First published: Baby YumYum

Moving house can be challenging, but moving house with three small children in tow is near impossible! There is so much that can go wrong.

There’s no such thing as a smooth move. No matter how prepared you are, the full burden of a move only seeps in when the moving truck arrives. The husband-and-wife team split up, as do the kids. One half readies the new house for the offloading process, while the other half orchestrates the loading process. This sounds clever in theory.

In loading up, the movers walk through the house like they own the place and you suddenly feel like you are in the way, almost a stranger in your own home. They start loading while you try keeping the dogs quiet and the kids happy. Within the hour, the life you had spent weeks boxing up is whisked into a large truck and off they go, racing over speedbumps as though the truck is empty. You can still hear your cutlery rattling when they hit the main road. You sigh and pass the baton to your partner.

In offloading, you tally up the breakages as goods are unloaded and you can’t help the movers or give directions because the child who decided to come with you no longer wants to be there. They wander around, get in the way and annoy the movers, and hell hath no fury like a grumpy mover. Then your neighbours walk in as if they own the place and suddenly you feel in the way again, again a stranger in your own home. You endure an hour-long chit-chat, while they look disapprovingly at your boxed goods. You feel naked and exposed for no apparent reason.

“NO MATTER HOW PREPARED YOU ARE, THE FULL BURDEN OF A MOVE ONLY SEEPS IN WHEN THE MOVING TRUCK ARRIVES.”

Then moving is done, spouses and children arrive at the new house and the family unit is reunited once again. Exhausted and stressed, you skip bath time, buy pizzas for everyone and call it a night. Deep down, you know the fun starts afresh tomorrow.

The next time you plan a move, be sure to consider the following to make it a smoother move:

Packing boxes

First, make a house moving checklist then get packing. Pack boxes at night, when kids are asleep. Leave the most treasured toys and teddies until the very last moment. As soon as the toys are gone, kids get confused and bored. Mark boxes clearly. If possible, keep a separate suitcase for toiletries and medicines. Those items have a way of disappearing when you need them most. Rotate packing days. One partner does the babysitting, while the other packs as much as possible. The next day you rotate. Take some time off work if you must. Packing in peace is not always possible, but it does help.

Toddlers like nothing more than packing and unpacking at the same time, then throwing things across the room for fun. This can be a problem. If they really want to help, give them a box with random, unimportant items (like kitchen plasticware) and task each child with packing their own box. It probably won’t end well, but at least they are kept busy. Or get them to paint or draw pictures on their boxes so that Mr Mover knows it is their boxes.

Sell, sell, sell

We have this weird philosophy with packing. When in doubt, sell. When we move, we move with essential items only. The rule of thumb is: If you haven’t used it in three months, you never willSell the things that take up space and never get used. Like that foot spa, the loud toys the kids never play with, or the fishing rods that have been collecting cobwebs. Sell ’em! Advertise items on social media and chat groups. Have yard sales. Do whatever you have to do to get rid of stuff and lighten the load before the movers come.

Get children on board

Though the psychological implications of moving can be daunting for children,  it is our responsibility as parents to make it fun for them. If not fun, then at least make it less traumatic. Sometimes we don’t credit children with enough reasoning power to understand what is happening. Sit down and explain the move to the children in different ways, using dolls and boxes as illustrations. Do whatever is necessary to prepare them.

School shopping

Moving schools is no longer as easy as it was way back when. There is a whole new social dynamic that plays a role in a child’s early development and schooling forms a large part of this dynamic. Not only have they been abruptly uprooted and moved from their social environment, but they also need time to create a new comfort zone. Latest studies show that frequent school switching can develop psychotic tendencies, so begin school shopping long before moving day.

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