Moving house tops the list of “most stressful life events” time and again. If you have a young family, the process of selling up and moving on can be even more challenging. But does it have to be?
This guide will provide you with helpful tips on how to make your move as straightforward and stress-free as possible.
Prepare Your Children for Change
Change can be unsettling and anxiety-inducing for many adults. For young children, the emotions caused by a loss of stability and continuity can be overwhelming. While you may be apprehensive about moving, you probably have a sense of understanding and control — you decided to move and you know what is going to happen, why and when. Imagine how upsetting it would be to suddenly be told the little piece of the world you call home is going to be taken away from you with no idea about what will come next?
If your children are toddler age or older, take the time to talk with them about what’s happening. Keep them updated on the progress of your move and be ready to respond to any questions and concerns as they arise. Making your children feel listened to and heard will build their trust in you and make them more resilient to change.
Young children live in the moment and struggle to grasp the concept of time. Three months may feel like a scarily short amount of time to you as a busy parent trying to organise a house move, but to your son or daughter, “three months” probably has little meaning. Try using stories and games to explore the idea of a new home, new friends and new routines. If you’re moving to a house nearby, take your child or children to look at their new home from the outside, visit the local park and walk through the town. All of this will make it less of a shock when moving day arrives. While preparing your children for the changes ahead is important, don’t forget to reassure them that some things will remain the same — they can bring their favourite toys with them, perhaps they can stay at the same nursery or school and of course, you’ll all still be together as a family. Children thrive on routine and familiarity.
Involve Your Children in the Move
Make your children feel part of the move by giving them tasks to do. Creating a sticker chart or using a whiteboard is a great way to make it fun for your little people to check off their jobs and make them feel in control of the changes happening around them. The tasks you choose will need to depend on their age, but even young children can help in small ways — pack their toys into a moving box, draw a “welcome home” card for the new owners, learn to write their new address or write their name on sticky labels to help with packing. Children often feel nervous or frustrated by a house move when the change feels out of their control. By including the whole family in the moving process, no one feels left out and it could even be fun!
Keep Your Routines for as Long as Possible
The “to-do” list when moving house can seem never-ending and it’s tempting to skip that swimming lesson and postpone the weekly play date to get things done. However, children need consistency and security so sticking to routines as long as possible is vital for a smooth transition. Missing some family activities may be unavoidable but try to keep things as close to “normal” right up to moving day. By quickly resuming these routines in your new home, you will be able to provide the continuity and predictability your children need to thrive and adapt.
Book Childcare for Moving Day
While it’s important to include your children in the build-up to moving, having them present on the day is likely to add to your stress and theirs. It’s a good idea to travel to your new home as a family and take a look around together before dropping your children off with relatives or a local childminder. This way, everyone feels part of the new adventure but you have most of the day to get moved in before collecting your child at teatime. Keeping children out of the way when the removals van arrives and furniture is being unloaded will also ensure their safety. Avoid unpacking and arranging your child’s room until they are home. Let them be part of the decision making when it comes to where their bed is positioned and where to put their favourite toys, for example.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress can be infectious — stressed parents often lead to stressed children. Take advantage of all the ways you can make the move less stressful for the adults in the household and the whole family will feel the benefits.
Consider splurging on a removals service that includes packing and unpacking your belongings as well as transporting them. This will add to your costs but it will also help you get the bulk of the move done in a day, leaving you free to focus on getting your children settled in their new home straight away.
Consider all the options for selling your house. Many people assume that the only way to sell a property is to engage the services of an estate agent, advertise their home on the open market, endure the inconvenience of endless viewings and wait months for the right buyer to come along. Selling via this “traditional route” leaves you vulnerable to property chain problems, delays and failed sales. The whole process can be very unsettling for young children with strangers frequently visiting the home and the uncertainty of when a move will take place. An alternative that will provide a guaranteed sale and put you in control of when you move — this could be in as little as seven days if this suits you! — is to sell your house online via a house buying company. The added bonus of selling online during the current pandemic is that it keeps you and your family safe — there is no need for anyone to enter your home as the entire process, from valuation to completion, can be managed remotely and viewings are not necessary.
Use a few days of annual leave to allow enough time for the move. Some companies offer employees one “moving day” so check with your HR department to see if you’re entitled to this. Many house sales complete on a Friday, which means you can take one day of leave and have three days to get moved in and settled. The more time you allow yourself to make the transition, the less stressful it will be for you and your family.
The prospect of moving house with a young family may seem daunting but with careful thought, planning and preparation, you can achieve a stress-free move. Take the time to involve your children in the process, opt for a hassle-free house sale process and give yourself the necessary time to move and settle into your new home. Take these steps and your family might even enjoy the adventure of moving house!