Moving House with Young Kids (with a minimal amount of losing it)
Folks, we have moved! We are still in the same town, but this house is probably twice the size of our former home. There is a garage, and a real garden. We have a ton of wallpaper to strip and a million ideas about how we want to personalize our new place. Even with all the work to do, I love this house already.
The process of moving, though, wasn’t particularly fun. I’m staring at a living room full of boxes, and feeling a bit sad about how I will be spending my afternoon. Trying to coordinate the move around the kids made the challenge even bigger. Here are a few reflections on what we did right and what we did wrong, for your benefit.
We picked what seemed like the least-stressful (and cheapest) moving option.
Carl and I really didn’t like the idea of getting a removal company in. Trying to move all of our things in one day felt really overwhelming. So, we made the decision to move the contents of our house into storage. Over the course of ten days, we took our stuff car load by car load to the storage unit. A few days before the move we hired a van and so we moved our things van load by van load. Don’t get me wrong, moving was still stressful. But this option, for us, was easier – and it meant that on the actual moving day, we had very little to actually move. Emptying the units only took three days with the help of a couple friends, and so it really didn’t feel like too much work.
We underestimated how much storage space we would need.
The website suggested we would need 100 square meters of storage to hold the contents of a two bedroom house. That would probably work, except that we had an attic and a cellar. Granted, we didn’t pack as neatly as we would have if we’d had a removal company, but we filled up one unit completely the weekend before the move. Of course, the storage company was very happy to rent us another room, which did the trick.
We asked for help with the kids.
On the day before moving day, a friend took the boys to the park. Having them out of the house for a few hours meant we got a ton done! A few other times, we asked someone to simply sit in our house while the boys napped so Carl and I could unload the van at the storage unit. With an adult at home, both Carl and I were able to shift more stuff out of our house.
We didn’t ask for enough help with the kids.
In my head, we would wake up on moving day, load our mattress, two cots, and our dining room table into the van, and go out to lunch while we waited for the call from the solicitors saying we could collect the keys. In reality, we had lots of bits and pieces to pack, touch-up painting to finish, and an oven to clean. Plus two kids running around like maniacs without any toys and no baby gates. I ended up leaving Carl at home to finish up while I took the kids to the park. It was intense, and not the peaceful goodbye to our house I had hoped for. It would have been much better to find someone to take the kids out of the house while we finished packing and cleaning.
We prepared our toddler for the big change.
N is 2.5 years old and he is so with it. Carl and I made sure to explain that we would be loading our things into boxes and moving them to our new house. A lot of this came up very naturally. N. would see us packing a box and ask what we were up to, and a conversation would flow from there. Carl even took him to the storage unit once. He also helped me pack – and he loaded his balance bike into the van himself at his request. We checked in regularly about how he felt about moving. Sometimes he said ‘happy’ and other times he reported ‘sad and upset’. So far, N. has weathered this change like a champ. He’s shown some signs of stress (namely acting out against his brother), but overall he has been pretty calm. He’s told us several times that he likes our new house!
As with any change, I think this could change. He may decide in a few days that he doesn’t like this house, and that he wants to go back to our old home. I do think, though, that we’ve done a pretty decent job of supporting N. through the move so far.
We lost a cat (and then found her)
We have three cats, and our plan is to keep them in the new house for a few weeks before letting them loose outside. At one point on moving day, I decided to do a quick headcount. And I couldn’t find one of them – even after three trips around the house.
It was miserable. I felt sure it was my fault – either letting her slip out while I was chatting with the new neighbors, or she escaped through a window I had opened too wide. Carl and I were both worried – we weren’t sure she would be able to find her way back to a completely unfamiliar house. This was the point where I actually lost it. There were some ugly tears.
Fortunately, a few hours later, I went into the garage and heard a muffled mewing. I couldn’t see her, but then opened a drawer in an old desk that the previous owner left. And there, stuck, we found our fluffy black cat. There is no moral to this story – just that cats can find crazy places to hide.
And now, to attack the pile of boxes.