Today we welcome another lovely friend of mine, Catherine Sangster to Planning With Kids. Catherine has three beautiful girls, two at school and the youngest who has just turned one. I have known Catherine since before I had children and she is an incredibly articulate woman, with a Masters in Communication and she is now also a qualified primary teacher. Study that she managed to complete while having kids, which I think is amazing! When our combined busy schedules allow it we love to get our families together over some yum cha. Thanks for sharing your practical and incredibly helpful tips Catherine.
Now, I don’t profess to being in anyway as organised as our beloved Planning Queen, however having moved house 5 times since having the first of our 3 children 8 years ago I can lay claim to being a bit of a ‘moving with kids’ expert. That’s not to say I don’t make a hundred mistakes each time, but hopefully I can set out a few hints for you here so you don’t repeat some of my more major ones! So listed below (in no particular order) are my top 10 moving house mistakes:
#1 Auction Day Mistake
If you send your children away with a friend during your auction, remember to explain to them that just because the house sells, you will still be there when they get back. You promise not to move out while they are away!
#2 Disappearing Toys Mistake
Moving house is a wonderful opportunity to go through and cull the mountains of toys they seem to accumulate – but start about a month before the move so they get used to not seeing those toys (just tell them you’ve started packing already). By the time you move they will have (hopefully) forgotten about any of them and won’t associate ‘losing’ their toys with the move.
#3 What if? Mistake
My eldest is a world champion ‘what if’er (What if they forget to bring our beds? What if we leave our toys behind? What if we lose all our underwear? What if you can’t find the boxes with the food in it?). I’ve learned from bitter experience, that no matter how old they get it is helpful to take them around the house room by room and point to practically everything you think might worry them (and invite their comments) and say something reassuring like ‘we are taking everything with us, even the bed linen, even the plates and cups, even the toys…nothing will be left behind…everything you can see will come to the new house’.
#4 Breakables and Babies Mistake
I don’t know how you pack boxes, but I like to lay everything for a box on the ground first and then start wrapping. Don’t, I repeat, don’t try to do this during baby’s waking hours – it will only ever end in tears.
#5 Unsealed Box Mistake
Make sure you seal all boxes containing their toys, books, clothes etc as soon as you have packed – don’t think you can just add to it later or you will inevitably find each box meticulously unpacked, rearranged and redistributed to suit the game they were playing at that moment.
#6 Idle Hands Mistake
This one goes hand in hand with #5. Bored children can get into all sorts of mischief, from sealing each other up in empty boxes (can be fun but…) to unpacking every toy, to packing every toilet paper roll in the house. I’ve found giving them each one of the jumbo packing boxes and telling them to pack all their ‘important’ things is a great way of not only giving them a job but it also gives them the security of knowing they have packed things that are concerning them eg favourite toy, underpants etc (very funny to see what they deem important).
#7 Checklist Mistake
I’m a big one for making endless checklists. I like to work systematically through a list point by point and I love the feeling of putting a little tick in the box beside each one. Once you have children involved in a move this will never happen again. Be flexible. If you are only two boxes into the kitchen packing and little one is chucking herself about screaming, don’t persevere – just move onto another room and come back to that job later. It’s not as satisfying as finishing one job well and then moving onto the next, but remember that you are now simply aiming to survive the move not do it with flair.
#8 Infrastructure Mistake
This one is not really a mistake you can prevent. No matter how hard you try your friendly telco will inevitably not have all the services they promised in the ad connected by the time you say goodbye to the movers. But take heart, it is possible to survive a move with kids without the foxtel/internet/phone working. I like to have a little care package put aside for them – one very popular present was a large magna doodle each – just to get through the first few days when nothing ever works!
#9 ‘But I like our old house better’ Mistake
I have learned to address this problem by giving them closure. After the cleaners have been through (I haven’t done my own exit cleaning since my second was born), I take them through the old house. It no longer looks or more importantly smells like their house. It doesn’t have any of the warmth or friendliness of the new house as there is no longer a feeling a family there. This gives them a chance to disconnect with the rooms they once felt were ‘theirs’.
#10 Perfect Parent Mistake
No matter how hard you try to pre-empt every little worry they have you won’t be able to predict what funny thoughts are swirling around in their heads. So don’t beat yourself up. Moving house is part of life and dealing with stress if character building for them (and you!).
Hope this helps – good luck with your next move!
Image source: Paulimus