Moving House with Children
If you’re moving house, you’ve probably got a whole checklist of things you need to do and organise (and if you don’t, this pre-made checklist might be just what you need). You’ve got things to pack, a big clean-out to do and roughly 100 other tasks to complete. Amongst all the busyness, it can be easy to overlook how the move might affect your children.
We spoke to Max and Ali Walsh who found out moving house with a toddler required a new kind of checklist. “I’ve moved house 14 times in my life, so I thought I was a pro – but moving with a two-year-old is a whole different ball game,” says Ali.
Here are some tips to make moving house with kids as smooth as possible for the whole family.
Share plans and pre-move excitement
If your children are old enough, talk to them about the move as much as possible, highlighting all the exciting things about the new house or the area. If you can, take them with you to final inspections and visit the neighbourhood before you move in. If your kids are school-age, try to make them feel involved in the process as much as possible. Take the stress out of changing schools by touring the new grounds and meeting teachers and classmates. Maybe your children would like to help prepare for the move itself by choosing items to decorate their new room, or packing their own boxes.
Organise babysitting for the move day
Whether you’ve decided to haul boxes yourself or call the removalists, loading and unloading furniture and boxes will be faster (and safer) without little people around. “We were lucky that my mum could look after our son,” says Max. “He had a great day eating ice-cream in the park with grandma while we dealt with the most stressful part of the day.”
Set up their room first
Try to have your child’s bed assembled and their favourite toys/books unpacked for the first night. It will help them feel ‘at home’ in what could otherwise be a scary new environment. “We slept on the floor the first night, but we made sure our son’s room was completely set up,” says Ali. “We had his bookcase ready with all his favourite books to read before bed and made sure his nightlight was plugged in.”
Here’s a list of things to keep on hand for the first night:
- Favourite toy/teddy/comforter
- Bedtime book
- Usual sleeping bag or blanket
- Pyjamas and toothbrush
- Black-out curtains or white-noise machine (if used previously)
If your kids are young, consider keeping curtains, rugs, soft furnishings or other items from the old house that will make the new room recognisable.
Expect the unexpected
Chances are, your child won’t easily go to sleep in their new room on the first night. Sticking to routine as much as possible should help, but be prepared for tears, tantrums and a few late nights – it might take a couple of weeks for your family to adjust to the new normal.
Extra tips for moving house with a toddler
Moving to a new house with a toddler poses unique challenges, but the process can run relatively smoothly if you’re prepared. Here’s a list of things to keep in mind:
- Toddlers are naturally curious: they want to touch, feel and play with everything they see. This can be dangerous during a move, when all sorts of objects are lying around. Make sure your toddler is closely supervised both before and after the actual move, when you are packing and unpacking.
- Moving house can affect a toddler’s sense of security: at this age, their mood is very influenced by their surroundings. Make your child feel safe in the new home by preparing a familiar meal, screening their favourite TV show or playing music they know.
Your toddler may react to the stress of the move by having tantrums or behaving badly. In normal situations, you might ignore this behaviour or discipline your child, but during a move your toddler will be feeling vulnerable, so it’s more effective to acknowledge how they’re feeling and comfort them.
Moving with pets? Read our tips here