Moving house with children – the complete guide
Moving house is a major life event, and moving with children can sometimes pose some additional challenges. Children may feel anxious about leaving their existing home and making new friends, or perhaps starting a new school in a different area.
From telling them about the move and helping them to deal with change, to getting them engaged in the moving process, here’s our guide to the practical and emotional side of moving house with children.
Before the move
Sooner rather than later
It’s important to give your children a chance to adjust to the idea of moving, so you should tell them in good time.
At a time when you’re likely to be busy planning and making decisions, it can be all too easy to forget that, whatever their age, your children will have feelings about the move too. Part of the challenge for children is that they often don’t have a say in the wider decision-making process, and when the time comes to move house they can feel powerless and unsettled.
Moving house may also accompanied by other key lifestyle changes, such as a new job or a change in personal circumstances – so whatever your reason for moving, it’s important that they’re given the time and freedom to talk about it and to voice any worries they may have.
Be ready to answer questions
This is crucial, and will help to demystify the process and reduce any fear and anxiety.
It’s also helpful to outline the basics of what will be happening during the moving process, so they know what to expect. This can be particularly useful for younger children, at what can be a confusing time for them. Explain that their things will be packed up and moved out, and that the house will be empty – and that the removal men will move them on to your new house, where they can unpack them again and arrange them in their new room. (Sometimes smaller children think that once their things have been taken away, they will never see them again!)
As always, proper planning is vital. If you want to keep you and your family’s stress levels to a minimum, you should allow plenty of time for all aspects of the move, from sorting through and packing your things, to the plans for moving day itself. Put together clear schedules and checklists, to make sure you have everything covered.
It’s also important to make sure that you look after your own needs, and seek help with minding the children or packing the boxes when you need it. Remember, an experienced removals company, such as a Master Remover, will be able to offer expert assistance, including a full packing service should you require it!
Arrange any visits
If your child is changing schools, you should arrange to visit the new school ahead of the move, so your child can meet their classmates and familiarise themselves with the general layout of the building.
Moving during the school holidays can help with a smoother transition to the new school.
If possible, you should also take time out with your children to check out the local playground and other facilities like the cinema or leisure centre.
Get them involved
You can help your children to engage with the move by getting them involved – and not just when it comes to the box-packing!
Show your child a plan of their new home, and talk them through the various rooms. Encourage them to draw a picture of their own bedroom, and where they might put their furniture. If you can, let them have a say in choosing the colour or designing a theme for their room.
When it comes to the packing, you can get your children involved in the process, including putting some of their things into boxes, and maybe even doing some decluttering along the way – sometimes children enjoy choosing things to give away that they no longer need.
You can also let your children personalise their boxes – let them loose with some stickers, labels or felt tip pens, so they feel a sense of ownership and involvement.
Dealing with teenagers
Dealing with teenagers at this time may pose its own challenges. Although they may understand more about the moving process, and may have been involved in the viewing process, they are likely to also have their own concerns and opinions. Again, it’s important to make yourself available to talk when they want to, and answer any questions they may have.
Teenagers have their own friendship dynamics, and they might look to keep in touch with their close friends via social media or Skype. Above all, give them time and space to adjust to the change.
Say goodbye properly…
Even younger children have special attachments, and it’s important not to underestimate the impact that the idea of moving away from those relationships can have. They may feel as though they are leaving their entire life behind, with all its known and familiar things. It may be that this is the only house they have ever lived in, or the only one they remember living in.
That’s why it’s important to say goodbye properly. Think about holding a tea party or similar get-together for your child and their friends. You can also create a memory book, with pictures of the old house, and messages from their friends, which they can take with them to their new home. If possible, arrange a date for their old friends to visit them once you’re settled in.
… and live the adventure!
Remember, the idea of moving house can be stressful – but it’s also an adventure, and it’s important to treat it as such when you talk to the children. Aim to be open and honest, but reassuring, and talk positively about the good things relating to the move. And whenever possible, take some time out with your children, away from the planning and the boxes, and just go and do something fun.
During the move
On moving day itself, it can be helpful to ask a friend or family member to look after the children while you deal with the mechanics of moving. However, if your children are accompanying you on moving day there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the stress.
Keep them occupied
Moving day generally involves a certain amount of upheaval, and there may also be some periods of waiting around, without access to their normal toys or activities.
So it’s a good idea to have plenty of activities to keep your little ones busy while your things are loaded onto the van, such as colouring in books or a portable games device, and to find them a quiet corner to play in, away from the general hubbub. A playpen can be very useful for smaller children.
For older children and teenagers it’s worth making sure the Wifi connection in your new home is sorted before you move.
Make up a special box
To help you children to stay busy and as settled as possible, put together a box of their special belongings. This might include favourite toys, a comfort item such as a teddy bear or blanket, and a favourite book for settling them at bedtime. You could put the box together with your child as moving day approaches, and get them to label it ‘important things’.
When the time comes to leave, don’t forget to pack any special plates or cups, and take plenty of their favourite snacks along for the ride. If it’s going to be a long journey to your new home, take along some spotting games, DVDs or music for the car, and stop regularly so everyone can have a break and stretch their legs.
Give them a role
Older children may appreciate being given a checklist to complete, or being assigned a specific role – such as pet monitor. This will give them a sense of responsibility and help to make them feel that they have a part in the move. Depending on their age, children can also be put ‘in charge’ of making sure the removal men deliver their boxes to their new room, and beginning to unpack their things.
Following the move
Get them established
You should aim to get your child installed in their new room as soon as possible. Put them in with their ‘important things’ box so they can get used to playing in their new surroundings, and when things have calmed down a bit take them for a tour around the new house and the garden.
Time for a treat
Moving day is special, so now’s the time to forget about the diet and order their favourite takeaway – you can Google some numbers ahead of time.
Don’t change everything overnight
It’s always good to ring the changes, but you might want to avoid getting rid of everything that’s familiar in one go. While it may be a great time to stock up on new furniture and beds, keeping some of their old, familiar items may help your child to settle in more readily.
Make new friends
You should meet with your new neighbours and any local children as soon as possible, and take your child to the local park or to join a new club or activity – you can do some research ahead of the move.
Establish a routine
They may take a while to settle into their new surroundings, and this is natural. Remember that children are naturally resilient, and younger children in particular respond well to routine, so you should aim to establish a daily routine again as soon as possible.
As Master Removers, we have helped many families through the moving process over the years, and our reliable and professional team can help to ensure a smooth move for you and your family.