*This is a collaborative post*
I promised you all this post a year ago when we moved for the first time, and here I am finally writing it after having moved again – better late than never though right?! Moving house is probably one of the most stressful experiences we put ourselves through, and doing it whilst managing young children can make it extra tough. If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you’ll know that both of my moves have been under incredibly stressful circumstances – the first move was during my miscarriage and the second saw us moving into a house that was essentially a building site while I nursed my broken heart. I’ve written a lot about the emotional stuff that went along with both of those moves, but today I wanted to share some practical tips to make moving (especially with kids) just a little less stressful.
Book a Moving Company – Seriously
Both times we moved I have started off totally adamant that we didn’t need to hire a moving company, and both times I have completely changed my mind and been so grateful that I did. At the time of our first move it felt like such an unnecessary expense when it was something we could do ourselves for free. That was when I realised that of course we couldn’t do it for free, because doing it alone would still incur costs like cardboard boxes and packing supplies, van hire and fuel for all the trips back and forth; never mind all the man hours, cups of tea and owed favours to our friends and family for the help. By the time you’ve totted it all up, the saving you make by doing it yourself is a lot smaller than I first thought.
Even though people kept telling me this I chose to ignore them, right up until everything went wrong for us. At this point I could barely bring myself to get up and take Dil to school, so packing up a whole house and moving it 25 miles (in the snow!) wasn’t going to happen, and Adam’s dad kindly offered to cover the cost. I opted for the full package meaning the movers came one day and packed everything up, then finished transporting it the next day. BEST THING WE EVER DID. Seriously. It took 2 trips in their ginormous van plus a few car loads (it would’ve taken more but professional movers are excellent at Tetris and jam it in tight), so I dread to think how many trips it would’ve taken us alone.
This time I was again completely adamant I couldn’t afford to hire them, but it was all just way too much to handle alone and I had to admit I needed the help. Again a two day move was planned so they could help pack, and when they arrived on day one I just cried with them for a little while (sorry Kevin!) because I was so relieved to not be on my own. They made the whole thing as stress free as it could’ve possibly been, baring in mind it was honestly the most stressful week of my entire life.
Bottom line: Book a moving company if it is at all possible. Just do it. Cut back elsewhere, ask family and friends to help with the cost in lieu of a Christmas present, do whatever you have to do because it really does make it 100 times easier. Get quotes from different companies, compare their packages (full package including packing vs just furniture removal is sometimes not that different in price), negotiate with them by agreeing to move some of the smaller stuff yourself. Find a decent mover who will make this a little easier for you – it’s worth the cost.
Keep communicating with your little ones
In the stress and hurry of moving it can be really easy to forget how daunting it all is for the kids too. I found that talking to Dil a lot, even if that meant explaining things over and over again, helped him cope with how unsettled it all was. Explaining how many more nights we had at the old house, where we would sleep that night, when our stuff would start to move to the new house. Talking lots about all the exciting parts – like getting a new bedroom that we could paint any colour he’d like! We were able to visit the new house a lot before we officially moved which made the transition a lot easier for him, and there was a swing in the back garden left by the previous tenants which also helped a lot!
By talking a lot and making time for them wherever possible you should be able to alleviate a lot of their worries, and they may confide in you about what they are most anxious about – it’s often not something you would’ve thought about yourself. We began moving near Valentine’s Day, and Dil was most concerned about whether or not Jack Valentine (Norfolk tradition) would know which house we were at. When it was time to leave the old house for the first time I wanted him to be really clear that this was it and we wouldn’t be coming back again, to avoid any upset later on. We both said goodbye to each room together and he helped me lock the door and then return the keys – I think this was a really important step for both of us.
This one is tricky for me because my organisational skills could be described as haphazard at the best of times, never mind during a house move, but it does make things a lot easier. Make a list of things you need to do/remember, and keep it with you at all times. It helped me to have a dedicated moving house note pad (any excuse for new stationery) where I kept my to do list as well as important phone numbers, meter readings and all that other boring stuff. Once the movers do arrive they will pack up everything that isn’t nailed down, so I kept the note pad in my car to keep it safe from getting boxed up.
Something else to help you stay on top of things and make it easier at the other end is labelling each box as it gets packed up. Label by room so who ever is moving you knows where things go without having to ask you every time, and label things that you might want to find straight away (TV remotes and DVD player for example, or underwear and clothes) to make them easier to find later on. Another important box to keep labelled and keep close to you is…
Your Box of Essentials
The best advice I was given when we moved was to keep a box of essentials within reach at all times. By essentials I mostly mean biscuits, tea bags, mugs and a kettle, but I also put in there my phone charger, a change of clothes, a few books, a few toys and some pyjamas for both of us, overnight bag type stuff (consider adding a bottle of wine and a takeaway menu too). The aim being that once you’re IN that night you don’t need to start searching for loads of stuff, because you’ve got enough in the box to get by until tomorrow. Movers/helpers/not-so-helpers will all expect hot drinks and something sweet in return for their presence, so it’s very helpful to keep them happy too.
I let Dil create his own little box of essentials, which had things like a DVD for our first night, some colouring and some snacks and drinks inside which he was able to help himself to whenever he needed which took some pressure off of me. I also made sure there was a little gift bag full of things to keep him busy as a surprise at the new house too – a new puzzle, activity book, surprise egg and some sweets – the usual stuff. It was nothing big or expensive but it was a nice surprise for him when we got there, and gave him something to do while we started to unload. Make sure it’s stuff they can do alone though, otherwise you’ll end up being pestered to play at a time when you really can’t stop.
Delegate wherever possible
Something that I was really forced to do this time because I physically wasn’t able to be in twenty places at once was to delegate tasks. Whether that meant asking someone to watch Dil for a little while so I could get stuff done, or asking someone else to be at the new house to meet the gas engineer, or leaving the movers unloading our stuff while I ran back to the old house – it helped me to ease the pressure on myself and to still get things done. I know that some people don’t have strong support networks and may struggle to find people they can delegate to – but wherever possible, find someone else to lean on. At the very least find some child care if you can – packing and ‘helping’ is fun to kids for about 5 minutes, until it’s not and they are bored and whinging. Send them to a grandparents or a friends, or at least put them out in the garden for a run around to get them out from under your feet.
Try to relax
I’m aware that it sounds ridiculous, but do try to relax and not stress too much during your house move. Yes it feels overwhelming, yes there’s a lot to do and it feels like it’ll never end – but it will all get done. You will get there, even when it feels like you won’t. If you do all that you can before the big moving day, you try to stay as organised as you can and you make sure the kids are taken care of, everything else absolutely will fall in to place and you will make it to the new house. Eventually you will flop onto the sofa, surrounded by boxes, nice cuppa in hand and you’ll think phew it’s over. Then you’ll realise that the only thing worse than packing up a whole house and moving all your belongings is unpacking it all again in your new home…