You’re elbow-deep in half-packed boxes and wads of bubble wrap. You’re fretting over the size of your brand new mortgage. And if your eardrums have to endure one more rrrrrip from the packing tape, you just might lose it.
Dreams of that second bathroom or the nice neighbourhood where the kids can play outside keep you going. The problem is, not every member of the family is always on board with what’s about to happen.
It goes without saying that moving house is a confusing, unsettling time for kids. This applies even more to our littlest ones, whose understanding of “home” is about to be rocked. Hard. Moving to a new house takes away that element of permanence that they were previously sure about. It’s no wonder they take a while to settle in!
While we can’t promise a seamless move with your littlies, we can offer a few tried-and-true tips to help ease the process.
1. Talk about the “new house” often
While your toddler may not understand the concept of a new house, bringing it up regularly and speaking positively about it will help shape their attitude. Try phrases like “You’ll have a lovely bedroom in the new house”, “There will be a lot more space to run in the new house”, and “Your next birthday will be at the new house, isn’t that exciting?” Head to the library and check out some books on moving house to help break down the concept.
2. Visit your new home and neighbourhood before the move
If possible, bring your kids to the final inspection so they can explore the house prior to moving. Find the local parks and take a walk around the streets once or twice. This will help familiarise your child with their new environment in a low-pressure setting.
3. Pack junior’s room last
You want to try and keep your child’s world as normal as possible up until the very last minute. Pack up their room too early, and risk making them feel misplaced and confused before the move has even happened.
4. Arrange child care on moving day
Turning your kid’s world upside down before their eyes won’t do you any favours; watching their home being picked apart piece-by-piece will likely be traumatic and confusing. Not to mention that moving with small children underfoot can be distracting and even dangerous. So do anything you possibly can to arrange alternative care on the day of the move.
5. Avoid other big changes
Now isn’t the time to introduce any big changes, such as a new “big boy” bed. Familiar is best in this transitional period. Likewise, if your child is ready for toilet-training but you’re close to moving day, wait until a month or so after the move before getting started.
6. Set up your child’s new room as a priority
Most family members can survive the first night in the new home with a freshly made bed and a clean towel, but young kids need more. Set up his room as fully as possible – unpack his toys and put them on the shelf, bring out familiar blankets and have them ready on the bed/cot. Make sure favourite books are ready for bedtime. While your child will obviously know that it’s not “their” room, the familiarity will help.
7. Consider a “house warming” present
A new toy, book or small piece of furniture (maybe a toddler couch) might be a fun distraction to help ease your child into their new environment.
8. Be patient at bedtime
That first night is going to be the hardest on your child. Be as patient as you possibly can (despite your own exhaustion!). Speak gently, give extra cuddles, and break some bedtime rules as a one-off (perhaps allow some screen time) to help them settle for the night. Try to mask your frustration as it may only add to their anxiety (though feel free to scream into a pillow once you’re out of earshot!)
9. Treat the move as a good thing
Moving house is a complex time. It’s exhausting, emotional, and may not always happen for positive reasons. Avoid letting your little ones catch onto any negative feelings surrounding the move, though. If they get a sense that you are unhappy, they may resist settling into the new place.
Moving house with young kids isn’t a cakewalk, but it can be done! Though the transition may be tough, rest assured that the whole family will begin to feel settled in time. In the meantime, there’s wine.
Don’t forget to plan for the clean-up of your old place! Check out our top 30 household stains (and how to remove them) before tackling that mess.