How to Pack and Move House With Children

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This was written based on my personal experience moving house with children a few times. In fact, we’ve moved interstate twice. From Sydney to the Gold Coast, then the Gold Coast to Melbourne. Also because we rent and our needs have changed as our family has expanded and grown up, we have moved house several times since having children.

Though I feel like the below advice doesn’t just apply to “moving house with children”. I think it’s pretty broad and could work for anyone.

1 Month Before Moving Day

Approximately a month before, or even as soon as you have an inkling that you might be moving house, have a serious clean out of everything you own. Pull everything out of cupboards, shelves and drawers. Throw out anything that is rubbish and donate, gift or sell anything that you no longer want or need that still has value.

It’s good doing this well in advance for two reasons:

  1. Selling items takes time – if you list them on site like Ebay or Gumtree, you need to allow time for the item to be sold and collected, or possibly re-listed if it doesn’t sell for the first time around. If you have enough items to be worthwhile hosting a garage sale, that also takes some time to organise, advertise, and then somehow dispose of the unsold items.
  2. If you go through everything you own you’ll have a good idea of how much stuff you have to pack and move when the time comes. It can be incredible how much you can have stashed away into closets and cupboards that you wouldn’t have otherwise accounted for.

Also now is when you should start to think about how you plan to get boxes. You can get used boxes from shops or sometimes buy them from Gumtree or Ebay. It’s worth also putting a shout out on your own social media to your friends asking if anyone has any boxes as most people have moved at least once in their life so they might have some moving boxes stashed away somewhere.

Otherwise you can buy moving boxes new. We bought our boxes from Budget about 5 years ago and they’ve seen us through 4 moves (and my mum has moved with them once as well!) so it’s worth considering buying if you’re not planning to settle into your new home long term, and you have space to store them.

2 Weeks Before Moving Day

Start packing things you don’t use very often and you won’t need in the next 2 weeks. This may include but isn’t limited to:

  • Clothing from the opposite season
  • Camping gear
  • Baby item you have put aside for a possible future baby
  • Board games
  • Books
  • Spare blankets and linen.

I go through the pantry, freezer and fridge and write an inventory of the food we have left and then plan the next fortnight’s menu around using up that food, especially things that would need to be used or thrown out by move day (ie frozen meat).

Contact your electricity, water, gas phone and internet providers and advise them as to what day you’re moving out, and organise to have everything connected up in your name at the new address before you move in.

You may also need to organise a mail redirect for your new address, you can organise this in advance to start on your move date and continue for 3, 6 or 12 months.

1 Week Before Move Day

This is where you can start to get serious about packing!

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  • Start to pack the kitchen; at this point I’d pack away all my appliances that I don’t use regularly (slow cooking, sandwich press, rice cooker, electric beater etc). I also set aside 4 of all the cups, bowls, plates, cutlery and necessary utensils and pack up everything else. (I’ll pack up all the wine glasses but I leave out a couple of plastic wine glasses that can just get tossed in a box at the last minute.) Also if you don’t have newspaper or bubble wrap your glassware, I use tea towels to wrap them – it works really well and also means I’ve packed my tea towels! Just leave enough out to get through the rest of the week. I then put everything left in my kitchen into the one shelf or cupboard so I can start wiping down the inside of all the empty cupboards.
  • Pack your family a “toiletry bag” from the bathroom as though you were going away on a holiday for a week, and pack everything else in the bathroom in a box.
  • We leave all our clothes that are in drawers where they are, but any hanging clothes that you won’t be wearing over the next week can be packed now. I take them off the hook with the hanger in bunches of 5 or so and fold them in half to fit into a box and layer them inside – hangers and all. So aside from a few things that might need to be ironed, most of the clothes can be simply taken out and hung straight back up into their new wardrobe.
  • Get the kids to pick a bag or a small box of toys they would like to keep out for the next week, and box up everything else. I also let them choose 3-5 books each (I say “choose 3 books each” but I mean “you can have up to 5”)
  • Deconstruct any furniture that will need to come apart to move if you have room to store them. We generally sleep on mattresses on the floor for the week before we move, because our bed frames are pulled apart and in the garage. (Keep all the screws and bits and pieces in clearly labeled zip lock bags to make putting them back together at the other end easier.)
  • Start cleaning what you can while you’re still in the house – ie. Washing curtains/blinds, windows (especially taking off and cleaning fly screens.) Wiping out cupboards and wardrobes that are empty, ceiling fans. If you have emptied any rooms entirely start cleaning walls. I generally don’t go TOO intense cleaning a house while my children still live in it though…

3 Days Before Moving Day

  • Take all the food out of the pantry and put it in a small box to be kept on the bench that can be easily moved to the car/boot on move day – this is also where I keep my first aid kit until we move. And assess what food you have left in the fridge and freezer to ensure they get used up.
  • Go through the house, every cupboard, every room, and pick up anything else that hasn’t already been packed that you won’t need in the next 3 days. Anything you’re not sure about start a “essential bits and pieces” box, which remains somewhere easy to access and you don’t seal the top shut just in case you need to forage something out of it.


  • Pack the last of the kitchen (ie toaster, kettle, coffee machine, pots and pans etc) label this box VERY CLEARLY as it’s likely the first box you’ll want to be able to find at the other end.
  • Put any plates, bowls, cups cutlery that you still need for the next 24 hours in the box with the food from the pantry. I recommend getting takeaway or eating out the night before you leave so you can just entirely pack up everything in the kitchen aside from maybe a couple of breakfast bowls and cups.
  • Try not to panic.
  • Panic anyway.

Couple of other notes:

  • If you’re planning to get a professional cleaner it can be a good idea to get a fixed quote before the day – even if that means having the person come out to assess your home to give you an accurate fee, because the last thing anyone wants is an unexpectedly expensive bill when they’re moving. Also if they offer a “bond back guarantee” check what the conditions are – some cleaners only guarantee their work for 24/48 hours, so you may not even be able to get the agent in to assess the home until that period has ended. And be clear about what their end of lease clean does and doesn’t include – as they might charge extra for external window washing, curtains, oven cleaning, carpets, or walls.
  • If you’re planning to clean it yourself allow yourself plenty of time between the day you move out and the day you hand back the keys. I would recommend at least a week. As cleaning a property top to bottom, inside and out, can be really time consuming and exhausting.
  • Take care of yourself! It’s so easy to forget yourself in the process, but remember to eat well, drink plenty of water, get as much sleep as you can, and take time out when you need to. Breathe. Relax. Try not to stress.

Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. Rachel is obsessed prams, car seats, carriers and all things baby. She has worked in the baby industry for several years, for both suppliers and also in a retail setting and has developed a passion for connecting parents with the right products to make their lives easier. When Rachel isn't playing with prams she's enjoys crocheting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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