Growing up, I moved house a lot. By sixteen, I’d lived in sixteen different houses in three different countries. So, not to get all braggy or anything, but I’m somewhat of a pro at this moving house business.
Back in January, we upped-sticks and left London for the leafy ‘burbs. I snapped into packing mode with military precision, my years of training from my mum instinctively coming back to me. I almost single-handedly packed our entire apartment in three days. (The Other Half did help in the evenings and Little Miss was incredibly helpful with customising the boxes as we went along.) I’m not going to lie, I was pretty pleased with myself.
But moving house with a toddler. That was new. Being an only child, there was never a ‘how to move house with tiny people’ chapter to my training. (To anyone who comments on this blog post saying, “but Amie, you’re a tiny person…” you’ve been warned, I suffer from tiny person rage.) That part, I was sort of making up as I went along…
1. Organise! Organise! Organise!
- Buy a notebook and write everything in it. If you keep everything in one place, you can’t go wrong. Write your master To Do list on the back page so you never lose it within the rest of the book; have a list of everywhere you need to change your address, a list of what you need for the new property, movers’ and cleaners’ quote… everything. Just don’t lose the notebook.
- Pack a suitcase with a change of clothes and essential toiletries for everyone, along with any precious toys for little ones. This way, you’re not frantically opening every box in the house at 12:30am looking for your contact lens solution or Snuggles the Bear. (I’d also recommend packing the kettle, toaster, tea bags and things like the bottle steriliser in a clearly marked box for the first morning too.)
- What about dinner? If you have older kids, just get a Domino’s. But if you’ve got a bottle fed baby or allergies to consider, take out isn’t so easy after all. For little ones, have some of their favourite foods in tupperwares ready to go for lunch and dinner on the first day or so. (Transport in a cool bag so if the fridge isn’t on when you arrive at the new house, you’ve got a few hours’ grace.) If that means they have hummus and pitta bread three times in two days, then so be it.
- And finally, hopefully an obvious one, but label your boxes and label them well. ‘Kitchen bits & bobs’ is no help to anyone.
2. Get the kids involved
- With younger children, take them on the journey with you. Explain what’s going on, that they’ll still get to see their friends (if relevant) and that the whole family is going to the new house, that no-one will get left behind. Use a picture book with a story about moving house or photos of the new house to help them make sense of this new concept.
- Again, with younger kids, explain what you’re doing as you pack up the house. While you probably just want to crack on and get the packing done, taking it a bit slower with the little one will pay dividends in the long run.
- If you’ve got older kids, let them be a part of the house hunting, joining in the decisions – which will be their room and where they want their furniture to go. Little things like this will help the move feel like an adventure rather than something to be upset by.
3. Get rid of the kids
- Exactly what it says on the tin. At the end of the day, kids make moving house ten times more stressful. If you move on a weekday and can get the bulk done while they’re at school or nursery that’s ideal. With younger ones especially, if you have the opportunity for them to stay at the Grandparents’ or a friend’s for a night, you’ll be able to get things done a lot more efficiently. With under 5s, you probably want to sort their room so it feels homely when they arrive, perhaps leave a few things for them to sort themselves. But if they’re 5+, leave their toys and books for them to decide where they go when they’re home from school, give them some ownership of their new space.
And finally – good luck