I like to make new cushion covers to match my new house, get pictures up on the walls and do what I can to make it feel like my space. Involve the kids too if you can, and help them feel they have a safe space in their new home. It can take ages to unpack and settle. Don’t pressure yourself to do it all at once. Break down the tasks into steps, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Moving home can be stressful but it can also be an opportunity for a fresh start. If you are forced to move, say because of a separation, it can be hard on you and your children because of the likely losses. There are things you can do to make this easier on you all.
Moving to a new home or area can also be exciting. It’s a chance for a new start with your children. Be prepared to feel a bit homesick. You might miss family and friends, and your children might feel the same. Can you keep in touch on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp? You can then share things with them so they still feel a big part of your family’s life.
It’s natural to want a fresh start after a difficult time. For some people this means moving to a new area. But make sure you’re moving for the right reasons. Think about whether you’ll just be taking your worries with you. Getting support now might be a better option in the long run. How will it feel if you are far from family and friends, if children have to start a new school, if you have to look for work in an unfamiliar area, and so on?
If you have to move to a new place with or without your children, try to take the time, if you can, to make sure it’s the right place for you and your children (or as right as you can make it).
Some questions to ask are:
Do you want to be near to other people or away from them?
What sort of facilities do you need like health centres, hospitals, shops, play parks and libraries?
Is it close enough to your place of work and schools and nurseries?
What is public transport like?
Will there be opportunities for making friends?
Do your research about areas you’d consider. Think about the things that would affect you: the area, the street, the facilities.
Do some research about the housing available. As well as council housing, there may be housing associations in the area. Rather than completing several forms, check first. It’s likely that one form will add you to all waiting lists. It’s worth checking if there are smaller housing associations which aren’t on this form.
Be realistic about the type of housing you’ll be offered and the likely waiting time. The more particular you are about certain things such as fuel type, area, garden and so on, the longer you’re likely to wait. It might be worth reviewing your application to see if there are any changes you could make to get rehoused quicker.
If you or your children have any disabilities, this is something that you will have to take into account for any move. Your local council should be able to help with adaptations to make any housing suitable and accessible.
The house and the area need to feel and be safe and secure. Risk of domestic abuse from an ex-partner might affect your choices about type and location of housing. If domestic abuse is a factor, speak to the local Women’s Aid group. They should be able to put you in touch with what’s needed by way of home security, fire safety checks, lighting, stair entry systems and alarms.
Once you are in your new place, try to keep a structure to your day. You may be feeling a bit lost and lonely, so even just having set mealtimes can help give your life some shape.
Moving home can be a big change for anyone: adults and children. Some children adapt more easily than others. It can be harder if it’s a forced move, or if they need to move schools.
Change is to be expected. You can’t avoid it. But you can help your children cope with it.
Talk to them about how change can be positive. Maybe they’d like their new bedroom to be a different colour or theme and they can help choose other things around the house.
Talk to them about any worries they have. They may worry about things that seem small to you but can be huge for them.
Reassure them if you can but be honest about anything that you don’t know.
Include your children in choices such as any toys and favourite things they want to keep when they move, or how they want their new bedroom to be.
It can be helpful for everyone to pack one ‘open-me-first box’ with the things you all want immediately in your new home to help everyone settle.
Make the first night fun and an adventure instead of everyone being stressed about all the boxes to unpack and furniture to build. You could all ‘camp out’ in one room together, play a game and eat your favourite food.
Speak to them about how they can stay in touch with friends and anything they’re moving away from. Help them keep in touch.
Support them to find ways to connect with the new area and make new friends.
Look at how you can get to know people in the area too. This will help your children see that you also have to make new friends, and that they’re not the only ones who have to get used to the changes.
Children with autism might need some extra help with moving home or school. The National Autistic Society has information about this on its website or you can phone the Autism Advice Line on 01259 222 0222.
Furnishing and household items
If you’re on a tight budget look on Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle or Gumtree for household items. There might be a local ‘sales and wants’ page.
If you don’t have the money to decorate, you may be able to get some help from projects which help parents develop painting and decorating skills.
You may not want other people to know that you’ve been searching for information or help from OPFS.
When browsing the internet whether on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, you leave a ‘history’ trail of pages and sites you’ve visited.
It’s impossible to completely avoid being tracked online but if you’re worried about someone knowing which sites you’ve been looking at, there are some things you can do to help cover your tracks.
If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, try keeping another document or website open in a new tab or window while browsing. If someone comes in the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you can quickly switch to another window or tab.
Deleting browsing history
You can delete the history of websites you’ve visited, but it’s important to know that if you delete your browsing history, someone else using the same device may notice.
If you share a tablet, mobile phone, laptop or computer with someone, they might notice that passwords or website addresses have disappeared from their history.
Find out how to remove your browsing history and other data from some of the most commonly used browsers: