13 April 2011

How to Move House with Small Children

We’ve moved home, to a smaller house. We’re still playing the sliding block game with Pickfords boxes.

I will fit everything in. I WILL!

The main thing is the boys are settling in well. Moving house can be daunting at any age, but some pre-schoolers simply don’t like change. In all the upheaval of de-cluttering and packing, the routines you’ve spent months putting in place can be messed around with or forgotten.

Here is the Baby Baby guide to moving house with small children. This is what worked for us.

Tell your children what is going to happen. Start gently a few weeks before the move and keep mentioning details of the move when you can. Reassure them that they will be taking all of their belongings with them. Answer their questions and be honest. They can take it. No, this isn’t the last time you’ll see grandma and grandad, but we won’t see them for a while. 

Let them say their goodbyes
They need some closure. An end before a new beginning. Give them time to say their farewells to the house, to the garden, to playgroup, to the local shop if they want to.

Let them pack a bag
Children like to copy you, so let them do their own bit of packing. Make sure they have their favourite teddies and toys in a small bag that travels with you in the car. When you move in they can unpack and will have something to play with straight away while you concentrate on getting that heavy sideboard in the right place while there are burly men around!

Get someone to have them on moving day(s)
Make it a holiday for them. Yes, you want them to be safely out of the way, but you don’t want them to feel pushed out. Presley and Cash’s grandparents took them to our (old) local wetland centre one day and let them dig in the dirt the next. I understand there may have been large quantities of chocolate consumed, but I’m turning a blind eye this time.

Take photographs
We were able to show Presley and Cash all of our worldly goods being loaded into an enormous removal van. They could see what was happening step by step, even though they weren’t there. This reassured them that all was going to plan.

Let them explore the new place
Stop what you’re doing and go round the house and garden with them. So, you unpack the casserole dishses tomorrow instead of today - so what? Ask what do they like about the new house? What don’t they like? What can you help them with? Try to make it as fun for them as you can – even if you feel in utter turmoil and the kettle has gone walkabout.

Do what you can to set up a few familiar areas in the new house as quickly as possible. Obviously their bedrooms are important, but also where you eat, where they wash, nappy changing and CBeebies will help them to settle in quickly.

Listen to them
Children may not always articulate their feelings, but we could see that three year old Presley wasn’t himself for a while. He became a little withdrawn and teary before the move. We did our best to comfort and reassure him, but it turned out that he was distraut that he wouldn’t see the flowers in our old garden again. On our first day a the new house we quickly found a pot and asked him what he would like to plant in there. He said potatoes, well, actually he said ‘patotoes’, but that’s neither here nor there. We changed his focus from the past to the future. Now he can’t wait to go to the garden centre.

Moving house is stressful, but it is also one of the most exciting things you can do. Moving house with children is an experience, but with a bit of forethought it needn't be a disastrous one.

Oh and if all else fails, offer chocolate buttons!





  1. Great post, Sandy with fab advice for people with little ones. Hope you all settle in soon x

  2. Hope you are getting settled! Some great advice too.

  3. You're such a lovely mum Sandy. Great tips for moving house too. xx

  4. Great advice. Hope that you are all settling in well xx

  5. Good advice. Especially packing their own bag with their favourite teddy. This made our daughter (aged 2) feel like she was taking part in the move rather than being moved and displaced against her will. So important to feel part of the process.

  6. Great advice. To which I would add: if you can possibly afford it, which if you can afford to move house you probably can as it's a tiny drop in the iceberg of how ridiculously expensive moving is, get the removers to pack for you too... I think it made a huge difference to the girls not living in a house of boxes for the six weeks it would have taken me to pack everything, not least because I was so much less stressed than I otherwise would have been.

    And, even if you get nothing else sorted before they come back from grandparents/friends/random strangers (because definitely get rid of them for as long as you can!) get their bedrooms and wherever they're going to play sorted. We've been here nearly a year and the only rooms that have no boxes in, still, are the girls' rooms and the playroom. Which is as it was four days after we bought the house...

    Really good luck settling in. Happy New Home!

  7. This is excellent advice Sandy, I honestly admire you guys for taking on such an endeavour with two little ones under your feet. But it just shows how kids (and parents! are adaptable to almost any situation.

    Congrats on your new home x

  8. fantastic advice - especially about the chocolate buttons - did make me chuckle!

  9. Chocolate buttons will put just about everything right!

  10. :)Nice to read something about advises especially if it's for parents that have little children. I adore your blog, it's simply worth reading. I was smiling all through out the article. A feel good writing. Thank you for breathing fresh air into the blogsphere.

  11. Great advice as moving with little ones really can be hard work. Its great to see a post offering advice for moving with young children. I found if you take them to the new house beforehand that also helps with the move. If you are moving some distance, make it a holiday for them to see the new surroundings as they may make friends in the new area and look forward to seeing them when they move, or like the new park that is close by.

    I found packing all the bulky furniture the hardest task as you need help to negotiate stairs.


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