Moving house: a stress-free guide

Cardboard houseJudging from the Talk boards, Mumsnetters moving house fall into two camps: those armed to the teeth with lists, bubble wrap, boxes and permanent markers, and those who stand, surrounded by 10 years of accumulated junk precious family mementoes, frozen with indecision over what to ditch and what to pack.

And if grown-ups rank moving as stressful as divorce or a death in the family, it's hard to imagine the agonies of small children who a) don't understand why they're moving at all and b) can't work out how Mr Cuddles is going to find his way to a new bedroom in a new house on a new street.

Preparing to move and packing

Boxing your home up ready to move is clearly the kind of activity which would thrill someone like Anthea Turner, but for most of us is a thankless, seemingly endless task punctuated by shrieks of horror as we unearth indescribable things behind sofas, at the back of cupboards and under beds.

Other Mumsnetters who've been there, rolled up their sleeves and wielded the fumigator have some useful tips.

    Print off our list of the people and companies you need to inform when you move home.
  • Allocate a room for boxes. We moved the children in together for the three weeks before our move to free up one bedroom for boxes that were packed and ready to go. Mum72
  • No matter how interesting your photos are, how much you want to stop and reminisce/chat about that favourite ornament of yours... DON'T! Be VERY clinical. Just pack. No flicking through books, no reading old letters. In your case, with time at a premium and kids to deal with too, no weeding out of documents/old toys/outgrown clothes either. It's all too time-consuming. Just pack them, military style, you can always weed out what you don't want/give things away etc when you've moved. Valhalla
  • Get a skip if you can. It will help to really declutter everything. You don't want to spend time & energy packing things you don't really need, want or use. GlendaTheGrizzlyPiggy
  • Put together a list for eBay/Freecycle asap so you're not moving stuff you don't need, and don't move all the books that you've read unless you want to keep them for sentimental reasons - they are heavy. googietheegg
  • Label every box with a small list of what's inside, then a BIG notice of which room in the new house you want it put into. BackforGood
  • Packing up a garage or garden shed can take much longer than you think so start early - same for an attic, (our garage took a whole weekend!) Stripymouse
  • We've also been eating our way through the odd things lurking in the back of the freezer and the cupboards to save having to take it with us. Kutner
  • If you can get clear bin-bag sized bags (usually sold as storage bags) they are ideal for duvets, soft toys and the like. stealthsquiggle

Or better still...

  • Pay the removals firm to pack as well - it is worth every penny and in the overall cost of moving house is minimal extra expenditure. Sidge

Whom to tell

Aside from the hand-engraved We're Moving cards you've obviously ordered, there are a few rather important folk who need to be told:

  • Most important thing is postal redirection - they need at least five days' notice. whiskersonkittens
  • Our broadband company needed 30 days notice that we were cancelling our contract, so that has been done. I'll also be asking the water company to do a meter reading, getting the forms ready to set up the mail redirect, notifying the council that we're no longer responsible for the council tax etc. A lot of these little jobs can be done now to save time later. Kutnervsd

And if you've done all of that and have some energy left...

  • It is nice to make a brief note for new buyers about things like what day the bins are collected, who delivers milk in the area, which companies supply the electricity, gas, etc and a job that can be done well in advance rather than rushing minutes before leaving the house as an afterthought. Stripymouse
  • Leave a bottle of plonk for the new owner with a forwarding address asking for any post to go there. latenightmum
Moving day essentials box

• Kettle
• Tea/coffee
• Sugar
• Long Life Milk
• Spoons
• Mugs
• Loo roll
• Kitchen roll
• Anti-bacterial wipes/hand wipes
• Carrier bags/bin bags
• File of paperwork (heating/water instructions, landlord or agent's phone number)
• Snacks, biscuits, chocolate, whatever, to keep you going 
• Allen key, screwdriver 
• Tea towel
• Hand towel
• Phone charger
• Most precious toy/blanket

Telling your children about the move

Story books about moving house come into their own here and can help dispel children's anxieties, for example that their stuff will be left behind or that they'll never see their friends again.

Mumsnetters suggest the following tactics for making the upheaval less disruptive for children:

  • I took our son over to the new house and got him to 'choose' his room. UniS
  • We moved house when our daughter was 2.6 years old. I had to do lots of talking her through the process in advance - how we were going to be packing everything up into boxes (I had to do interminable lists of all the things we would be taking), how it would all be loaded on to the lorry, and unpacked in the new house. I think the key is to remember that they don't take anything for granted and have no idea at all what is going on. Aranea
  • I gave our son (he was four) a cheap disposable camera for him to take photos of our old house just before he left. He liked that. We did the same for our new house and then got them developed so he could have the photos. TheArmadillo
  • Things that helped were familiar scents in our son's room. We used lavender oil for a few weeks either side of the move in his new and old bedrooms. Dinkystinky
  • It's very common for children to assume that things are part of the house. I remember my son particularly wanting to move to our new house as the boy here had a football table, and he couldn't wait to move so he could have it. Cat64

The day of the move

So the day of reckoning has arrived, your belongings have been stuffed into dustbin bags boxed up beautifully, the van is here and you're starting to get a little tearful. To help you from tipping over the emotional edge, here are some last-minute nuggets of know-how to get you through the day.

  • My one tip is, if the removals company offers you some sort of redelivery insurance in case of problems/delays getting into your new property then take it. We had a last-minute delay and by the time we finally got the key it was 5.30pm and the removals guys had to go (as it would have taken them three hours to unload). So they took our stuff into storage for the night and redelivered it the next morning. Without insurance it would have cost us another £700. smartiejake
  • Pack one box of essentials for move day - bog roll, kettle, coffee, mugs, milk, biscuits, scissors, Sellotape, pen, paper, screwdrivers, adjustable wrench and Allen keys (for inevitable last-minute furniture adjustment to go through doors, round corners etc). wonkylegs
  • Use a handbag that goes across your body so you can't put it down and mislay it (and thus lose keys, etc). Valhalla
  • Don't do what I did and label some of your boxes by writing on the parcel tape with a dry wipe pen. Whizzz
  • Try to find accommodation close to your new house just for one night. Hotel, friend's house etc. Then you can concentrate on moving everything into the house in one day and go back the next and unpack. GlendaTheGrizzlyPiggy

Settling into your new home

Before you start unpacking (and discover the only fragile item to have survived the move intact is a Lladró figurine bequeathed by an aged relative), take a moment to find your happy place.

  • When you get to the other end, make the beds first. Because at the end of a long day and when you have started unpacking, you really won't want to make a bed at midnight. So make the beds, do your unpacking and then you can just fall into bed. Bigbadmummy
  • I think it's important to have one safe haven in the new house to retreat to. We put a heater in the nursery so it was always cosy and warm. The unpacking was done first in there. Then we gave ourselves permission to unpack everything else slowly and eat take-out for the first couple of weeks. blinder

And one of the most useful pieces of advice we've seen: bring in reinforcements.

  • I insisted that DH take a week off to help unpack and adapt! cantsupinate 



Image: Shutterstock

Last updated: 7 months ago