Moving house can be a difficult and stressful time for children, even if you’re only moving round the corner. Making a long-distance move is a big change: your children will have to contend with changing schools, making new friends and leaving behind their old neighbourhood.
These big changes aren’t just a lot to cope with for children; they can be difficult for you too.
Luckily, we have a lot of tips to make a long-distance move go smoothly for you and your children, so the next chapter of your life can go as smoothly as possible!
The idea of moving house can be confusing for children. Very young children may have never lived anywhere else, and older children are likely to feel settled in their own space. It’s important to keep your kids in the loop when you’re deciding to make a long distance move; letting them know you’re considering moving house (even if you’ve already decided) will keep them from feeling left out and confused.
With very young children, try to find books or episodes of their favourite show that discuss moving house. The idea of moving house might not have ever occurred to your little one, but learning about it from their favourite cartoon character can help to soften the blow and get them excited about their new space.
Older children will appreciate you keeping them involved when it comes to deciding to relocate. Try to include them in discussions and value their feelings and opinions: after all, it’s going to be their home too. If they feel like they’re playing a part in choosing your new house – even though, of course, the decision is yours! – they’re more likely to get excited about the move.
Do a little research about the area you’ll be moving to. Chances are, your kids aren’t going to be too bothered about the academic standards at their new school – so look for local parks, playgrounds, activities, local clubs or groups that’ll catch your little one’s eye.
Allow your family a lot of time when it comes to packing up your home. This prevents packing becoming too overwhelming for your family, and can make moving day go a lot more smoothly if you’re sure everything is packed properly!
The packing process is a great time to go through your children’s’ toys, clothes and other belongings; donating anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t get played with, and organising the rest before it’s packed away.
You can make packing fun for the whole family. You could hide little treats such as sweets or stickers in each box so they’re excited to unpack them at the other end. Encourage slightly older children to decorate their packing boxes with felt pens, stickers or crayons to break up the process and prevent boredom.
Although it will add a little more time to the packing process, try to involve your kids at this time. Even if they’re too little to understand what’s happening, getting the whole family involved in starting your next chapter is a nice way to make some memories to take with you to your new home.
When it comes to moving long-distance with kids, you’ve got two options. You could choose to make the move at night time, when your little ones likely to sleep through the bulk of the journey; or travel during the day, and spread out your journey to prevent bored and cranky kids and stressed parents!
Let your removals company go on ahead while you and the kids stop off a couple of times to stretch your legs, have a meal together (even if you’re only enjoying a takeaway at a service station!) and get some fresh air.
Before you leave, have your kids pack a bag for the journey with a couple of snacks (which can be replenished along the way!), a bottle of water, some of their favourite toys and books, or a game console to keep them entertained. If they’re reluctant, try buying them a small treat, like their favourite sweets or a new game for their console for them to enjoy during the journey – but not before!
Now for the inevitable “are we there yet?”. By breaking up your journey, you’ll be able to discourage most of this: aim to stop for a break every three to four hours – even if you’re just stopping to find a public toilet. Find something fun to do at each stop – even if it’s just taking a silly picture together, getting an ice cream or another treat, or going for a short walk to break up your journey.
Even with the best removals service, there’s always a chance that some (or all!) of your furniture doesn’t arrive at your new home at the same time you do. Prepare your kids for this – and make a feature of it! Plan to enjoy your first night in your new house together, almost as if you’re camping. Put down some blankets and pillows, and play a film on your laptop, phone or tablet if you’ve not unpacked your TV yet!
Try to have a fixed idea of whose bedroom is whose before you arrive. This will prevent any fights about who gets the ‘big’ bedroom, or the one with the best view! Encourage older children to take their own boxes to their own room, and unpack at their pace. It can be overwhelming for them, so give them time to adjust.
Making a long-distance move with your children can seem like a daunting task. Keep in mind that you’re moving for a reason – whether it’s to accommodate for a growing family, to be able to start a new job or career, or to move nearer to extended family – and encourage your family to keep this in mind when things start to get stressful!
By following our advice, we’re sure that the next chapter of your lives will be a happy one.