Moving with Kids: Stress, Mess and a New Address

Moving with Kids | Toilets aren't for Turtles

* This post is brought to you in collaboration with Hire a Mover

Moving house can be one of life’s most stressful events. It’s right up there with death and divorce in terms of emotional impact, and can be particularly overwhelming for kids. I’ve moved house over 20 times in my life and it is never easy. But moving with kids is definitely a whole new level of intense!

The last time we moved house we had a one-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old in tow. We’d been in our tiny villa for three years and were literally bursting out of the seams. The one-year-old Stuntman was newly walking and wobbling all over the place, and two-and-a-half-year-old Little Miss was an absolute bloody nightmare – into everything, unpacking boxes as fast as I could pack them, and generally being a pain in the bum. We arranged it so we’d have a week’s crossover between our old and new house so we weren’t in a mad panic to get everything finished in two days – but even still it was a super stressful period.

It looks like we’ll probably have to move again soon (the curse of the renter), so I thought I’d pull together a list of tips to make moving with kids a little easier.

Make a plan – and write it down

Yes WRITE IT DOWN! None of this ‘in your head’ business. You can’t wing it. You need to know who’s doing what, what’s going where, and when it’s all happening. If you’re like me and still have baby brain (despite having my last baby more than three years ago), you’ll be thankful for that plan when moving day comes and you can’t remember your last name (or where you put the bloody keys – D’OH!).

Moving with Kids

Pack everything

EVERYTHING. Every book, every cable, every single little kitchen item or piece of clothing needs to be packed properly. In a box. Sealed with tape. With the box’s contents written on it. Don’t chuck a load of random items in a washing basket and hope for the best. Pack with some thought about where that box will go at the other end – anything to make the unpacking part easier.

But get rid of the crap BEFORE you move

Don’t pack crap you don’t intend to keep. There is seriously no point dragging around a box of old computer cables that you haven’t opened for seven years (I’m looking at you husband). Have a big clear out before you start packing, and book a council pick up at your old address to get rid of all the junk. Moving is an opportunity for a new start, so carting a whole lot of useless rubbish with you to your new house completely defeats the purpose.

Have a ‘special’ box or bag of essentials

Pack anything that you know you’ll need on day one or two in a special box, and carry that in your own car rather than the moving truck. Things like medications, kids’ bottles, sippy cups, pj’s and sleepy toys, special jewellery, toiletries and phone chargers – things you don’t want to have to go hunting through boxes for at bedtime. I actually carried our coffee machine on the front seat of my car when we moved. Because priorities.

Also pack one set of fresh bed linen for each bed in a separate bag, and take that with you in the car too.

Moving with Kids

Hire professionals

Pre-kids we moved a few times with just a hired truck and a bunch of mates. It was hard work but kind of fun (probably because there was a fair amount of beer consumed along the way). These days? Not a chance. We hire professionals all the way. We’ve got too much bloody stuff to even think about doing it ourselves, plus we’re middle aged and very creaky now… a day of heavy lifting would see us both laid up on the sofa for a week afterwards. Professionals will also have insurance, so if anything gets broken or goes missing, you’re covered (as long as you opt for insurance cover).

Accept that it will suck

Moving house sucks. Moving house with kids sucks worse. As soon as you can accept that it’s going to be a hellish few days, the sooner you can get on with it, and get to the fun part. (I’m not sure what the fun part is yet… finding the wine glasses??).

Accept all offers of help

If someone offers to watch the kids for a couple of hours SAY YES. If someone offers to come and help you pack or unpack boxes SAY YES. If someone offers to be an extra pair of hands on moving day SAY YES. Sensing a theme? There is no point being a martyr on moving day. Accept ALL offers of help – just remember to return the favour when your generous friends and family are next moving.

Manage the kids’ emotions

Moving is stressful and crappy for adults, but for kids it can be a bit scary, especially if they’ve never moved before. Try and take them to visit the new place a couple of times before moving so they know where they’re going, and plan how you’ll decorate their bedrooms together. Talk about the benefits of the new place – is there a bigger backyard? Is it closer to a park? The beach? Talk up the new place so that they’re excited to get there.

Suss out the local takeaways

You will not feel like cooking after moving day, even if by some miracle you’ve managed to unpack the kitchen. Before you move, do a reccy of your new area to check out the local takeaways and pick up some menus. Or use one of the online home delivery services to find something local. Forget the table manners for the night and eat straight out of the plastic containers so you’re not having to dig through boxes to find crockery (plus no washing up – bonus).

Set up the bedrooms as soon as the beds arrive

In your moving plan, arrange for the movers to pack the beds last, so that they’re first off the truck and can go straight into the appropriate bedrooms. Then get started assembling everyone’s beds as your first priority so that you’ll all have somewhere to sleep at the end of the day. The kitchen and living areas will undoubtedly still be a complete shambles at the end of day one, but if you’ve all got a bed to sleep in it can make your new house actually feel like a home.

Moving with Kids

Do you have any tips to add for moving with kids?

Linking up with Kylie Purtell for #IBOT.




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    Its good to read more about you Dorothy, and how you cope with your Mental illness. I have never realised how you cope so well with your raising your sons, you are such an inspiration to Mothers all over the world….you have learnt how to handle living your life with the best possible outcome for each day, and your sons will be very proud of you xxx

  • Hey,
    First off, congratulations on this post. This is really awesome but that’s what you always crank out my friend. Great posts that we can sink our teeth into and really go to work.

  • Time to experience new life of your family with your new home. Congratulations and have fun adjusting!
    Brian Fleming recently posted…Advanced Curveball Training BonusMy Profile

  • I’m still getting over our move which was nearly a year ago now, you are right it sucks!! I agree that setting up the bedrooms so it feels like home for them is a top tip. Declutter, declutter and declutter some more is another thing I wished I’d done more of! Great tips here.
    Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers recently posted…Your Weekly Feed # 66My Profile

  • Moving with kids? Fortunately we haven’t, but those tips sound good. And good luck!
    Helen K recently posted…It’s time to talk about being too busyMy Profile

  • Good tips – moving with kids is shit house! All your tips are great. My daughter does not take moving well. I try to set her room up as fast as possible and make it beautiful for her so she feels at home as quickly as possible – then get to the rest of the house!
    Christine @ Adventure, Baby! recently posted…Best of Cape Town for Lovers of Nature and WildlifeMy Profile

  • Great post! Great tips. Moving is such a stress and I’ve been doing it all my life! Gives my the shivers just thinking about it….

  • All great tips! I’ve moved 10 times in 12 years or something ridiculous, including a few interstate moves and two with kids. The essentials box is – essential – and kids can get really funny about moving. Mine have both really worried about things that didn’t cross my mind (What will we do about the microwave? How will we get the plants on the plane?) because they had no experience of what was happening or were too little to remember the first time. We’re now talking about knocking our place over to build and that’s blowing my 4 year old’s mind. Good luck if moving is again in your future. It is hellish 🙁

  • we’ve moved a lot over the past few years and each time seems to get easier and easier, except the last, which involved a few temporary moves along the way, half stuff in storage, half in one place, some in another – and it all felt disjointed and ‘hard’ the whole time. better off with a clean short move for sure!

  • Moving with children is very stressful, especially when I am the sort who will forget where I packed that special toy or cup! And setting up the bed first is definitley a great idea. So at least you will have somewhere to sleep after the long day.
    Agent Spitback recently posted…The Impeachment of the Perfect Mother for Book Week FraudMy Profile

  • I don’t mind moving (weird). But having moved from TAS to Canberra (before kids), then Canberra to Sydney (with one kid) then within Sydney (with three kids, the youngest was three weeks old), the best tip I have is to pay someone to pack for you. Saves so much stress! Setting up the kids beds first is also crucial.
    Claire @ Life on Wallace recently posted…Twins make 7! Life really is like a box of chocolates…My Profile

  • The last time we moved, it was 6 years ago, and we had one toddler, and a small 2 bedroom unit’s worth of crap. We are looking at moving again in the near future, with three kids, a 4 bedroom house worth of crap, 2 cars, a camper trailer, a thousand bikes and outdoor items, and for some reason 2 trampolines. I just might need to bookmark this, for future reference.

  • Brilliant and valuable tips!!! Especially writing it all down; I, too, suffer baby brain with a 3 year old 😉 !!
    Anna Brophy recently posted…Yaba(daba)doo: Stress less party planningMy Profile

  • These are great tips whether you’re moving with or without kids. There’s definitely an art to moving, I just haven’t mastered it yet!
    Sammie@The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…Taking Stock – AugustMy Profile

  • Thankfully I’ve never had to move with kids. Sometimes I almost wish we could move so I wouldn’t have any excuse to put off organising stuff and clearing out crap. But alas, we won’t be going anywhere for a good long while so maybe I just have to stop making excuses and just clear that crap out!
    Kylie Purtell recently posted…5 things that annoy me {way more than they should!} | IBOTMy Profile

  • I have one tip; DON’T. If that’s not an option I have another tip: OUTSOURCE.

  • Yes to the stress of moving…but yes to this post and having it organised and taking advantage of whatever and whoever you can to We hadn’t moved for over 17 years when we left our Sydney house but as we were selling it and needed to de-clutter so much went before we moved. Our garage was box-city (packed!) and then before we moved, we added so many more. I hated the move from a one storey into a two storey (the first rental up here) and would not choose that option again if possible. We got out of that place (paid double rent just to do that) and into this most comfy rental now and used professionals all the way! Whilst I packed most of it, they brought wardrobe boxes and other boxes which helped. The other thing we did on that move was the get a professional end of lease clean and therefore we got our bond back! Our single mama DD is 45 and has just done her 25th house move with her older kids and one pre schooler. She hates moving now but financial circumstances make it so! Hey, look at us #ibotters..commenting on each others. Denyse #teamIBOT
    Denyse Whelan Blog recently posted…Do You Remember School Milk? 366/236.My Profile

  • Urrghhhh… moving with kids… Gawd I whizzed around the world so easily when I was young, free and single… but now…. We last moved eight years ago, just 20 minutes away from where we were and it nearly killed me with the four kids. Now we may have to move again, pack up our house to let it out and move into another one… this year, or next year, maybe… and there are so many computer cables and so on that need tidied up… OMG…. It’s huge… even though my kids could theoretically pack their own stuff.

    May The Mothering Force Be With You.
    Seana Smith recently posted…A Morning in Millthorpe, NSWMy Profile

  • We’ve moved far too many times to count. I hate it. But no doubt it will happen again (yay, renting!). We always do takeaway on the floor the first night!
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted…Teens, Photos & What They Need to KnowMy Profile

  • Oh yes. Moving is stressful. I’ve done it heaps and usually cope okay, with kids though it’s a whole new experience. We try to keep it exciting and get it over and done asap. Setting up the bedrooms immediately is the greatest tip.
    Jodi Gibson recently posted…How did you survive your teens?My Profile

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