When we bought our first house in 2007, we were in our early twenties and engaged with very few commitments apart from each other and our cat.
Fast forward eight years and we were married and parents to an almost four-year-old and a 16-month-old meaning that moving was a whole new ball game.
Weeks of careful preparation and packing were hard to achieve alongside family life, work and all of the appointments and phone calls that accompany arranging a house move.
It was a time filled with excitement and anticipation as well as frustration and stress.
So here are my tips for making that house move that little bit easier when you have young children.
1. Ask for and accept help We are fortunate enough to have our families fairly locally meaning the children could have a sleepover at my mum and dad’s on the night we moved in. This took a huge amount of pressure off. We also had friends offer to look after the children in advance of the move. Although we didn’t need to take up their kind offers, it meant a lot to know that support was there should we have needed it.
2. Plan for plans to change We were buying a new build home, which was expected to be finished in October. That then slipped to November before edging into December. The moving date changed week by week, which was difficult to manage and to explain to the children. We just had to be honest and say that we would be moving as soon as we could.
3. Prepare the children Our daughter was too little to understand, but it was important to help our son to get ready for the move. As he loves books, we invested in the Topsy and Tim Move House and Usborne Moving House books to talk about the idea. We also took the children to see where we would be living to give them an idea of what to expect.
4. Get the children’s rooms ready first When we moved in, we prioritised getting the children’s bedrooms and toys set up first so they would have somewhere comfortable and familiar to sleep and play. This worked well.
5. Lower your unpacking expectations I would love to have had everything unpacked and arranged in a fortnight, but that wasn’t realistic. Unpacking is a slow process when you have young children. In the end, we focused on unpacking in order of priority to focus on getting the important stuff ready. And, one year on, there are still boxes to be unpacked sitting in the garage. They keep falling to the bottom of the to do list along with washing the curtains and sorting out the cupboard under the stairs.
6. Pay for packing if you can Yes, it’s a luxury. However, our moving date kept changing meaning that my husband couldn’t get the day off when the date was finalised. The actual date ended up falling in a week where my husband had sat accountancy exams three days before, I was in Edinburgh for work for two days and four days before our son’s birthday. It was also very close to Christmas. Paying for packing was a few hundred pounds, but worth every penny in a week where we were time-poor. I almost wept with gratitude as the professional packers boxed up our home in just a few hours.
7. Expect the unexpected Two days before we moved, our cat PJ, who we adored, died suddenly after becoming unwell. We had had him for more than nine years so we were upset to lose this member of our family. It felt all the more upsetting as he wasn’t there to see our new home. Life keeps going when you’re moving and sometimes rubbish things happen.
Have you moved house with young children? What are your tips? I would love to know.