She has some fantastic tips for moving house: "While moving is extremely stressful, it is also the perfect time to Marie Kondo all your belongings, so that when you get to the new place, every item you have is like an old friend welcoming you home. Now that we are in our sixth house, this is the one I adore the most because everywhere I turn there is a dear old friend who has wonderful stories to tell of our memories shared."
Emma has moved countries six times with her family and says sometimes the best way to get organised is to have a clear-out: "Only pack what is beautiful, useful or brings you joy. Don't be tempted to chuck it all in a box labelled 'Stuff'! Take the opportunity to select, purge and edit. It takes a lot longer before your move, but it makes everything better on the moving day and at the new home."
Jodie plans in detail before the move to stay calm on the big day: "I keep my sanity by planning methodically and labelling boxes with the item contents and the room they are going into - we've found this to be very helpful when other people are moving the boxes for you, as they can put them in the correct room."
Get the kids to help
Giving the children some responsibility, based on their age and ability, is how mum of two Lucy survives her house moves: "They love having their own boxes of stuff to be in charge of. Label them really, really well - it saves so much time locating things at the other end. Another tip when moving home with a family is to get out of the house when everyone has had enough - it's time well-spent to clear the mind ready for the next round."
Only pack what you need to
Does everything need to be boxed away? Can you save time by not folding all your clothes? Emma keeps the family's clothes on their hangers and uses a zip-tie to hold the hangers together, then wraps the clothes in a bin liner and simply hangs them up at the new place.
Read this for a do-able guide on how to live in a clutter free home, even when you have kids.
ON THE DAY
Leaving useful information for the new occupants of your old home is always a nice idea. I like to leave information about the recycling arrangements, the bin collection days, any quirky things to look out for around the house and if the new owners/ tenants are moving in immediately, I leave a simple bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine.
Unpack the children's things first
To settle the children quickly, Jodie suggests: "Pack a box of essentials from the children's room including any cuddly toys and items that are especially important to them. Unpack it in their new room before they get there so it feels like their space when they walk in. Put fresh bedding on the beds the night before you move so that you can transport duvets (in bin bags) and immediately make up their beds. Remember to pack a bag of clothes for the first night and morning so that you are not scrambling about in suitcases trying to find clean pants!"
Jessica agrees: "Make the children's room the last to be packed (so they are not distressed early in the process, and things are left as normal as possible for as long as possible) and most importantly, the first to be unpacked and arranged. Don't just arrange their bed but, if you can, tackle everything - bookshelves loaded and toys out. For them to settle as early as possible you want their room looking as normal as possible so there is a familiarity from the first night. With this rule we have successfully moved Lulah three times and she has always slept well straight away and had a real excited attitude to moving house."
Keep the essentials to hand
Jodie also recommends having a box that travels in the car with you which contains things like phone chargers, the kettle, tea bags, kitchen towels, biscuits, extension leads and pens and paper. The vacuum cleaner should also go with you - you don't want that to get stuck at the back of the moving van.
Order a takeaway
Lucy's most important tip - keep the takeaway menus handy! Make time to sit with the kids and enjoy a family night together after a long day of moving.
MAKING THE NEW HOUSE A HOME
Journalist and blogger Helen Perry from Not About The Kids moved when her daughter Francesca was 7 and son Henry was 5. Although the move was only around the corner, Helen hadn't anticipated how disruptive the move felt for the children.
"Matt and I were obviously very excited to have more space (and a downstairs toilet!), but children are not really interested in such things and both of them felt really sad about leaving their home and bedrooms. My daughter found it particularly difficult to adjust and for several weeks refused to be left on her own anywhere in the new house! They are fine now but it was a good reminder that children don't necessarily share your priorities. They still talk very fondly about our little old house! To try to help them settle, we decorated their rooms first and got them really involved in choosing furniture and colour schemes. We made sure that their favourite items were to hand, rather than buried at the bottom of a big box."
Remember the good times, and start to create new memories
Maddy has a creative idea for making her house moves happy occasions: "I take photos of each house that we have lived in and the special places that mean something to us. We compile them as keepsakes and still browse the albums regularly. In fact we recently went to the Open House of the first house we renovated and it was great to see this old friend again."
Make it cosy
Rosie has moved a number of times and has found that lighting her favourite candles as soon as she moves in is a great way to get the new place feeling like home.
Tell your friends and family that you have moved
These days we make huge announcements via Twitter and Instagram, but taking the time to send a new address card to your friends and family can help you to get excited about your new place. You could commission an illustrator to draw your new home and create beautiful cards to send (I adore the bespoke illustrations of Aimee Willow Designs) and include details about where to park when friends visit, how to reach you by public transport and some interesting facts about your new area. You'll soon have a queue of visitors lining up!
How did you survive moving house with children?