Moving With Toddlers
Before coming a parent, it is likely that you have moved several times.
Although the packing and unpacking can be exhausting, generally the process is relatively easy.
Moving with little ones in tow, however, is a completely different ball game.
Not only do you have MORE things to move, you also need to take into consideration your little ones routine and how they will adjust to the move and their new house and environment.
It can also be hard to know they are leaving behind friends and family and setting into new schools or daycares can also be tricky.
Moving is a fact of life, so when the time does come for you and your family, taking into consideration the below steps, tools and tricks should help to make this transition easier on your toddler and you!
Toddlers (and children in general) LOVE knowing and understanding what is happening next. Before you make the move, I strongly encourage you to talk about the move with your toddler and help to explain what this move will actually mean.
While some little ones will understand this concept, however some may need further time to really understand the changes that can come with moving, so ensure you take time to talk through these changes and what they will mean for your toddler, specifically.
Some general changes that can occur when moving are:
✖️Living in a new house, permanently.
✖️Different Way To Get Home
✖️Different Job for Mum Or Dad
✖️New House for Mum Or Dad
✖️Changes to Routine
✖️Making New Friends
✖️Not Seeing Family Or Friends As Often
If you are moving to somewhere relatively close, you may find that not much will change for your little one , expect the house. However, still be sure to prepare and talk about the move with your little one as much as possible.
You may like to use examples of family or friends who have moved, to further your little ones understanding.
If the option is available to you, take your little one with you to see the new house and have some time to explore. Explain to them that all their toys will move with them, show them the room they will have and talk about all the EXCITING and FUN things you can do in the new house, such as games, new parks and new adventures.
Ensure that your little one knows who is coming to the new house and who isn’t, so this doesn’t come as too much of a shock when the move occurs. If you are moving interstate or even overseas, going to see and spend time at the new house is likely out of the question.
Instead, you can show your little one photos or videos of the house and surrounding areas. If the area is common (say, you are moving to Sydney), you may also like to find books about Sydney and watch movies or shows (Finding Nemo is a great one!), so your little one has some visual understanding of the new area. There are often lots of tourists videos and photos online, so these are a great place to start.
If your child is worried about new friends or leaving their current friends, look at purchasing some books about making friends to help them feel comfortable and confident.
For older Toddlers, you may like to have a count-down until the move. You may like to do this simply by marking days off on the calendar, or having another similar visual representation.
During The Move
Where possible, allow your little one to “help” out. Allow them to see their toys and room being packed up and into the truck with all of mums or dad’s items, so they know they are all going off to the same place. I would also suggest to pack a “special” box for each of your children, that includes some of their favourite items and essentials. Not only will this make these items easier to locate, but will also ensure your little one has all of their comforts close with them during the process. If you are moving interstate or internationally, you may like to swap this box for a backpack or suitcase.
If you are moving away from friends or family, try to allow your little to have access to photos of these people. You can either have them in frames around the new house, or simply in a photo album or on an easy to access device (such as a phone). This way, if your little one does begin to miss them, you can always refer to these photos for some comfort.
Apps like Facetime and Skype can also be hugely helpful if your little one is having a hard time moving away from friends and family, so don’t be afraid to offer these when needed.
When you are unpacking your little ones room, try and set it up as close to how it was at their previous house. This will help for your little one to settle in easier and will also avoid getting confused and upset if they wake up and “forget” they have moved and end up tripping over furniture on their way to the door.
I would also encourage you to practice during the day (where possible) how to get to and from the bathroom and toilet safely, and where to find mum or dad overnight. I would also spend LOTS of time exploring the house, allowing your little one to play in their room and also take walks around the surrounding suburbs and areas.
Some other practical moving tips include:
✖️Allowing 2-3 weeks of packing the small stuff can make the move A LOT easier! Packing away non-essential items now, means there is far less to do on the day and last minute.
✖️Gumtree is a great place to search for second hand boxes and you will find often super cheap prices as well.
✖️If your house is within driving distance, try and move some of the smaller items yourself over the course of a few days. You can also take your little ones with you on these drives, so they have more time to familiarise themselves with the new house.
✖️Ask around with friends and families to see if they have any trailers you can borrow to move the kids beds and furniture. Having this all set up and ready to go when your little ones get there means they are able to take a nap or jump straight into bed when needed.
✖️Using towels and linen as padding can help to avoid breaks during moving.
✖️You can store empty plastic containers in the fridge when moving and also place pillows and blankets into washing machines and dryers to help save space during the move.
✖️Have extra hands available on the day! Little ones can make the process much slower, so having a friend of family member on hand to entertain the little ones can be really helpful!
✖️Also be prepared to have snacks and activities on hand for your children, during the moving process.
✖️Purchase some paper plates and cutlery. These are handy for when your in the new house and your kids are ready to eat, but you can also place a paper plate between your normal plates to avoid damage, chipping and breaking.
✖️When packing your clothes, try and leave them on the hangers, so you can take them straight out of the box and pop them up in the wardrobe. You can also purchase wardrobe boxes, so you can hang these items within the box.
✖️If you know this will be a BIG move, outsource some of the heavy lifting! You can often find people advertising their moving services on Gumtree, however there are lots of professional services available. Some will even come in, pack up your house house and unpack it into the new house.
✖️Mark every box both on the sides and on the top. This is a massive help when you are trying to locate something and they are all stacked up on-top of each other.
After The Move
Moving can be a huge transition for little ones, so it is very normal for them to show some regression in their sleep. Often the first few nights are the hardest and you may find your little one waking frequently through the night.
Where possible, remain very consistent in the way in which you respond to these wakings and keep these responses inline with what you did at your previous home. Some little ones may use this move as a chance to demand more flexibility and control and while we do want to allow for some flexibility, remaining consistent in your toddlers routine and in the sleep expectations will ensure that your little one doesn’t create any undesirable sleep habits or dependencies.
I would also allow for some further wind-down time in preparation for your little ones naps and overnight sleep. This move and new house can be very exciting, so ensuring your little one has lots of time to wind-down and settle will help to ensure they have a good nap and good overnight sleep.
Most little ones will settle into their new house after around 1-2 weeks, so just be patience and remember that your little may only ever remember one house, so a new environment will present new challenges and it is important we provide them with direction, encouragement and time to adjust.