If you think back to some of the most stressful experiences in your life, it’s likely that moving house will be among them. Years ago, when we moved our toddler and baby from one house to another, I can remember crumpling into an exhausted and emotional heap. We had international guests coming to stay a few days after we moved in, and Christmas was also looming. There was the old house to be cleaned and the new house to be set up, children to be settled, Christmas shopping to do and guests to entertain. One night, seeing my distress, my husband ordered me to bed, while he stayed up into the wee hours assembling furniture and unpacking boxes. Yep, moving house with kids can be stressful, yet it can be exciting and rewarding too.
There’s a lot you can do to ease the strain on the family, and to make the whole process run as smoothly as possible. We asked you, the Be a Fun Mum community for your tips, and you came up with some rippers! We hope these ideas help make your next move a family adventure, and not a misadventure!
Before you move
• Organise a family meeting and discuss the moving plans with your kids, if they are old enough to understand. Involve them in some of the decision making, where possible.
• Visit your new house or take a virtual tour online, to help familiarise them with their new home.
• Read books from the library about families that have moved house to help prepare them for the move.
• Research your new area, with your children, so you can all get excited about the new opportunities the move will bring.
• Tell your children stories about previous moves you’ve had, especially the funny and good points about those moves.
• Accept any and all offers of help! Try not to take on too much yourself and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help.
• Reassure your children about the change. If you are moving far away, consider having a “see you soon” party before you leave. Also communicate to your children that they will be able to keep in touch with their family and friends.
Packing and de-cluttering
• Moving house is a great opportunity to de-clutter and simplify. A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used something in the past twelve months, toss it.
• When de-cluttering, set up a box for goods to donate, a box for goods to sell, and a box for rubbish. If you think you will have a lot of rubbish, order a skip for the week or two before your move. Keep toys and clothes to a minimum.
• Let kids decorate and write on the packing boxes to show what’s in the boxes
• Hire a babysitter while you pack, or pack in the evening when the children are in bed. If you need to pack during the day, get the kids helping to pack the non-fragile items.
• Buy a special bag or box for each of your children and ask them to fill it with things they love, plus a few items for them to have during the actual move and settling in time (when most of their things are not accessible).
• Disassemble the beds and let them sleep on the mattresses for a week or so before the move.
• Leave their favourite toys out as long as possible and pack everything else.
• Use butchers paper to wrap items instead of newspaper to reduce the need for washing after unpacking.
• Have a box packed and labelled with essentials that you will need at the new house (bowls, cups, kettles etc).
• Pack a suitcase for the first week or so (like camping). Then you can slowly unpack.
• Do not move anything that is broken and that you “intend” to fix. Get rid of it.
• Pack each room independently and label the boxes clearly with the room and content inside.
• Do not move anything still in boxes from your last move (unless it’s contents are highly sentimental).
• Put packed boxes in a separate room with the door shut so kids are not tempted to unpack or climb boxes.
• Make a casserole before you move, freeze and enjoy on your first night.
• Pack a picnic basket with sandwiches and tea for when you all need a break. Having food and drinks readily available also help keep little ones occupied.
• Make sure the tools needed to put beds back together are handy. Always stick screws and bolts to bed frames in a zip lock bag.
• Have fresh sheets ready and put together the beds first thing so everyone has somewhere comfortable to sleep on the first night.
• Get the kids rooms set up as a priority and make them as homely as possible.
• Hiring a removalist WILL make things easier to move in one go. You can also ask removalists to put the furniture together when you arrive.
• Move house while the children are at school or day care so that they’re not underfoot. It is important to make sure the kids are occupied and not in danger.
• Aim for a week overlap to give you time to move in and clean the old house etc.
• Pay a cleaner to do the final clean, if possible.
In the new house
• Prioritise your set up – bedrooms and kitchen are a priority and then get the bathroom ready for use. The fridge and BBQ (for easy meals) are essential items to have ready in the new house.
• It’s not uncommon for children’s behaviour to change with the changes. Give it a little time.
• Save a few packing boxes for play.
• Don’t unpack the things you don’t actually need – prioritise unpacking.
• Keep the kids room as similar as possible to the old house and let them help set up and decorate their new rooms.
• Use a nightlight at the new place until they adjust to the change.
• Play a familiar CD so they cannot hear any unusual night time sounds.
• Make sure you have bread and milk and any other essentials ready.
• Let them unpack a special box when you get there.
• Put together a treasure map of the new garden and the new local area to explore.
• Try to stay calm so that your kids are not picking up on your anxiety. Make it an exciting family adventure.
Be a Fun Mum Editor, Kelly, has moved countless times with her children and you can read about her most recent move – an international sea change that has been a positive experience for her whole family.
Do you have any moving tips to add to this list? Leave a comment below!
Annabel PetersOctober 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm
Moving Day Tip: Go Through Your Stuff and Identify Unwanted Items. Moving is the perfect excuse to get rid of unwanted junk that’s collected in your home over the years. The rule of thumb is: If you haven’t used it in about a year and it doesn’t have any sentimental value, get rid of it. It can be hard to let things go, though, so you may need to go through each closet or storage space twice. On the first run, you’ll remove the obvious unwanted things, and on the second run you’ll remove the items you’re a little more attached to. You will feel relieved right after you do this, it’s guaranteed.
Natalie HopkinsOctober 30, 2015 at 1:32 am
Moving with children is very though experience. I moved with my family to our new house in another town and my kids definitely weren’t happy with the move. Now they are already used to the new environment but the beginning was hard. My advice is to spare the moving day to your kids and let them go to play with friends or stay at their grandmother. We used movers (http://removalcompanyputney.co.uk/), so we just waited for them… take the stuff and arranged the house before the kids came. Thanks for the post! 🙂
DeanNovember 21, 2015 at 5:01 am
Excellent suggestions. Me and my little ones are moving in a few weeks and I plan to put several of the tips into action. Thanks a ton for this great resource!
RG Quality Moving & Storage LLCNovember 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm
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Dee FrancisJanuary 20, 2016 at 10:33 am
I liked the point that you made about how hiring a team of movers can make moving to a new house easier. My original plan was to pack as much stuff in my friend’s truck, then go back for as many trips as I need to get everything into my new house. You’re right about how moving all of my things in one trip would be much less stressful. I have some furniture that’s pretty tricky to get in and out the door, so hiring a moving team will help make moving all of my furniture into my new house easier for me. Thanks for the tips!
Jennifer PetersFebruary 27, 2016 at 12:44 am
Your tips are really helpful. I am going to move house in May with my husband, our two kids and a dog. I feel that I need to start planning already because it will be very difficult to organize the whole process. The thing that I do now is to search tips and ideas how to make it easier. The fact that I have kids makes it a bit more difficult, off course. I like this post and I will definitely save it with the others I found. This infographic is very cute : http://visual.ly/5-things-not-do-when-moving-house.
Lillian SchaefferMarch 3, 2016 at 6:24 am
These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to visit your new house with your kids before moving. My husband is getting promoted at work, so we’re being relocated to a different branch. We have two young daughters, so we’ll definitely look into arranging a trip to visit our new house so they can get used to it before the actual moving day. Thanks for the great post!
FaylinnMarch 5, 2016 at 2:07 am
My husband and I are planning on moving to a new state next month. We have five kids and so we decided to save ourselves from some stress by hiring movers to help us out. However, I am really nervous about moving day and I really like your idea about packing a picnic basket. I think that I will pack one for a break and another one so that we can stop and eat while we are driving to our new home.
LloydJune 1, 2016 at 8:08 pm
Thank you for sharing this detailed article. Moving is really exhausting and frustrating so having the necessary preparations would definitely increases your productivity.
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RichSeptember 30, 2016 at 2:58 am
Good stuff Cath! We find that giving the children a few small but fun jobs during the move keeps them entertained and engaged. Keep up the good work!
Make Moving Home A Pleasant Experience: 4 Essential Tips You Need So It All Goes To Plan - MommyreviewerJanuary 11, 2017 at 1:03 am
[…] easy for the kids to get in the way when you are moving house. They might try to help with the boxes. But they can […]
John FerrellJanuary 19, 2017 at 9:51 am
I like the recommendation of involving your kids in the decision-making. When I first moved into my house my son wanted to know why he could participate in the decision-making. If I had known to involve him then I think that it might have been easier for him to move.
Kate HaydenFebruary 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm
I agree – it’s always best to go into it with a plan and to do as much ahead of time as you can.
We moved across country last year and the best advice I ever got was to designate a few “open first” boxes and label them by room – these are usually filled with the things you have to keep out until the last minute anyway and the things you absolutely want to unpack first so you can be functional in your new place as soon as possible.
For us that included the sheets and things for the bedroom, some of the kids favorite/must have items, basic dinnerware for the kitchen, etc.
Jess MorrisMarch 7, 2017 at 6:37 pm
Pieces of advice are good in general. Meanwhile, I have one more suggestion: pack favorite things of your children last. Treasured and sentimental items make you feel happy and at home, so keep those things out as long as possible for your kids.
However, no matter how many articles parents read, some of them can’t handle moving with their children. In this case the author of this post https://rentberry.com/blog/moving-in-out-checklist recommends to hire a babysitter and make all moving on your own. But it could be stressful for your kids. Thus, the decision is yours.
Myles GriffinMay 19, 2017 at 10:36 pm
I find it is really useful information on moving house with children. Thank you so much for sharing. I will suggest your posts to my friends. Hope more people will appreciate your posts.
SarahJune 6, 2017 at 6:25 pm
Hi – Nice article about moving home with children. I guess the key thing is to communicate with your children whatever their age, get them used to their new environment by visiting the new places and get them involved. I have experienced it myself recently with a 4 and 8 years old and managed to make this experience a nice experience for our family. I actually used a good article myself to help me http://www.cwraightremovals.co.uk/removals-kent-moving-home-children/
Ellie DavisSeptember 13, 2019 at 5:43 am
I liked that you mentioned you need to organize a family meeting to discuss your moving plans with your kids. My husband and I are moving to another city, and we are looking for advice to make moving a little bit less stressful for our family. I will make sure to get all the family together and come up with a plan to turn our moving into a success.
Elina BrooksApril 28, 2023 at 2:45 pm
Our house will be done by the end of May, so I need to find a residential moving company to hire for our relocation around that time soon. It was a helpful tip when you told us to consider decluttering while we pack for our move and consider donating items we haven’t used in the past twelve months. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for residential movers to book for our move soon.