Some simple ideas to make the transition to a new family home as easy as possible.
I recently bought my first home which was incredibly exciting. But once the excitement wore off, all I could think was, "Oh no, now we have to move! With a toddler! While I'm pregnant!"
It was bound to be a challenge, but I had previously moved interstate with a newborn, so I had some experience on how to manage it. Obviously everyone has different challenges depending on how far away the move is, and the ages of your kids. A move a few streets away may not phase an older child, but having to start at a new school in an unknown suburb can. Or babies may find it hard to settle in a new house even if it is close to the old one, just because it's unfamiliar.
Here are my tips for moving house as easy as possible when you have kids, in all circumstances.
1. Start packing as soon as you can
Both times I moved, I started packing way ahead of time. I started with a Marie Kwondo style clean out where I focused on one room each week. I culled and donated a huge amount of belongings.
After getting rid of anything that did not spark joy, I packed up gradually over 2 months all the things that we could live without, including things my kids had outgrown or no longer played with. So when the big pack at the very end loomed, it wasn't as scary because so much packing was already done. I also used my parents garage for storage of these boxes until moving day (because I am cheeky like that).
2. Tick off these essential moving to do's
When we signed the contract for our house, our solicitor gave us an awesome list of things to remember to do when moving house. I found it really useful and it allowed me to be really prepared for the move. These tasks included:
Organising electricity, gas, insurance, internet, phone and pay TV to be turned off and reinstalled at the new address
Booking removalists, cleaners, pest control and locksmiths to do essential things in each property
Redirecting our mail and updating our address with places such as the AEC
Checking out the school catchment zone and new childcare options (if you are moving into a new neighbourhood) and taking your kids for an orientation ahead of time.
Child proofing for all the things in the new house such as staircases, sockets, etc.
3. Pack a Moving Bag
Part of packing boxes should also include packing a moving bag for yourself and your little ones. This is essentially an overnight bag with all the clothes, toiletries, toys and anything else you would normally bring on a weekend away. This will save you time rummaging through boxes once you've moved in.
4. Get the kids out of the way on moving day
If possible, get the kids out of the way on moving day. Trying to wrangle a toddler around moving men carrying heavy furniture can be a nightmare. Instead, trust someone to take your little ones for a day (or better yet a few days), so that you can get moved in and start unpacking without them underfoot.
5. Set up the kids rooms first
By setting up the kids rooms first, their transition to the new home is more comfortable and exciting, instead of being overwhelming. Nobody likes moving, least of all kids who thrive on routine.
For little kids, if you have their room set up when they return from being away, hopefully they'll feel "at home" more quickly. Older kids may want to be involved in arranging their rooms or decorating them a certain way, but by focusing on getting them done first before the kitchen or living room, they'll have a place to be, while you organise the rest of the house.
6. Be prepared for a period of adjustment
However you plan ahead, be prepared for things not to go completely smoothly. My toddler settled remarkably well into our new house and slept through after only a few nights. But a close friend who moved at the same time as us, experienced a few months where their toddler would cry whenever they got back to the new house after being out, or when driving past their old house.
Pets can have a hard time moving to a new house too, so be sure to make things comfortable for them as well. Everyone will settle in eventually!