Moving into a new home is both exciting and exhausting … it’s also considered one of the most stressful situations on the list of life’s big challenges.
Moving home with the entire family can quickly send the stress levels soaring with a multitude of personalities to manage through the change.
Planning and preparation are essential to ensure the intense days before, during and after the move run as smoothly as possible. Avoiding disruption will be difficult, but that doesn’t mean the relocation has to be chaotic. It can help to adopt a spirit of adventure and try to hang on to your sense of humour – just like parenting in general.
Talk openly about the move
Every child will react differently to leaving their familiar environment and moving to a new suburb, city or country. The bigger the move, the greater the disruption to their world is likely to be. A change of schools and saying goodbye to friends and extended family is a big deal at any age, so set aside time to talk about what’s happening and ask your children how they feel about it.
Older children may enjoy the search component of finding a new home, but for the younger ones, it can be best to wait until you have confirmed the ‘when and where’ before sharing news of a move. Talk about your new neighbourhood whenever the questions come up, drive by the new house and visit the school or look at images online and chat about the things you might do together. Focus on the positives such as a big, grassy backyard perfect for kicking a ball or practising cartwheels.
Involve the family
Children love to be involved in important projects so when preparing to move, provide each child with their own packing carton to fill with smaller personal items – a great task to keep them occupied when the grown-ups are busy unpacking and sorting out living spaces. Each child who is old enough can pack a small bag or backpack to keep their most precious things close by and safe. This might be a favourite toy or book, or a security item that gives them comfort. Older kids can treat moving day like a sleepover, packing the items they’d usually take if they were staying at a friend’s place – including their mobile phone and charger, a change of clothes and toiletries.
Babies and toddlers will have very specific needs on the day of the move, including maintaining their eating and sleeping habits. If possible, it’s best to keep them away from the removalists’ activity so ask a friend or relative to take them for the day. If that option is not available, consider hiring professional childcare to ensure they’re safe and their needs are looked after.
First night plans
To avoid the panic of ‘what’s for dinner?’ at the end of a long day, have a one-dish family meal such as lasagna already prepared that can be heated up and served with disposable plates, cutlery and serviettes. Keep drinks and healthy snacks on hand to dip into during the day. An esky is ideal for this until the refrigerator is ready for use.
Assuming the move has gone well, the main furniture items will be in place with a few hours of daylight left for unpacking.
Rule number one at this point is sorting out the bedrooms. Pack a separate box for bed linen and pillows, and as soon as the beds and mattresses are assembled, make them up. When you finally fall into bed at midnight you will be thankful you did.
One other consideration is the effect of moving house on the family pet. Organize to relocate them temporarily before the mad rush of leaving your old place, and bring them into the new home after you’ve set up and made sure it’s safe and secure. Having their favourite furry friend arrive ‘home’ can be just the tonic to help children make the adjustment from old to new.