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Preparing the family for a house move

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Moving home is stressful for all concerned.  Children can feel especially vulnerable at this time, as they generally have little control over the change, nor any real comprehension of what is involved and the impacts it will have on their lives. Such uncertainty is scary, and your children will need special attention in the time leading up to, and in the early weeks after, a house move.

Deciding to Move House

Often parents have no choice about moving home.  A change of job, financial circumstances, or family problems may all drive a change.  If you do have a choice, then it may be kinder to your children to time the move so that it does not coincide with any other major life event, such as a death in the family, or divorce.  Most children thrive on and gain comfort from familiarity and routine, and it is good to maintain those aspects of life when you can.

The Importance of Communication

Whatever the circumstances around your move, the very best way to help your children prepare is to talk to them about what is happening.  Being honest and open with them will give them chance to express concerns and fears so that you can address them together.  Getting your child as involved as possible in the process will help them to make sense of it.  Try to imagine from your child’s point of view how the move might look.  Here are some things to consider for each age group:

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Toddlers and preschoolers will not understand what ‘moving house’ means. Using toys to play-act how the move will work can be a great way to help them make sense of it, and be careful to explain that boxing-up toys and belongings does not mean they are being binned
  • Existing furniture and bedroom accessories will be comfortingly familiar to your child, so keep them initially for the new house
  • Avoid any other big changes in your child’s life during the move period if possible, for example potty training, or moving from a cot to a big bed
  • On moving day arrange for your child to be looked after by family or friends, or a trusted babysitter

School-Age Children

  • If possible arrange for your child to visit their new school before the move
  • Moving during term can give your child a chance to meet their new friends immediately. Moving in the holidays can avoid mid-term disruption, but allows time for fears of the new to grow – there is no right or wrong, so try to imagine which would work best for your child


  • Teenagers are perhaps the most difficult age, as friendships and freedom in a familiar environment will be fiercely coveted by your teen
  • Be sure to let them know that you understand and appreciate their concerns, and allow them to rant and express their frustrations
  • If possible arrange for your teen to revisit the area you are leaving behind, especially if there are upcoming events that have been eagerly awaited, and that they are keen not to miss, such as a prom

Once you have made the move, prioritise the organisation of your child’s room and possessions ahead of anything else.  Maintaining your daily routine of bedtime and mealtimes will also help to re-establish a sense of normality and security.  Schools suggest it can take around 6 weeks for a new child to settle in, so allow time for yours to make the transition, and be sensitive to the fact they will be a bit lost for a while.

Girl moving house




About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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