moving with a toddler

Moving homes is a challenge in itself and with the addition of kids to the equation, this challenge surely amplifies. Even if you’ve confidently moved around a couple of times in the past, you would agree that moving with a toddler is a whole different ball game. This is mainly because just like us, toddlers are creatures of habit. And it’s only natural for them to start to feel uncomfortable with the move, since they will be shifting to an entirely unfamiliar surrounding.

Your toddler may be accustomed to the way their room is set and places where they can reach out for their toys and you. When the placement of things changes, they remember the change overnight. It can take them by surprise and sadly confuse them into feeling upset or agitated. When this starts to happen, it is absolutely necessary to ease them into the moving process.

It’s not just about taking baby steps to let them take their time to settle in. But there are plenty of practical ways in which a parent can make them feel more calm and comfortable with the transition into a new environment. Don’t worry though, because we’re here to confront the issues that come up when moving with a toddler. So here are some tips on how to move with a toddler and transform it into a pleasant journey for your kid.

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See also: How Does Moving Affect Children

How To Make Positive Associations With The Move

Attempting to move from your old home into your new one is something that cannot be hidden from a toddler’s eyes. The sight of multiple boxes lying around the house, with everything getting packed up is enough to make them curious. It is possible to keep them occupied by building forts and castles out of the boxes. But then again, ignoring the big elephant in the room for long isn’t the ideal way to go about things. Hence, it is necessary to start bringing positive associations with the move before the boxes come in. Here are few tricks that you can use to do so:

1. Buy Books Designed To Make Kids Understand What Moving Is

Moving homes is stressful and the whole concept of relocation can be a tough one for kids to process. However, there are simple ways in which you can introduce them to what moving homes really means. One of the ways to educate your tiny one about a move is show them picture books with their favorite characters moving homes. A picture book that takes on the storyline of relocation will be able to provide some context to your kid about what it means to pack up and leave for a completely new home. By reading out the book to them, they would slowly begin to grasp hold of the huge concept of relocation. Fortunately, there are thousands of books out there curated to help toddlers understand what moving is. Here is a list of few of the books that we’d recommend getting:

  • The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • The Good-Pie Party by Liz Garton Scanlon and Kady MacDonald Denton
  • My New Home By Marta Altes
  • Tigger’s Moving Day by Kathleen W. Zoehfeld and Robbin Cuddy
  • Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood
  • Boomer’s Big Day by Constance W. McGeorge and Mary Whyte
  • A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn
  • Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst
  • Moving House by Anne Civardi
  • I Like Where I Am by Jessica Harper

Overall, by showing your kid sweet and fun pictures about moving, they will be able to anticipate the chaos that comes with moving. Most of these books have pictorial representation of the moving stress put across in a fun and entertaining way. Overall, your kiddo would be less overwhelmed about seeing so many cardboard boxes at home and also helps them understand why each room is getting empty everyday.

2. Introduce Your Toddler To The New Home

Well, this mainly applies in cases where the move is for a shorter distance, all while having the opportunity to drive by your new place. You can then opt to make your kid get accustomed to the new environment. Show them their new room and explain to them that they get to pick the color of the wall or arrange their toys the way they’d like it to be.

See also: How to Pack Toys for Moving

You can also choose to drive them around nearby parks, playgrounds and fun activity areas to  warm them up to the vibe of the new place. If you can’t really drive to the new place, you don’t have to worry. You can still convince them of the place by showing them pictures of the home and nearby areas. Try to build a story around the pictures you show, so that your toddler is able to build an image of the new room.

Depending on how your toddler is reciprocating to the change, you could also consider taking them for a tour of their future preschool. It’s possible that they could get excited about something as simple as a sandbox they see on the preschool tour and that eventually gets them feeling pumped about moving.

3. Involve Your Toddler In The Move

It’s alright to give your child some control of the move. After you’ve announced the move, you can ask your toddlers inputs on certain things. For instance, ask them about what they’d like to donate while purging things in their room. If you’re brave enough to, you could also ask them to pick out the paint color for the walls of their room. However, go easy with how much involvement is required or you could land yourself in trouble for not keeping the promises you make. Also, since you won’t be able to always keep them company while you’re busy packing boxes, you must plan ways to keep your toddler busy. You could perhaps ask them to decorate their moving box (when it’s empty). Plan out some activities for them so you have your own space while packing or even attending important phone calls.

We believe that now you must have at least some idea on how you can help your toddler embrace the relocation process in a more positive light. With that being said, let’s understand what else you should bear in mind while moving with a toddler.

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Ways To Ease The Move with Toddlers

1. Plan Out A Packing Area

Even before you begin the packing process, ensure that you’re creating a safe environment for your toddler. You don’t want them to be in a situation where they’re running between your legs, while you’re emptying out glass bowls and plates from your kitchen. Hence, chalk out a packing zone in advance. You’re most likely going to need a functional kitchen to prepare daily meals, so you could choose to pick an area that you don’t really use that often. 

Keep in mind that you want your kid to stay away from the packing area at all times, so make sure you’ve set some ground rules for your toddler. When it comes to packing, another tip we’d like to share is to pack up your toddlers room last. Simply because they might throw a fit about not having enough toys around. Since you can’t really keep opening boxes for things they are missing to calm them down, it is advisable to pack your little one’s room last.

2. Purge Or Donate Old Toys, Books And Clothes

Kids surely enjoy scattering their toys all over the floor. Because of which, when it’s time to declutter your toddler’s room, you may find yourself giving your back a really hard time. From sorting out the tiny lego sets to the craft boxes and the comparatively larger game boxes, it can be stressful to get around packing everything. Hence, it’s best to take a look at one section at a time, and begin with things your toddler barely uses.

It could be toys they’ve grown to hate as well as clothes that don’t fit anymore. Create boxes for donation and involve your child in the items that you wish to donate. It’s alright to ask them what should go and what should stay. Kids as young as 3 years love to involve themselves, and you’ll probably be surprised at how much they would like to donate once they understand what it means. It’s true that young minds have big hearts.

Books, toys and clothes may have a good chance of a second life so do give it a thought before tossing it away. Find local NGOs and charities in need of toys, baby clothes and more. Trust us, you don’t want to be carrying more weight on the rental truck, so it’s best to purge things that your toddler no longer would use.

See also: 5 Charities for Donation Pick ups

3. Ask For Help

When moving day comes knocking at your door, you’ll most likely be juggling a ton of things. It’s possible that you’ll feel like you’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest and have no idea how to tackle everything at once. Hence, even before moving day, save yourself the stress of managing your kids and request a friend or relative to help you out.

Have a conversation with them about the moving date well in advance so that they don’t feel like you’ve sprung up on them with this request. Your friends and relatives may have work obligations and commitments too. So, by giving them a heads up, you’re giving them some time to prepare to help you too. If you have a babysitter your child is comfortable with, you could also opt to book the sitter so that you can give your full attention to the move.

4. Pack An Essentials Bag

It is necessary to pack an overnight bag with essentials that would last you for 3-4 days, depending on how far your new home will be. There’s a high chance of getting exhausted with the move and you won’t really be unpacking boxes immediately. There are few things your toddler needs often and must be kept separately in an overnight bag. Below is a list of items that you should ideally pack in the essentials bag:

  • Your toddler’s favorite blankie or soft toy
  • Most read story books during bedtime
  • Sipper or bottle of water
  • Sunscreen and glares (or extra coats depending on the weather)
  • 3 or 4 change of clothes
  • Coloring books with crayons (or any other playpack)
  • Few of their favorite snacks
  • Games installed on ipad to keep them busy
  • Bath items
  • Medications

The essentials bag is to an extent a survival bag, until you and your family settle in the new space. Ensure that you’re packing separate essential bags for yourself too.

5. Establish Normality Post The Move

After a successful move to your new place, your first priority is to establish a sense of home and normality for your toddler. You can achieve this by setting up their room first and helping them maintain the same routine they followed back home. Try to stick to the same schedule followed for brushing, taking a bath, having meals, storytime, sing song session and playtime. You also take your toddler for a quick stroll around the new parks and playgrounds to uplift their mood with the change. 

Another tip we’d like to share is to place items in their rooms in a similar fashion to their old room. For instance, place the night lamp where it was placed before. Keeping familiar items in the same position will surely help your kid adjust to the new room. There could be a chance that your toddler no longer remembers where the bathroom or the kitchen is situated, so allow them to take some time to figure things out.

Be prepared for a couple of odd times when they want to go back to their new home. Remember to remain open to hearing things out from their perspective. Work towards creating a play space that is comfortable and cozy, so that they feel at home. And preparing comfort foods that they enjoy most are some of the other tiny ways to make your toddler grow into loving their new space.

6. Install Internet And TV Services

We sure do know that this tip might defeat the purpose of reducing screen time for your kid. But it really can be tough to unpack and get administrative tasks completed, while your toddler is bored. With the help of the internet and TV, you could probably get some more time to deal with other things that need your attention. It can also keep a bored child busy for a good period until you finish other time sensitive tasks.

You could plan for this by getting your cable and internet services installed immediately after your move. Depending on where you’re moving, it might take days or weeks to find the right internet provider and TV services, so try and do a little research on this. The more this gets delayed, the more pressure you would have to find ways to keep your child busy. The internet is truly a lifesaver to keeping toddlers distracted (to an extent) and it could also help you complete your tasks with ease.

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Conclusion

Moving homes with a toddler is not a child’s play, but there are different solutions to keep kids comfortable and entertained with the move. It is important to be there to comfort them and their feelings. Take adequate time and measures to make the move favorable and safe for your child. Things won’t entirely be trouble-free, but by breaking down the complications that come with moving with kids, you would be able to feel more confident about your child adjusting to the big move.

See also: Tips for Moving with Kids

Frequently Asked Questions about Moving with a Toddler

Can moving affect a toddler?

Moving can affect a child’s emotional well being and social world as the child will have to adapt to a new place altogether. The child may feel sad to leave the previous school and friends and this can cause anxiety problems. That’s why you have to prepare your child by getting him/her acquainted with neighbors or by throwing a housewarming party.

Is moving stressful for toddlers?

Moving can be stressful especially for toddlers and may affect their emotional and social behaviours. The atmosphere around them is likely to influence their mood and behaviors. That’s why parents have to be calm during the move and get the child acquainted with the new place. One of the best ways to do this is by involving the child in the moving process like asking the child to help you pack the toys.

How do you move house with a toddler?

The first thing you need to do is talk to your child about the move in advance. To help your child get acquainted with the move, you can sort out the toys with the help of your child. It’s good if you have some relatives around to help you so that the child sees familiar faces and you also get some extra helping hands. On the day of the move, make sure you don’t leave your child alone at any time. Don’t forget to pack an essentials bag with your child’s snacks, water, toys and medicines.

How do toddlers react to moving?

Toddlers may feel really helpless while moving as the very experience of leaving their home, neighbors and friends can be really traumatic. There are a lot of things that you need to take care of during your move, especially on your moving day. Any slight change in the routine may affect your toddlers and so you need to pay special attention to them.

Can moving as a child be traumatic?

Moving can be really traumatic for a child especially if the child is not familiar with the different things involved with the move. The unfamiliar faces, packing and moving of things and new environment can really overwhelm the child. So it’s important for parents to talk to their child about the move well in advance.

Can moving often affect a child’s development?

Moving can affect a child’s development, especially the emotional development as the child has to learn to leave familiar surroundings and people. Then they also have to learn to adapt to a new city, social circle, school, friends and even neighbors. This can make the child angry or anxious and affect their social skills. That’s why parents need to talk to their children and be patient and calm while the child expresses his/her feelings about the move.

How do I prepare my toddler for a new home?

One of the best ways to prepare your toddler for the move is by making the move sound exciting by telling fun stories about the new place. When you start packing the things, assure your child that you are moving them to a better place and not throwing away anything.

How do you settle a toddler into a new home?

One of the best ways to help your child settle in a new home is by sticking to the child’s routine. You can first sort your child’s room and help the child get comfortable with the new place. Make sure that you have sorted and arranged all your child’s belongings, especially the toys. You can take a tour of the new home with your child and get acquainted with the neighbors. Throwing a housewarming party will also help the child get familiar with your new neighbors and friends.

See also: Tips for Moving Homes with a Newborn