Moving to a new places is fun. I should know. I’ve done it a dozen times in my adult life. Moving to a different house in the same area lacks a lot of that excitement because, well, all that’s new is the place you’re moving to. Moving house with children however, is a whole new ball game. You’ve heard those jokes about tidying up with children being like making a smoothie with the blender open? Or brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo? Those apply to moving house with children too.
And add to that home schooling children and it’s like being caught in an episode of a really bad slap-stick comedy. I can just visualise it. Pack a box of toys, go make dinner, come back to those toys all over the living room floor. Repack the box of toys, sit down to check your emails, telling the kids to get ready for bed. Go to put them to bed and find that same box of toys all over their room!
Yeah, it’s not funny when you’re living it. So here are some things to consider doing if you’re moving house with children.
- Find somewhere else to stay
I’m not kidding. I grew up military and whenever we moved we’d have two weeks in a hotel on our exit destination and a week in a hotel near the new house. I thought it was a nice gesture from the army. As a parent I realise that it was the military’s way of keeping military wives from mutiny!
Find a hotel or a holiday park, spend four or five hours a day packing, then leave. Have somewhere comfortable to sleep, cook healthy food without having to think of what to pack and what to leave out. Get to your accommodation, have a swim, relax, get to bed early, start fresh the next day. It’s for your mental health!
- Get one room completely finished first
If you can’t stay somewhere else during your move, or if you still have children around while you’re packing this is especially important.
Get one room packed up and cleared out as your first priority. The temptation might be to get the biggest job done first, but by getting one room done you either have a place for the children to ‘be’ without being surrounded by boxes, or you have a place for all the boxes to go once they’re packed, making the room out of bounds. (We weren’t able to do this this time, and it showed in the constant unpacking and repacking of not-yet-sealed boxes.)
- Get all your laundry washed before you start packing
Trying to maintain a house hold while moving is painful. So before you start packing, get all your laundry washed, dried and packed away. Then pack as if you’re going on a two week holiday. Pack your holiday suitcases, and set them aside. Then pack all the other clohing into boxes or other suitcases. If you’re staying in your house you can unpack your ‘holiday’ clothes again, but the idea is that you only have what you have, and the rest is packed away already
- Prepare meals
Even if you’re not big on batch cooking or meal planning there are times in your life where doing so will leave you feeling grateful every single day. Having a new baby, after major surgery and moving house are three such times. In the weeks leading up to your move, make extra portions of meals, or plan a big batch cook and stock your freezer. That way you can pull out a lasagne or stew or soup every day, and just reheat it. If you can use tinfoil or other disposable (recyclable) containers, all the better. After a day of packing cooking healthy meals may not be high on your to do list, and eating out every day leaves you feeling unwell if you’re not used to it, and really drives up the costs around moving.
- Prepare a picnic basket
Like with your clothes, it’s really hard living in a house without a working kitchen – this is especially true if you’re used to cooking from scratch. It can really help if you pack a picnic or camping basket – put in enough plates, cups and cutlery, salt, pepper, oil, sauces that you regularly use and any essential cookware. Then pack up all the rest, and just use those. It’ll cut down on your dishwashing, and makes sure you still have the essentials. And if you do choose to go the outside accommodation route, you’ll be grateful to not have to buy new salt, tomato sauce etc since you have all you need in your picnic basket already.
- Arrange babysitters
This isn’t always possible, I know, but arranging at least a few hours a day where the kids are not at home is super helpful. It keeps everyone’s tempers in check, for sure. Whether ‘babysitters’ are school, day care, grandparents, or a selection of really generous friends, set up dates in advance, and take advantage of offers of help.
- Arrange moving helpers
If there’s a friend who can come and help you on moving day – assuming you’re not having professional movers do it – then say yes! Make sure there’s a pizza delivery and some cold drinks available to thank your helper, but seriously trying to manoeuvre a washing machine or bookshelf on your own? It’s no fun.
- Overestimate your boxes
Rather over estimate how many boxes you will need, and try to get them from Freecycle, local selling sites, or some supermarkets will happily give you excess boxes. The last few hours before your moving van arrives you’re bound to find a ton of ‘last minute’ things and you’ll be surprised how much space they take up. Rushing out the night before to buy expensive moving boxes is a money-drain and stress you really don’t need. Rather overestimate how many boxes you’ll need, than underestimate!
- Get your final meter readings
On your way out the door, snap a picture of your final meter readings and email them to the agent or landlord. In some cases they say they will come round and do it, but we’ve had an experience where there were almost two weeks between us moving out and the agents cancelling the utilities, which meant we paid for all the electricity and water and heating used by the decorators and renovators. Fortunately we were able to contest it – an amount near £50 – and only pay up to the day we left, as we had a record of the utilities the day we moved out.
Moving house is considered one of the most stressful things you can do for a very good reason. If it can’t be avoided at all you should have at least a month’s notice that it’s happening, in most cases, so use that time wisely, preparing as best you can to make sure that your move doesn’t leave you more out of pocket, needing to mend family relations, and desperate for a holiday.