Shifting your entire life from one home to another is a huge undertaking, especially when you have toddlers, tantrums and non-stop energy balls to consider. I know what you’re thinking. How are you going to find time to arrange all the packing and moving logistics, get everything into boxes, transport it all, unpack it again AND still be a good parent in the process?
Don’t worry. It’s very possible. All it takes is a little preparation and organisation. Simply follow this survival guide of things not to forget!
Think of the children
- Is your child precious about their belongings? Will they get teary seeing things thrown out or boxed up? You need to be wary that acts like this can upset young ones, but that’s easy enough to navigate! (Scroll down to ‘After Dark’ for ideas).
- Keep your kid’s routines as unchanged as possible. It can be hard when their room becomes a pile of boxes, but bedtimes, school, meal times and extra curricular activities will be like warm blankets of comfort when their world is being boxed up around them.
- Get them involved! Let them help pack things up, wrap things in bubble wrap, and (if you think they can stomach it) decide which old clothes and toys are able to be given to charity. The more involved they are, the more exciting the whole process becomes.
Think of the pets
Pets are often overwhelmed by all the changes of moving too. It may be easier for everyone to board them during the few days of mayhem, particularly if you have pets that love going on their own little holiday anyway. Make sure you update any pet tags and microchips prior to the move and keep your pets crated, indoors or on a leash until you are sure they are used to the new place.
If you have a transport crate, it is a good idea to get your pet used to this as a safe ‘den’. Set it up with some towels or blankets and make it cosy and make a positive association by giving them treats in there. Once you move this can continue to be a nice safe den that smells like home. Cats will need to be kept indoors for at least 2-4 weeks after a change of address and will be much better if they are initially restricted to one room in the house. You can read more about moving with cats here.
Get organised early (4 to 6 weeks out)
- At least 6 weeks before your move, create a “moving folder”… or as soon as you start making any moving arrangements. Use it to store all the details of your movers, box rentals, receipts, as well as your plan of action of “things to do”. Keep a few blank pages in it and a pen so you can jot down any important things you need to remember, whenever and wherever they may spring to mind. (Eg. “Have I made sure the fridge will fit in its new space?”, “Who’s looking after the cat during the move?”. Really, anything and everything).
- Always be mindful to keep dangerous items (scissors, tools, sharps, and breakables) secure and out of a little arm’s reach at all times. (And remember, even sticky tape dispensers have serrated bits!) Packing is a time of additional perils, so be extra cautious.
- When packing, start with the rooms and items that get used the least. If you have bookshelves/an attic/ overcrowded garage/ fancy cabinets filled with fine china and unused ornaments… these are all good starting points. Chances are this stuff gets used less often anyway.
- Other things to do:
o Research and book a moving company.
o Make sure you’ve given your landlord notice of your moving date
o Set aside important documents (birth certificates, insurance papers, vaccination papers, passports) – you never know when you’ll need them! Keep them safe and together.
o Give kids plenty of warning! They’ll appreciate having time to adjust, come to terms with it, and say goodbye to their friends if required.
o Do some research on your new area – schools/shops/housing/sports clubs/fun activities – if anything stands out, tell the kids about it so they can start getting excited too.
o If the new home is far away, plan a moving day itinerary: print out a map and plan for some fun stops along the way.
o Hold a garage sale to get rid of stuff that is still of value, but that you do not wish to move with you. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so they say.
o Photograph important furniture and household items so you have a record if removalists damage them at all.
Closer to the big move
- Begin to tackle your kitchen. Set aside some pots and pans, enough plates to cater for your meals until the big move (or even go out and buy some plastic ones that can tide you over so you can get ahead with your packing).
- Make sure all boxes are clearly labeled with what room they belong in! This is very important. You want movers putting them in the right room so that you don’t have to lug everything about after they leave.
- Start packing children’s stuff up last… like literally one or two days before. They are going to want things like favourite DVDs, toys and clothes right up until the big move.
- To make boxing things up more fun, give your child stickers and textas to decorate their boxes of stuff – they’ll love it and it’s also then easier to locate where there stuff is upon arrival in your new home.
- Set aside a “kid’s moving survival kit” – stock with a favourite toy, a few books, maybe a colouring book and pencils, and also put in their pyjamas, a change of clothes and their bedding. This way they’ll have items to entertain them when the packing and moving all becomes too much… and you’ll be able to make their new room feel homey from the very first night’s sleep!
- Other things to do:
o Cancel memberships to clubs/programs in your local area that will no longer be used.
o Get a copy of your family’s medical history from your doctor so that you can hand it over when you find a new practitioner.
o Notify utility and service providers of your change of address (gas and water company etc).
o Update the address on your driver’s license (this can also be done very soon after the move).
o Closer to the move, stop buying so many groceries and cleaning products – you’ll want to try get creative and use up as much of your existing stock as possible.
- Some packing tasks are best left for when kids are tucked up in bed and dreaming sweetly. All handling of delicate items, for example.
- Once kids are asleep is also the time to chuck out any items they may have a hard time parting with – but will never think of again if not bought to their attention (their broken doll, threadbare two-sizes-too-small t-shirts and such). Be mindful though; you don’t want to start an argument when unpacking because you “misplaced” a favourite stuffed toy!
- When the big day rolls around – you may be feeling overwhelmed, but embrace it and know you’ve done the best you can to get things all in order.
- Have suitcases of clothes and toiletries packed in your own car (you won’t be able to source all of it easily straight out of the boxes on the first night).
- You’ll also want a box with you filled with small basic items: toilet paper, paper towels,
- If your kids are little, plan to have someone looking after them while the trucks are being loaded with stuff – as much as you love them, they can be a slight hindrance in this process.
- Make sure you have a well kitted out first aid box in your care… a general rule for all drivers, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded again!
So I’m sure that leaves you feeling utterly swamped with plenty of things to think about. But I’ve no doubt you’ll handle it just fine and come through it – kids and all – far better and happier than you could ever image.
Good luck and happy moving!
Many thanks to Marisa for this post. Marisa is the mother of 2 energetic children who love to hide random objects in her bed to find at the end of a long day. Intensely curious about the world, she has lived and travelled to most corners of the globe with her most recent Expat adventure taking place in Qatar in the Middle East where her youngest child was born. Marisa is an extremely curious person and spends much of her time learning about her favourite topics; health, fitness and saving the planet. As a lover of spontaneity, Marisa is always happy to embrace change and new experiences and enjoys living on the edge.