As the old saying goes, ‘change is as good as a holiday’. From landing a new job to getting a new haircut, it can be exciting and rejuvenating – especially for grown-ups.
But in the hearts and minds of children, change can sometimes be daunting, if not a little scary. So while moving in with a partner can be a big step for us oldies, the simple idea of moving from one home to another can be a giant and challenging leap for families.
Much like it was for Craig when he and his wife moved their kids from one house to the next in Parkdale, a bayside suburb of Melbourne – all of about 600 metres up the road.
Unpack the steps for moving house.
“We were after a quieter location,” says Craig, thinking back to what drove their decision to go through with the move. “One that would allow the kids to grow up with that suburban ideology of being able to ride your bike out at sunrise and return at sunset.”
But what seemed like a relatively small change to the biggest members of this young family didn’t go unnoticed by the littlest ones. “There was much anxiety about why we’re changing home and why we have to leave. Also, will they get to take their bedroom stuff and toys with them?”
It was hearing questions like these from the kids that lead Craig to bring them on the family’s moving house journey, more than he imagined. And taking charge and giving serious thought to each step along the way certainly seemed to work.
“It starts with the selling process and finishes with an empty house,” says the father-of-two. “Share with them. Let them understand. Let them assist with the packing. Let them say goodbye.”
Even when it came to selling the old house and buying the new place in Parkdale, this set of parents were all ears. “In fact, we probably should have listened more attentively,” Craig admits, “because after we bought the new house, and drove by it to show the kids, our son said ‘I don’t like that one – too small. I like the one next door!”
While the process of moving house can be stressful, testing even the most patient of people, letting your kids voice their concerns is Craig’s key piece of advice for families in the middle of such change. “Don’t ever shut them down,” Craig explains. “Answer all their questions – even repeat questions – because you’ll get a lot of them.”
Take it slow with settling into the new place.
Getting the kids excited about moving home is one thing. It’s a brand of change that’s more easily sold in “if it meets up to their expectations”, laughs Craig.
But then there’s actually getting them out the old house and into a new one, which can be a totally different ordeal in itself. “We chose to ship them off to make space for the heavy lifting and not have them underfoot,” says Craig. “But when the truck had been unloaded and the house was safe, we gave them the opportunity – even created a little mystery and surprise – to explore their new space and ask all the questions.”
Before that happened though, Craig had to make sense of his family’s mountain of possessions – and he deliberately chose to make his kids the priority. “You want to create a safe haven which has some similarities with their old home,” Craig suggests. “Make sure their bedroom is unpacked first and with familiar things. And if you can, ask them to choose new things for their bedroom so they can really own it.”
Leaving fond lasting memories from moving day can go a long way, too. “We made a point to have a picnic on the floor with fish and chips and make the first time in the new house fun,” Craig remembers.
“It can be little things like this that can matter the most, and if you get them right, the first night in your new home will hopefully be a restful one.”
In the middle of moving house? Download our ‘Changing Your Address’ checklist.