When we first found out we would have to move to a new city seven hours away for my husbands’ new job, the stress didn’t take long to creep its way in. The moment we realized we would have to pick up our lives and find a new home in just 30 days, all I could do was look at my one-year-old daughter who couldn’t sit still and think to myself – “now this is going to be interesting.” Never had I ever thought about making a big move with a toddler – until now.
Moving to a new home isn’t an easy task at any stage, but it becomes even more of a challenge when you have to do it all with a toddler in tow. Not only do you have to worry about packing, loading up a moving truck and settling into a new community – but you also have to ensure that your child is comfortable and ready for the transition. How is that even possible without earning a few scraggly white hairs? Well, I can’t promise anything, but these few tips certainly helped with my stress.
What should you do before moving day?
Look at the best options for travel
Moving can be a costly expense. Therefore, you must do your research and look for the most affordable options available to get you to your destination. The costs to consider while moving include the mode of transportation, the travel expenses, and the packing materials. One thing that I strongly recommend for those moving a far distance is to consider whichever option is going to be the easiest to manage your move with a toddler.
For us, it made more sense for my husband to drive the moving truck and for myself and my daughter to fly to our new destination. Although it was an added expense to fly rather than hop in the vehicle for a road trip, it was also a lot shorter of a journey and a lot less stressful. If your toddler is anything like mine, sitting still for upwards of 10 hours is not her favorite activity in the slightest. Even if it means splitting up the family and looking at a higher bill – weigh your pros and cons to see which travel options are worthwhile.
Don’t pack everything
The most significant task when it comes to moving is sorting through all of your belongings and putting everything into boxes. Now is the time to declutter and get rid of items you won’t need in your new house. Now is also the time your toddler will be sure to unpack everything you put into boxes. “But mom, it’s so fun!” Try to do your packing during their nap times and after they go to bed. This way, you can move the boxes into one room or your garage before they get the chance to backtrack all of your hard work.
There are plenty of different ways to sort and organize as you start your moving checklist. However, don’t forget to keep out any toys, or baby belongings that your toddler might need up until moving day. It’s easy to throw every stuffed animal and electronic into one box right before you head out. Don’t get carried away too early!
Let them say their goodbyes and do their favorite things one last time before you leave
Even though they’re young, toddlers can quickly become attached to their surroundings. Before you move, make sure you take them to their favorite places and do their favorite activities so that they don’t feel blindsided. Maybe there was a mom and tot group you spent a ton of time with, or perhaps there was a playground where you spent most afternoons.
For our daughter, the pool and the library had become a part of our weekly ritual. Therefore, we needed to get to spend time doing these things before we left. Okay, okay, you got me. These moments were also for us as parents, too. We had created memories in her first time swimming and her first time choosing out a book. Nothing says sentimental quite like your babies firsts. Before you move with a toddler, don’t forget to enjoy the time you have left amidst the packing.
What should you do during the move?
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
Whether you’re in a vehicle or on a plane, one of the best tips I ever received from fellow parents was to come armed with food. We always have lots of healthy and mess-free snacks on hand to keep our child busy while we travel.
Some good ideas for snacks to bring include blueberries, bananas, cheerios and crackers. Not only are these foods easy to pack, but they’re also healthy and time-consuming for most toddlers to eat. Well, not the blueberries. My daughter can eat about 100 per minute.
Do what makes your entire family comfortable
No matter how you choose to travel, it’s always a good idea to ensure that every single member of the family is comfortable. Don’t be afraid to take your time and enjoy the scenery on this journey. If you drive, map out some fun places to stop along the way for a picnic or an activity that might wear your toddler out so they can rest in the car.
If you fly to your destination, make sure to pack lots of books and toys that will keep everyone occupied and happy on the plane. For most flights, children under two can fly for free if they sit on their parents’ lap. However, if the flight is long and you won’t be comfortable sharing a small airplane seat, consider buying them their ticket.
What should you do after the move?
Give them time to readjust – and don’t expect it to be a perfect transition
A move can be overwhelming for adults, but it can be even more difficult for toddlers. Imagine if someone moved your bed to a new room, but they couldn’t explain to you how or why this happened. Be prepared for the first few nights to be rocky as they readjust to their new surroundings. Try to set up their new room in a way that is similar to their previous space.
The hardest part of any move with a toddler is the change in sleep routine. For us, it was essential to set up her nightlight, fan and decorations the same way they were before the move. This way, she hardly noticed that she was sleeping in a different spot. To ultimately settle in took about two naps and two nights. However, every child is different.
Let them help unpack their things
Most toddlers like to help their parents do things around the house. Since they were so great at unpacking boxes before you made a move, don’t feel like you need to stop them now. If you let them unpack their toys and their belongings, they will likely feel as though they were apart of the process and the decisions made.
Unpacking is a fun opportunity to bond with your child as you begin to make memories in a new place you can call home. If you move with a toddler, it can sometimes mean you don’t remember where everything is. Having them help will not only make the process go by quickly, but it will also provide a safe and easy activity to pass the time.
Now might be the time to introduce a comfort toy or stuffed animal
When we found out that we would be moving, we started to take one of our daughters’ stuffed animals everywhere she went, and we finally caved in and let her bring this same stuffed animal into her crib. This way, no matter where we went, she found her stuffy and immediately felt at home.
Moving can be a great time to introduce a sentimental object for your child to carry around. This way, when they enter the new space, they have something to hold on to just in case mommy or daddy isn’t around.
The move with a toddler doesn’t need to be as overwhelming as it sounds. The younger they are, the easier it is to introduce a new home and give yourselves a fresh start in a new community.
Take the process one day at a time and know that there are other parents out there who stand in solidarity with those of you who are trying to convince your toddler to strap into their car seat for multiple hours on end. Good luck!
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