Moving home, whether buying or renting, is a stressful time. Firm deadlines have to be met, many different companies to organize and talk to, and all of your possessions (what feels like your whole life) are wrapped up in boxes and put onto a van. When you add in the need to look after a family at the same time, it can feel like an impossible task. Every family is unique, and the ways you cope are individual, but below are a few ideas that might help to make the process a bit easier.
Before the Move
If you have children, make sure that you look around the area before the move. If it’s nearby, you could visit a local park and explore the local shops. If you’re traveling some distance and visiting in person isn’t an option, then be sure to examine it on Google Satellite and Street View – get a feel for the area and list all the things your kids want to explore in person.
Pets can be particularly disturbed when moving home; about a month in advance, try to set up a familiar area for them. For instance, a bed, toys, and perhaps even their moving crate. When you move, try to set up this area in exactly the same way in a room in the new place so that they have something familiar straight away.
First and foremost, get whatever help you can. This might be childcare or pet sitting, or it might be hiring a man with a van to help you move, including getting furniture to the right rooms on arrival.
Talking children through what you expect to happen on the day can be helpful too – it sometimes pre-empts lots of questions and can take away some of the concerns, which could easily lead to acting out.
Pack a bag with snacks and drinks for everyone (pets included). You will all need the energy, and you can’t be sure when you might get proper food. If you can, plan your first meal– whether that’s relying on takeout or you buy some ready meals for the evening.
It can be helpful for children to have a bag that they have helped pack. This could have pajamas and a change of clothes as well as entertainment for any waiting periods and their favorite toys. They should be able to take this bag straight to their room and have items they need to make it feel ‘theirs’. When packing, try to put a number 1 on a box that contains all the things you might need that first night – toilet roll, bed sheets, and so on.
Take the time to explore the local area as a family as soon as you can. Perhaps spend some time unpacking the next morning and then devote the afternoon to finding a local park, a nearby café, etc. Children and pets will have had very little attention on the actual moving day, which can be difficult no matter what their age is. Acknowledging that and devoting time to them the next day can help a lot.
Pets can take longer to settle than you might think. Set up comfortable areas for them, particularly places that they can retreat to and hide. Try to keep their schedule as close to normal as possible, as this can be as disruptive as moving locations.