The process of moving houses is difficult and turbulent at the best of times. It is a major life change requiring hard work and readjustment. Add a couple of children into the mix and the stress levels increase exponentially.
From the arduous packing and unpacking procedures to kids’ arguments over who gets which room, there are countless tasks involved in the ‘big move’ and even more worries about the whole thing. Here is our guide to moving house, kids in tow, with minimal chaos and stress.
On the hunt for a house
Once you have decided to move homes, the next step is overcoming the overwhelming choices of areas, suburbs and houses to pick the one that is right for you and your family. Before you hit the streets to scope out potential areas, start with Google and online housing forums to learn more about particular suburbs’ perks and quirks from its current residents. Land sales with a company like Stockland could also be a good place to start, introducing you to the breadth of options available.
It is important to involve your children in the house-hunting phase. After visiting properties, ask your children for their opinions on the homes and backyards to help them feel like they have some insight into the decision. After all, it could be their new home too. (Be sure to keep in mind that children have a well-documented penchant for backyards with pools, though.)
When the house is selected, spend some time before the big move getting to know the area by visiting local parks and shops to maximise familiarity. If you’re moving far away, take the kids for final visits to ‘farewell’ their favourite spots in the old neighbourhood.
The big clean out
Yes, this may or may not be the worst part of the entire moving process and/or your entire year. The spring clean on a giant scale, the entire aim of this phase is cutting down on removalist costs by disposing of as much unnecessary junk as possible. Given the mind-boggling amounts of trinkets and knick-knacks that children can accumulate each month – easier said than done, right?
Dedicated organisation and careful planning will go a long way to reducing the stress and exertion of the big clean-out. Get every member of the household involved (okay, pets and infants excepting) in sorting their possessions into piles of must-haves and rejects – and be firm on insisting that unnecessary rubbish is just that.
For maximum organisational prowess, equip household members with newspaper and sticky tape to instantly pre-pack their belongings, although you’ll probably need to check young children’s selections beforehand.
To pack and to unpack
When it comes to packing and unpacking, the humble inventory is your friend. Embrace it. Colour-coding each family member’s boxes can help assure young children that their toys are safe and sound in the new home, not to mention speeding up the unpacking process.
Other packing essentials include a family survival kit, including essential items: toiletries, a place setting and change of clothes for each person, a nappy bag for babies and any security blankets or toys children rely upon. Another idea is to pack all of the children’s favourite toys, games and books in one box to keep them preoccupied during the moving process while mums and dads are putting things away.
When all the boxes have made it to the new home, pause for a breather. Spending some time with the kids to help them settle should come before rushing through the unpacking.
A child’s decor
Room allocation, furniture arrangements and decoration: welcome to the all-important final phase that, if done well, has the potential to transform ‘the new house’ into your family home. Few decisions are more contentious than allocating bedrooms for a family with multiple children around the same age, particularly regarding the big question of which child gets the biggest room. Be sure to talk your children through this decision so they understand that it has been made fairly.
As for the furnishing and decorating decisions, enlist the kids’ help in choosing themes, colour schemes and furniture. Allowing them to have input into their new room should be an exciting prospect to help ease them into the transition (and, with some luck, could motivate them into keeping their rooms tidy).
For interior design inspiration, display homes in Victoria or your local state provide cutting-edge architecture and design ideas
Talk them through it
This one goes for every phase. As with any major upheaval, young children need to be talked through the process and what it means for them, to help them understand what’s going on and how they can adjust. Going through emergency procedures and plans of action in your new home in case of fire or natural disasters is also better done sooner rather than later.
Author bio: Sarah Trevor is a freelance writer from Sydney. The eldest child in a family with four kids, she knows a thing or two about the ups and downs of life with children.