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Advice on moving home with three children

packing suitcase

...or to be exact, moving to a house on an island with three children aged 4, 2 and 9 months whilst the 2 year old is potty training.

And we have two dogs.  And we did it between Christmas and New Year.

They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do.  I reckon that's about right, but it has a flip side.  My wife and I have moved 3 times in the last 6 years, and we are now in the house that we will spend the next 20 years in.  

The thought of watching my children grow from noisy, squabbling and occasionally delightful boys into fully continent adults in this house is very pleasing indeed.  I will be in my mid fifties when I move again, and who knows - the children might even help pack!

I've got some advice for anyone contemplating moving home with children.

1. Don't sit down.  If you sit down, the day will spiral out of control and quickly become irretrievable.  Work, work, work.

2. Don't worry about the lack of sleep in the run up to the move.  I usually struggle with anything less than 7 hours sleep, but I was getting by on 5 or 6 for weeks simply because the move - whilst stressful - was also exciting and I was pretty wired.

3. The TV is your friend.  I don't like putting the telly on for the children (even though I quite like watching the Octonauts if I'm honest) but needs must.  When the baby is napping, but the telly on so you and your partner can focus on packing.

4. Be ruthless.  Moving house is arguably the best opportunity you'll ever have to de-clutter your home.  If you haven't worn something in months, throw it out.  If the children have one of those toys with a hundred tiny little pieces, throw it out and say it got lost in the move.

5. Prepare yourself for finding quite a few little hidden nasties in the new home.  Everyone does.  We found that the conservatory windows have all been sealed shut to prevent water getting in.  You just don't check those things when you're viewing a hosue, do you?  Particularly if the rain is lashing down and it's blowing a gale as it was.  Those surveys aren't worth the paper they're printed on, either.  Just a waste of time and money but the mortgage lender insists upon it.

6. Don't eat like you're on holiday!  We had been stuffing ourselves for well over a fortnight because living in our new house felt like being on holiday.  Combined with the lack of exercise (can't find the time yet!) it has been a very unhealthy couple of weeks.

7. If you have budgeted for it, get lots of stuff done to the house as soon as you move in.  We learned from the last time we moved that if you don't do it straight away, you just get used to it and never bother.  It wasn't until the house was looking bare that we thought 'in 3 years, we never did get round to fixing that toilet seat.'

8. Get recommendations on what tradesmen to use, even if you're new to an area and you have to wait in order to meet someone and ask them.  We had so much going on in our life at the time of the move that we really would have struggled if the plumbers, joiners and electricians didn't turn up when they said they would.

9. This is a fairly obvious one (and my advice comes with the disclaimer that my eldest is 4 and I have no experience with older children): get the children really excited about the new house. If you can, get some toys in there in advance of their arrival. I would not like to go through all that with the children crying and saying "I want my old house!!!"

So that's my advice.  I may add more later, as I think it will be a couple of months before the house actually feels like home.  We keep noticing things we're without that we just didn't think to bring, and I must confess to driving straight past my house a few times in the first few days.  And I'm still looking in at least 3 different kitchen cupboards before I find what I'm looking for.

But... I won't be doing this again any time soon!!!!  And that's just fine with me.


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