Moving house with kids: a survival guide

How to get through a house move whatever the age of your child

Moving house with kids: a survival guide

0-1 years

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Babies, frankly, don’t care too much about anything beyond their bed, food, a clean nappy and you (not necessarily in that order). This is not the time to change her cot, run out of cuddly muslins or wash the familiar smells off of Teddy. Transport your baby in a bubble of familiar comfort. On no account vary mealtimes.

1-2 years

Mobile babies are hell on moving day. If you can find someone they like to look after them during the critical hours while vans fill up and unload, do so. If you must have your toddler around all day use a playpen. Yes, even if you never have before, and never intend to again. Fill it with really interesting new toys (borrowed if necessary). A teenage niece is an excellent person to have around, generously tipped to do nothing but keep toddler safe and happily out of mischief.

2-3 years

Bigger toddlers, on the other hand, don’t want to be left out and actually find the business of the ‘Big Van’ very exciting. What they need is a couple of personal boxes in which to pack and unpack a few favourite toys. Get removal boxes and plaster jolly stickers all over them with the child’s name; let them ask the removal men (or Daddy) to put the boxes in the van last, and unload them first with due ceremony.

3-4 years

A tricky age, because they have just started realising frightening things about change and loss and death. This is the stage where children get upset about not being able to take the view, or the stairs, with them. If you have a pet, it helps to involve the child in discussing how to make Fido or Felix feel comfortable; you will pick up a lot of clues about what your child is worried about too.

5-7 years

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Encourage poems and paintings about the old home and the new one. Keep a collection of works of art from the old kitchen walls and instantly Blu-tak them up in the new place, to show that this is as much theirs as the old one. If you are still in the neighbourhood, let them have friends round to view it and play in the boxes as soon as you’ve moved. Never mind the hideous chaos. Children like chaos.