Moving with kids is hard work and can be emotionally draining and stressful, but it helps to be organised and prepared. We’re in the process of moving interstate for the second time in 3 years, and the third time we’ve moved since having children, so I thought I’d share what we’ve learned and what has worked for us when moving with kids.
Be honest and upfront
Talk to your kids about the move, with as much time to get used to the idea as possible, present the idea to them in terms they’ll understand. Talk to them about why you’re moving, focusing on what you’re going to have or do when you arrive at the new destination. If you’re moving to be closer to family, or a bigger home, or to buy your own home, or for more job opportunities. If possible take them to our new home before you actually move in, go for a walk around the neighbourhood to become familiar with the area to reduce the fear of the unknown. If you’re moving too far – like we are – that you aren’t able to physically take them to the new house, try showing them pictures online, even play around with Google maps “street view” and take a virtual tour of your new neighbourhood, school, playgrounds etc. so they can start to feel familiar with the area and get excited about the move.
Get kids involved
Where possible, getting children involved in the moving process keeps them occupied and may help them feel in control. For example: give them empty spray bottles, and wash cloths to “help” clean walls and windows. Or for children old enough to understand get them to help pack their own belongings, or sort out what they might want to keep or give away prior to the move.
Reduce and de-clutter
The less you take with you, the less you need to pack and less you need to unpack at the other end. Now is the time to be ruthless when it comes to what to keep and what to give away, sell, or discard. A good place to start is clothes, what haven’t you worn in the last year? Anything that doesn’t fit, or is worn out, it’s a good time to start fresh. Empty out cupboards, drawers anywhere else you might have been storing things and be honest about whether or not you really need those things, if they still have value – sell them, give them away or donate to charity.
Doing this sooner rather than later also gives you more time to organise selling items of value and less of a rush at the end when it comes to actually packing your life into boxes.
Keep precious things close
It can be helpful to have a special bag which they take with them in the car, truck or plane, which contains special toys, treasured items, or favourite outfits, so they know where they are at all times, and won’t be lost in the move – and you won’t be left pulling apart boxes to try to find them when you arrive at your new home! We also pack useful items, like a couple of plates, bowls, cutlery, a pot and pan, kettle and toaster in one box which can be opened at the other end for immediate use.
There are many different ways to label boxes for easier unpacking at the other end. You can use coloured dots to indicate what room they’re going into, or simply write on the box what room they’re for and the contents inside them. We have used a system of numbering each box, and then having a list of the contents saved on our smart phones to make it easier to work out where individual items are when we arrive at the new house. Ideally have a system that works for you, because getting to the other end and opening boxes one by one with no idea what they contain is exhausting and time consuming.
Moving house is one of the most stressful life events, especially so if you have children as they will feed off your stress and you will feed off their stress and it all becomes a big stress-mess! On the plus side, if you’re excited – they’re more likely to be excited about the move, try to be aware of your emotional state and take “time outs” from moving where you go for a walk or a drive and just get away from it all for a moment, even just 10 minute lap of the block can help clear your head. Keep communication open between yourself and your partner and remember moving will be behind you soon.
Moving house can be often very expensive, there’s so many costs involved. Write down all your expenses, over-estimate them avoid nasty shocks, and ensure you have a comfortable buffer in case anything unexpected arises. Whether you’re selling and buying, or moving from one rental to another, there can be big costs associated with properties changing hands. Other costs include – cleaning (paying a cleaner or stocking up on cleaning supplies), paying for repairs and maintenance (if you’re renting, it’s wise to not budget on your bond being returned in a timely manner, as this can take some time), cancelling internet and phone plans if they’re unable to be transferred to your new address, final payments on electricity, water, gas etc. Also if you’re moving interstate re-registering your vehicle, also petrol, or relocation fees for moving your car. Then moving your belongings is a big expense with moving home, but there are a variety of options to suit different budgets and needs:
Pack and drive the truck yourself
On a full driver’s license you can hire and drive a 3 tonne truck, which isn’t a lot of space for a family home, for this option you will likely need to reduce down the volume of stuff you are taking with you, as we discovered when we moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast ourselves, and not everything made it onto the truck, and we had to leave many things behind.
You pack – someone else drives
You hire a storage container to be dropped off at your current home, they’ll leave it with you for an arranged period of time for you to pack it, and then they return, pick it up, and deliver it to your new address. A bonus of doing this is that the companies that provide this service will often also be able to store your belongings on a weekly or monthly basis – for a fee- which is helpful if you’re move out date and move in date don’t match up. (This is how we’re moving, currently all our stuff right now is in a container in storage yard awaiting our phone call to have it put on a truck and train and transported to Melbourne!)
This can be a less expensive way to move if you’re only moving a few larger items, and maybe driving to your new destination, so can take a clothes and smaller items in the boot or a small trailer. Your furniture is loaded on with another load, to ‘top up’ the truck; it’s often quite a lot cheaper to move a few pieces furniture this way because the truck was
Get the removalists in!
Professional removalists can do the whole lot for you, including packing your items, or proving boxes and packing materials for you to pack yourself, they’ll load the truck, drive your stuff, unpack the truck, some services might even set your home up completely ready for your arrival – removalists can also put you in contact with cleaners and other moving related services, to make your move as smooth and hassle free.
Whatever you choose, whatever the reasons, wherever you are and wherever you are going, just remember to breath and focus and this too shall pass.
What advice would you give to families moving house?