I have moved house 17 times in my life as an adult and probably just as many times (if not more) as a child. I went to 10 different schools, in 3 Australian States and 2 countries to give you an indication on my childhood moving history, but to be honest, I’ve lost count now on actual house moves.
The house I live in now is the longest I have lived anywhere!
So moving has been an integral part of my life.
Here are my top ten tips for moving house.
First aid kit– have it handy and make sure you have a stash of plasters, antiseptic creams, tweezers, cold packs, Arnica (for bruising), tissues, wipes, pain relief (inevitably one of us will get a headache). Hay fever tablets (dust always seems to stir up mine).
Always make sure you have your essential medications stored here or somewhere else safe as well.
First night box– have everything that you are going to need for your first night packed. Here are some things to think about.
* Kettle- tea, coffee, cups tea spoons, milk (fresh or UHT), sweetener, sugar. etc.
* Things for baby or child’s routine bottles, special toys, blankie, book, night lights etc.
* PJ’s and toothbrushes.
* Bedding- work out where you are sleeping and what you will need.
* Toilet paper yes, have a stash and know exactly where it is.
* Towels and toiletries make sure you know where they are.
* Chargers- know where they all are, put them in the one spot so you aren’t scrounging looking for them. Use a power board to help keep things all in one spot.
* Have the children pack a back pack each of things they would like to have on them for the first day/night.
* Make sure pets are catered for too. Bowls, food, toys etc.
* Have a little kit of pens, paper, sticky tape, scissors etc.
* Essential tools- Allen/Hex keys, screwdrivers, stanley knife, hammers, measuring tape. Doesn’t have to be full kit, but know where the things you will need to pack up and put down are, and make sure they all go back into the first night box.
* Pack the dish washing liquid and tea towels.
* Make sure you have enough light bulbs for the new place.
* Batteries for smoke alarms, and just because everyone always seems to need them.
Keep hydrated– it is a simple but easy thing to forget and can affect how you feel on the day. Make sure you either have jugs of drink with disposable cups on the go for those helping out, or bottled water, keep the kettle handy for that pick me up brew, or know where to go for a quick pit stop.
Plan your meals– whether that be making the decision you are going to get take-a-way and where from (do you need menus in your first night box?), or have a family member of friend have you over, or you want to cook something in your new home. Whatever you decide, have a plan. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of a busy day and everyone arguing about what to do for dinner. Have a designated person who is responsible for this.
Also make sure you have something in for breakfast if you don’t fancy getting up early to go on a hunting and gathering spree.
Cater for the kids– As expats and/or living in a city away from family we haven’t often had the luxury of having our 5 kids looked after when we have been moving. Often a friend may take one or all for a few hours, but mostly we just muddled through.
Our kids were often a really great help to us while moving, because they had been brought up to be a part of our lives. As they grew they knew how to mop a floor or wipe down a bathroom or kitchen surface, they had experience playing with younger siblings and helped keeping them entertained. They had been taught to use a Allen/Hex key, so could help with dismantling furniture. I can’t say that they ever/always enjoyed this, but they were often a part of the process.
Make sure you have some dvd’s, books or toys, tablets left out for them. Think about some fun things, like chalk drawing or bubble blowing, colouring in, a new puzzle or game to help keep them entertained.
Give them a list of helpful things they can do that can make them feel useful too. Pre-plan it so you don’t have to think of jobs on the spot. Maybe use it as an opportunity to earn some extra pocket-money.
Have a designated parent that kids come to and who is responsible for the children on the day. This just helps stop arguments about who is doing the most important thing at the time.
Brutally cull– I find it really discouraging to get to the next house and find little bits and bobs that I wish that I had thrown away. Use moving as a time to really cull the things out of your life that you haven’t used, won’t need or won’t have it’s own space in your new home.
Plan your outfit– We have moved house in heat waves, sunshine, rain showers, down falls and snow and ice lined paths and drive ways.
I know outfit planning sounds weird, but if you are like me, you will want to be comfortable. Think through those jeans that ride down, or t-shirts that ride up, bra straps that linger around your shoulder and you are going to spend all day tackling when you are in funny positions moving furniture.
Things like that drive me crazy, and can add stress to my day.
Make sure you know what the weather is going to be like, and dress appropriately. Make sure you are not going to be too warm or too cold. Have wet weather gear or welly boots you can throw off and on in going in and outside.
Make sure you wear sensible footwear that will protect your toes.
Don’t underestimate the box– I know they can feel like an unnecessary expense when moving, but a good quality cardboard box can really help alleviate stress.
You can often beg, borrow and steal boxes from friends, or by asking on local community groups.
Don’t be tempted to just throw things in a car or van, as it can lead to absolute chaos at the other end.
While some things do ok in black bin bags (like bedding), I don’t know how many times I have skimped on a box and ended up picking up Barbie shoes, hair brushes and tubs of spilt glitter when a bag has ripped mid move.
Think through your boxes and furniture– Move your furniture first so that you aren’t double moving things, when you are at the house (i.e moving boxes to make way for book cases etc).
Pack what you need the least first and what you need the most last. And properly mark them as accurately as you can so you know where to find things later on. When you are packing things on to a van etc try to order your boxes in the same way, put the stuff you need first at the front of the truck etc so it comes off last and is more easily found.
Cleaning and gardening– This is truly the worst part of moving for me. I have found it to be a largely discouraging time, when the house I am moving out of is ALWAYS left cleaner, than the one I am moving into. I have just resigned myself to that knowledge now.
Cleaning is stressful, and as much as you can get done before you move out, helps with that.
I know it sounds counter intuitive, knowing that it is easier to do it when the house is clear of belongings and certainly for some things it most definitely is. However I have found there is a psychological shift that happens, when I get to my new house. I really want to be putting my energy into that. As much as I could do before I moved, the happier I felt in terms of where I got to spend my time after moving day.
I would often move kids out of their rooms, and into a shared room on mattresses etc so we could do the necessary cleaning before we moved. Being able to close the door on a room before moving day is a satisfying thing.
What cleaning can be done before moving day? Can you have lawns mowed, ovens cleaned etc before moving out, rather than having to come back and do everything. Is there any painting and decorating that needs to be done?
Can bathrooms be washed before hand?
Make sure all your washing is done before you move. Urgh, I hate carting dirty laundry about if I can help it.
And if there is any time left in the already busy schedule of moving, are there things that can be done in the new house before things are moved in, to make it easier once there?
What top tips do you have for people moving house?