Moving can be stressful at the best of times, but moving with children adds an extra layer of anxiety. While parents are often distracted by all the practical considerations, children will be feeling the emotional upheaval of moving away from everything that is familiar. As moving is something which they can’t control, it’s understandable why children might find adjusting to a new home difficult.
So we asked our team and our community to tell us their stories of what worked for them. If you are moving with kids, we hope these experiences from real life will help make the transition easier for you and your family.
Dee Beth, Finance Director at Northfields Estates
I moved on a school day and the kids were collected by my sister and brought home. (Editor’s note: moving on a school day will also make removals costs cheaper, so this is another practical consideration). They stayed with her the previous night. The kids had already ‘chosen’ their rooms so they were quite happy. They were 3, 6, and 9 at the time.
Take-away tip: Move on a weekday.
Sam Ashdown the owner of HomeTruths – a specialist marketing consultancy within the property industry
Moving home as a single mum with kids of 10, 6 and 4 was tricky, to say the least! A few days before we were due to move, a friend gave me some great advice: “pack all their special things separately and make sure you take them in the car”, she said! Of course! I raced upstairs and dug out of boxes the little suitcases they each had. I turned it into a game: “See how many of your special things you can fit into your cases!” They grabbed teddies, blankets, books, Nintendo, photos from the walls, even a treasured video (it was a few years ago!), and packed all of them carefully in their cases. A week later, we were in our new home. The rooms looked empty, unfamiliar and scary to my little family. I passed each one their cases and told them to go unpack. They went off happily to place their special things around them and turn their new scary bedrooms into comforting and familiar places to enjoy. This left me to get on with unpacking the rest of our home, knowing they were reassured and relaxed in their new rooms.
Take-away tip: Make a game of getting children to pack their “special items” in their own suitcase & let them unpack those items first.
Helena Capponcello, Client Support at Northfields Estates
When I’ve moved house in the past I’ve always included my two kids – made a fuss of their bedrooms and put everything in their bedrooms first. I also let them help carry things from the removal van and let them empty boxes – you may have to rearrange later but at least they feel they are helping move into the new property.
Take-away tip: Let your children help you unpack & arrange things.
Natasha Gavin, via Pitshanger Area Friends Facebook group
Take their beds, even if you are moving abroad.
Take-away tip: Bringing kids’ beds will give them something familiar.
Ameeta Singh, Investments and New Homes at Northfields Investments and New Homes
When I moved, I found the first thing to do is get the beds put in the kids’ bedrooms and then make them up. At the end of the day you will be too tired to make beds and if the kids are tired they can go to sleep while you carry on. Also, I found it easier to put all boxes in one room then take them out and empty them one at a time so the whole house doesn’t look a mess and you can do them at your own pace.
Take-away tip: Set up your children’s beds first & make them up right away.
We’ve moved three times with our young children, and went overseas for long holidays to see grandparents as well. Our kids always took the change so well (I must admit in many ways better than us, grown-ups). I think the number 1 rule is to talk about the move, including your own feelings. Children sense what is happening and discussing things through (even with a small toddler) helps! Then obviously check out the schooling system, social security/insurance, visa-related matters when moving abroad. It is immensely helpful if you have a local friend who tells you openly how things work in the new place. If the children are older and go to secondary school, moving abroad/away can be tricky as they want to be more independent and stick to their friends.
Take-away tip: Talk to your children about the move and include how you feel about it.
Catherine Shell – via Pitshanger Area Friends Facebook group, nanny
I’m a nanny, and I know a family that moved from London to America. On their way over to the US to look for their new home, the parents accidentally found two small toys belonging to the kids in their luggage: a horse and chicken. They decided to take photos of the toys in the home they chose and sent them to the kids. The animals having breakfast at the table, asleep in their beds and at the local park. The boy was 3 years old and he loved it!! I thought it was a brilliant idea!
Take-away tip: Take photos of the children’s favourite toys in their new home & area to make it a game so that things seem familiar.
I moved to London last year with my then 5 year old son. It helped for him to think the decision was his also, and to take time off work to spend with him immediately before and after the move so as to make it a fun time. He also ‘packed’ and ‘unpacked’ his own bits and bobs.
Take-away tip: Take time off before and after the move to spend time with your kids.
As completion day approached, the thought of moving as a newly divorced singe dad with three boys aged 12, 9 and 8 became increasingly unattractive! I imagined it was going to be chaotic! I wanted to leave the boys with relatives but surprisingly they were excited about moving and all said they wanted to help. So I purchased 3 large, different coloured plastic containers and gave the boys one each to pack all their toys, computer games and books and a sheet of paper to make their own inventory – which they all did! They actually liked being involved and despite my worst fears the move went incredibly well and without incident!
Take-away tip: Have your children make up an inventory of their own things (if they are old enough).
We discussed moving with Sammy from the beginning. He viewed houses with us, picked his bed room and we made sure we visited again a couple of times before we moved in. Allowing him the opportunity to ‘play’ in his room and pick furniture and accessories made him excited. He looked forward to moving rather than being anxious of change. Keep them involved let them enjoy the dream and the journey with you.
Take-away tip: Bring kids to view houses and let them pick new furniture.
Charmaine Grant, Client Care Manager at Northfields Estates
When I moved I explained to Kaine who was only 2 at the time that we were moving to a ‘new house’ – a year later he still calls it his new house! We went and bought boxes together and he began packing things into his boxes and really got stuck in. It was helpful for me as he was occupied and out of the way, allowing me the time to sort other things out. He was part of process and it helped him to understand why his environment was changing.
Take-away tip: Take kids to buy packing supplies with you and let them pack their own boxes.
The moral of these stories?
At Northfields, we get a lot of families moved from one home to another in a year and we’ve seen all sorts of different ways of handling it. Members of our team have had experience with moving with children themselves so they understand what an upheaval it can be – that’s why we go the extra mile to help make the process easier.
In fact, one of my favourite stories of moving with kids came from one of our customers. A family with a little boy who bought a home in Ealing from us last year were moving from abroad so everything would have seemed that much more unfamiliar to their young son. Luckily, through their search, the little boy formed such an attachment to Rachel, one of our senior sales consultants, that after they moved in they asked Rachel to babysit. And she did! Now that’s going the extra mile to help a new family settle in! How can we help you to make moving with kids easier?
Whether you are selling or letting, if you need free advice about moving home, call us on 020 8799 3371 or email us. Alternatively, we’re happy to help on Twitter @northfieldslive or via our Facebook page. We’re here for you.
Who are we?
Northfields is different from other estate agents. From our modest beginnings in 1986 with one office, two people, and lots of big ideas, we’ve become the leading estate agent in West London. Today, our family-run business boasts five thriving branches, with three offices in Ealing, an ever expanding trophy cabinet, a reputation for getting results and for giving our customers outstanding customer service. What matters to you, matters to us.