Are you getting ready to move house but wondering how on earth you can possibly pack, move and unpack an entire home of possessions with young kids running about?
It’s one of the most stressful life events, so anything that works against you is going to make things harder on the entire process.
We moved from a three-bed semi with a full loft and very cluttered garage with two kids aged one and three.
While it was very exciting to get inside and put our stamp on our new home, before all of that we had to move first!
We got through the move and are now in our brand new home, so I thought I would share my top tips for moving house when you have small children around!
1. Involve your toddler
Your toddler will be desperate to help as they watch lots of activity going on in the house.
Involving them will keep them occupied and keep the moaning and nagging to a minimum.
I got my eldest to pack up her books and toys (she didn’t quite do it right, but packing a box kept her busy for 10 minutes).
I also pulled out the sofas and got her to pick up all of the toys that had been kicked underneath.
If you want to have a clear out of the toys, you will need to decide if you will be able to ask your toddler to choose what toys get donated.
Some kids tend to be extremely attached to toys when they realise they might be taken away. If your toddler will not cope with having to decide to get rid of toys, do it when they are in bed or out of the house.
2. Have first night boxes
Ideally you would only have one box, but when you have children there’s a lot more stuff to fit in so you’re going to need at least two!
The first night box is for all of your essentials that you will need on the first night spent in your new home and in the morning.
This includes just enough plates and cutlery for you to eat a couple of meals.
The first night box should include:
For your kids you will want to pack:
Change of clothes
3. Declutter like crazy
Starting with the loft get to work on binning, donating or selling as much of your unwanted stuff as possible.
The loft is a good place to start because generally it’s the messiest and hardest room in the house to deal with.
Your children’s toy and book collection will also need to be looked at, as well as all of your things.
You could try the Marie Kondo approach to decluttering and organising your possessions (moving house is a good excuse to do it!).
In Marie’s KonMari method of decluttering, you go through the items in your home by category one at a time. You start with clothes, which you sort through in one swoop. This alone may take you an entire weekend!
Then you move on to books, then paper (for example receipts and old bank statements), next komono which is miscellaneous items from your kitchen and garage, then finally sentimental items.
You can read more about the KonMari Method here. It’s well worth a try.
4. Plan ahead
It’s never too early to start packing.
Even if the move is eight weeks away, you can make your life a lot easier by starting to organise things and even packing the odd box of things that you won’t need, such as winter clothes if it’s summer.
Start decluttering as soon as you put your house on the market. Even if you have to wait another year before you move, you will be so glad that you got it done.
5. Label everything
Get a floor plan of your new home and number the bedrooms. Make sure everyone who is helping you to move knows which room is which and label every box.
Get a permanent marker pen and write, clearly, on the top of the box what room, or room number, it is going in.
It’s also a good idea to write a few key words summarising what is in the box to make it easier to unpack at your new house.
6. Research moving companies
Do not go with the first quote you are given. You need to have several companies round before making a decision, because costs vary wildly between companies.
One firm quoted us more than £900, while another quote just over £500.
Some companies will charge extra for doing the actual packing for you. If you have young kids, this could save you a whole lot of stress. On the other hand, if you’re on a budget then this is something you can save on by just packing well ahead of time.
7. Get all your packing materials
You’ll need boxes, obviously, packing tape, marker pens, packing paper and bubblewrap.
8. Use plastic crates
Although cardboard boxes will hold the majority of things that you need to move, plastic boxes will be better and easier to carry when it comes to heavy items.
We’ve used plastic crates for wine and spirits as well as the mixer, which is really heavy and bulky.
9. Meal plan
Take stock of what is in your cupboards and freezer.
When you’re a couple of weeks away from moving day, plan your meals and stick to your plan to make sure you use up everything in the freezer.
10. Make a list of people to inform about your change of address
There will always be some that you forget (Amazon!) so start a list as early as possible and update it regularly.
Set a reminder in your phone for the week before you move telling you to start working through the list.
11. Organise a post redirect service
This isn’t very expensive and it can save you a lot of stress. It will remind you of any companies or organisations you have forgotten to inform of your move.
12. Pack by room
This will make life much easier when you unload from the lorry as you can take boxes straight to the correct room.
Try to keep similar items together, such as books, toiletries and toys, to make it easier to find things when you unpack.
13. Bag up clothes
Save time on folding your clothes that hang in the wardrobe by putting them into bin bags in groups of around 10 with the hangers popping out of the top. This will keep them clean during the move and means you can hang them straight up when you get to the new house.
14. Check the use by dates
Go through every kitchen cupboard and the fridge checking the use by dates on jars, cans and packets.
15. Book a food shop
Organise a grocery delivery for the day after your move. This saves you the stress of rushing out to the shops when you’re probably exhausted from the day before.
16. Designate one room for boxes
If you are moving into a big enough house, designate one room for the majority of boxes to keep other bedrooms clear for your first night.
17. Consider paying for packers
We haven’t this time around as we wanted to save the money. However depending on your circumstances you may want to consider doing this.
If you’ve just had a baby or are pregnant, you probably won’t want to bother with the stress of packing, and you likely won’t have the time either!
BONUS TIP 18. Get childcare
It will be so much easier to focus on clearing and cleaning the house if your children are elsewhere. Call in a favour with family or pay for childcare. Whatever you need to do, this will make your life so much easier.
It also means that you can get their bedroom ready for when they see the new house and keeping them away from the chaos will hopefully mean they are less unsettled by it all.