Are you stressed about moving house with kids? Get them to lend a hand! There are lots of things that kids of all ages can do to help. Best of all, getting them involved means the job doesn’t land entirely on your shoulders and it can help give them a feeling of control over this chaotic period; assisting them in working through any move-related anxieties.
Here are our suggestions on jobs that the kids can do when moving house. Good luck!
Kids Aged 3 To 7 years
Really little children can help pack soft things that don’t require too much careful arrangement, such as pre-sorted clothes and soft toys. Clothes can be stuffed in a suitcase – the older kids may be able to fold them if shown how. Soft toys can be piled into a box, large bag or laundry hamper. You can even draw a house on the outside of the box so they can pretend play as they put their soft toys in. Don’t forget to keep their favourite soft toy and a change of clothes aside for moving day.
Primary school children can help sort through their belongings and declutter in a limited capacity. It will probably be too difficult for them to go through all of their things, so instead try asking them to pick their top 10 toys or books to keep, and then go through the rest together and divide into ‘keep’ and ‘donate’ piles. This is a great opportunity to teach them the concept of giving to charity. If your child is a sensitive soul who can’t stand to part with any of their possessions, you might need to do the decluttering yourself.
This is also a great time to introduce younger children to household chores, to ease your overall workload. For example, they can help unload the dishwasher, put away laundry and help dispose of rubbish.
Tweens Aged 8-12 Years
Children this age can help you declutter, pack and clean with guidance.
To help the kids declutter without overwhelm, give them one category to work on at a time, such as books, knick-knacks, pjs, etc. Get them to divide into keep, donate and also have a bin for throwing out anything that’s broken. Once again, if deciding on all things is too hard, just get them to choose their ‘top 5’ for each category, that they definitely want to keep.
You can also get them helping with the general packing. Provide them with some basic packing tips and work on a box or two together, then arm then with all the necessary packing supplies and get them to do a few boxes. Give them a set task, such as packing the bathroom cupboard.
Make sure you’ve shown them how to label their boxes and record the contents. Writing labels is also something they can do for you while you pack.
One of the biggest jobs when moving house is cleaning after you’ve packed everything, and tweens can help out with this. They can vacuum, dust, mop, weed the garden and much more. Give them a set task that’s not overwhelming and show them how it’s done to get them started. You might need to sweeten the task with a reward – such as their favourite takeaway for dinner (no cooking for you, too!).
Once in the new house, tweens can help unpack things into their room. You might need to guide them with this, starting with something like unpacking all soft toys into a crate, or clothes into drawers. They can also manage things like filling the cutlery drawer, placing towels in a cupboard and so on.
Teenagers Aged 13 years plus
It’s appropriate to give this age group a lot more responsibility over sorting and packing their own possessions. Not only are they capable, but they will probably want to make any decluttering decisions for themselves. But, as with the other age groups, just asking them to sort out their stuff may be too overwhelming, and they will probably need the job broken down. Run through the following steps with them, one category of possessions at a time:
- Pick one category and pull everything out.
- Discard anything broken or unusable immediately.
- Sort the remains into ‘take’ and ‘donate’ piles.
- For clothes, donate anything that is now too small.
- To start the ‘take’ pile, choose a top 5 -10 items to definitely keep.
- For old schoolwork, knick-knacks or mementos, consider providing a tub or folio, and only allowing them to take what fits in it.
- Consider everything else in turn. If it hasn’t been used in a year, only hold onto it if there’s a very good reason.
Get them to box up their decluttered items right away if possible, and make sure they label their boxes and include the contents.
Teenagers can also be made responsible for cleaning their room. If they are starting with a ‘floordrobe’ of dirty clothes on the floor, get them to tackle the laundry first of all.
With some guidance on how to pack, teens can help you pack other household goods. Give them a set task, such as packing all the crockery or a bookshelf. They can also help you lug bags of goods to charity, clean up empty rooms, and stay on top of household chores. You might think of an incentive to their being extra helpful during this time, such as getting to choose new bedding or furniture for their new room.
When you’re at the other end of your house move, teens can set up their own room. You may need to provide deadlines for unpacking all their boxes or help them with it, but let them set things up the way they want them. Once again, you can also give them discreet tasks such as unpacking all the bedding and placing it in the linen cupboard.