Moving house can be a demanding, exhausting process. When you’re moving with a young family, it can be even more so. Keeping them happy, entertained and out from under your feet may seem like a mountain of a task. There’s also the emotional aspect: a house move can be very unsettling for little children and even teenagers, so it needs careful management. Here’s our five-point plan for easing the job of moving, for every member of the family.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. This applies when you come to pack up your kids’ rooms. The temptation is to be very ruthless, not taking anything that’s outgrown, broken or no longer played with. But this has to be handled very carefully. Psychological studies have proven that children and teenagers find great comfort in what you may see as their mess and clutter. They don’t see it that way. To them it’s all their familiar stuff and it may have far more meaning that you know about. So go gently. Give your child the responsibility for choosing what they want to bring to the new home. Negotiate: “maybe another little boy would love this … what do you think?” But don’t dictate. Once they get into the swing of things, you may find that your offspring enjoy being a bit ruthless, too.

Focus on the positives. You’re moving for a reason, and it should be an exciting adventure. That’s easy to forget when you are up to your ears in boxes and chaos. So, take time to talk with your kids about the great new home they have in store, and all the advantages it his. If you can, take a couple of trips to the new house, the playgrounds and the fun places around it. If this is impossible due to distance, show them lots of pictures and look up their new environment on the internet. Keep their enthusiasm up: it will make life much easier and reduce separation anxiety. It may also help rekindle your own enthusiasm, too!

Make it fun and make some money. Kids over six, like all of us, appreciate that money is very useful. You may well see those little eyes light up when you suggest that they can make some cash by selling some of the toys and clothes they don’t use any more. Older children and teenagers may really enjoy sorting through the old things and pricing them up, even organising their own garage sale. Keep an eye on them though: some get VERY enthused and end up selling off their Nintendos, PlayStations … even your TV … for a lot less than they’re worth! Stick to you word and give them at least a good percentage of sales of their own belongings. They can use is to accumulate more stuff in their new home …

Make them feel useful. Give kids something purposeful to do. It keeps them busy, letting you get on with the busy-ness of packing without a constant “Mum! I’m bored!” to annoy you. Maybe its washing the car, or the garden furniture. Making and taping boxes. Washing windows. Water and sticky stuff rule.

Give yourselves some room. On the night before the move and for the morning of moving day itself, things can get a bit frantic. A lot of rooms are (hopefully) completely empty at this point. This can leave kids a little lost, looking at the shell of their home, and at a loose end. A great idea is to choose someone they really like to have a sleepover with. But time it carefully: try and pick them up, taking them with you when you first arrive at your new house. They shouldn’t be excluded from this important moment, and will probably really enjoy it, exploring their brand new home and garden.

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