2. Packing Up Your Family Life

So it’s time to start packing and now you have to decide where to start. The way you approach your move will depend on the person you are, your moving circumstances, and the help and time you have to hand. However you approach your move, our practical tips should help you successfully organise and pack up your family life.

  • Out With the Old, Unused & Unloved

    To save money, time and energy during your move, get rid of belongings that don’t have a place in your new home. Moving is a great time to take stock of all the things you’ve managed to accumulate. A good rule to follow is if you can’t remember the time it was used or came in handy, it shouldn’t be coming with you. While all this sorting can be time-consuming, it will make for a smoother move and save you money from day one. Start a separate box to collect things that you would like to donate or sell and a separate box or bag of things you want to do neither with. Tread very carefully when throwing out your families’ belongings, especially your children’s. Old socks are okay but an abandoned moth eaten teddy bear might feel like the end of the world to your 5 year old or 15 year old for that matter.

    “Start running down the freezer if stocked up so you move with very little in it. Use the excuse to clear out a lot of stuff you are hanging on to but might actually never use. If it's been in the loft for 5 years - chuck it.”
    Marianne Whooley (
    “My tried and trusted tip is simple: if in doubt don't pack it, bin it! In other words de-clutter and de-clutter some more and only pack what you really need!”
    Tim Atkinson (
  • Start Small, Start Early

    Depending on the size of your home and the space available you could start with a few boxes in a room that is not as frequently used or one box in each room. It all starts with that one box! Start placing things there that you know you really won’t need from now until you move. You will find there are loads of things that you don’t use every day and that can be packed in advance.

    “Garages and sheds can be packed away early too.”
    Marianne Whooley (
  • Get Each Member of the Family Involved

    It is usually a good idea to let each member of the family be involved with packing their own possessions as it can help ease anxiety and panic. Allowing your children to make decisions however small can let them feel a little more in control of their situation and will also help children feel like they are a part of the move. When it's time to start packing, allow your children to make some decisions about what to pack and what to leave behind. Explain to your younger children that their toys are just being put in boxes so they can be taken to their new bedroom to save them worrying that all their toys are being taken away from them. To a child, a move can feel like their world is coming crashing down so if keeping that threadbare teddy bear could help hold a piece of their world together, pack him with care. The fate of a holey pair of yellow cords that your husband has held on to since university might not be as bright. Pick your battles carefully!

  • Labels are Your Friend

    Before you know it, you will have boxes all over the place, all with their own purpose. Now before you lose sight of the purpose of each box LABEL IT. The more detail the better; colour coordinate, go crazy and get creative with your little ones.

    “Start packing boxes one month before you're due to move. Label which room they are for on each side for easy reference - invest in a good thick felt pen.”
    Marianne Whooley (
  • Not All Boxes are Made Equal

    Not only should you be labelling what is in each box so you can find the kettle when you arrive (because you’ll need the kettle), you should decide which boxes you want to be “last out”. These boxes will be last out of your home, last onto the moving van and the first ones opened at the other end. “Last out” boxes will be the ones that are filled with the more essential things e.g. bathroom essentials, bed sheets and things your family use daily. The rule of thumb is to include all essentials that you and your family will need for at least 24 hours. Presumably, there's a grocery or convenience store nearby, but just in case, you should have some food stuff on hand that you can quickly prepare for your family. You’ll also want to label your child’s boxes “last out” so you can unload these first and set up your little one’s room as soon as possible. You will also want to include safety essentials such as socket covers and stair gates in your essential boxes so you can get them set up straight away. Keep some basic tools in this box in case you need a screwdriver or other tool to put some furniture together or break down boxes. You may not be ready to pack your Essentials Box yet, but that doesn't mean you can't start making a list of items to include.

    “Make sure you have the necessities all in one box, kettle, mugs, teabags, sugar, biscuits, pasta and a jar of sauce and cleaning products too as you may need to clean before you start using the cupboards.”
    Marianne Whooley (
  • Pack Your Survival Bags

    Prepare a family suitcase as if you were going on a three-day vacation and include all the personal items you will need on your moving day and possibly for the few days after the move. This can be a fun task to get your kids involved in. Ask your child to decide which three items they would take on a desert island and pack these in a bag, also filled with a few days clean clothes. This is not only a fun way to involve your child in the packing process but also provides a sense of security as depending on their age (and how practical they are!) they will choose their favourite things. Make sure your children have enough toys, which can be easily accessed to keep them entertained. Make sure to have plenty of water and snacks for the whole family. Pack your baby’s things separately and keep them with you to transport your baby in as much comfort and familiarity as possible.

    “In one suitcase put clothes you will need for the first few days for each member of the family. Socks, pants, t shirts, toiletries jeans, cardigans, pyjamas etc. school uniform too if needed. Also have to hand bedclothes to make up the beds with duvets and pillows.”
    Marianne Whooley (
    “Having moved twice in eight months with five children I know how stressful it can be! My biggest tip for the moving day is to have the children's bed linen already made up so it can go straight on the beds...and to let each child have a bag with their pyjamas, tooth brush, cuddly toy, book and change of clothes for the next day ready without the need to frantically hunt for those things late at night when everyone is exhausted.”
    Nova (
  • Make Your Reassembling Easier

    To make reassembling your children’s cots and beds easier, bag and tape screws, bolts and other loose items to the underside of the furniture as you dismantle them. These are the items you will want to reassemble first so keep everything you'll need to reassemble furniture in a separate box that is clearly marked. It might also be a good idea to take pictures of the connections of wires on your electronics. This will help you hook them back up in your new home easily. You could also use small stickers when moving electronics with multiple cords. Place corresponding stickers on the cord and on the place where it attaches on the device. You’ll thank yourself later.