OK, it may sound like an oxymoron. For many of us, moving house is one of the five most stressful life events. But with a little planning, you CAN make it less of an onerous task and even quite enjoyable. Here are our top five tips for lightening the load and keeping everyone in the family happy with what’s going on.

1. Start earlier rather than last minute: OK, maybe this is easier said that done. But giving yourself time to do things thoroughly and not in a rush is vital to keeping the panic factor at bay. This may be the time to take some time off work – not trying to cram all the sorting, packing and cleaning into your weekends or evenings. In an ideal world, take a working week if you are moving on the Friday. Any longer, and you may well procrastinate and find other more fun things to do. Work systematically, starting with the places you just don’t need on a daily basis: like the shed, loft and cellars. Leave the bathroom and kitchen till last. Set up a ‘packing central’ room where you have all your materials, and boxes can be stored until moving day. Clean one room at a time once emptied and then shut the doors on it.

2. Upsell the positives to the kids: Kids feel the stress, and moving can be unsettling. So try and keep as calm as you can around them (not always easy) and try and make their packing a game. Remind them, a lot, about how cool their new room will be. Maybe promise them something new when you move to the new house. Help them get rid of the old, to make way for the new (see 3 and 4 below) but don’t part them from their favourite things. At a time like this, kids need the familiar and some continuity, so this isn’t the time to tell them they’re too old for that teddy bear.

3. Clear the clutter, cleanse your life: it’s a fresh start for all the members of the family, and you don’t want to be hauling stuff you no longer need (or no longer fit into) with you into your new home. This is an excellent time to rationalise, to offload what you haven’t used or worn in years. It can be really cathartic, save you space and money on what you have to pack and transport to the new house. Hey, it can even MAKE you some money … which leads neatly to …

4. Make some money for the new stuff: it’s great to be able to introduce some new furniture, curtains, garden furniture and more into your brand new home. Not just set it up as you did the old home, with the same old stuff. So as part of your decluttering, which can start as soon as you put your home on the market, start selling the things you no longer want. Car boot sales, Ebay, table top sales and your own garage sale will net you some money for the stuff you don’t need any more. Encourage the kids to join in, to make a little money for new toys and games.

5. Give the kids a holiday: for the last couple of days before the move, see if you can give the kids a mini break. Maybe they can sleepover with a friend or go to Granny. This gives them a treat, and gives you the space and time to get the last minute packing and cleaning done. But do let them say goodbye to their old room properly, and let them be there when you arrive for the first time in your new home. That helps give closure and also the great excitement of moving in.

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