Moving with Babies and Toddlers: Minimize the Stress
Moving is a stressful, anxious time for even the most organized adult. Add children – particularly very young children – to the mix, and the stress triples. Fortunately, with a little preplanning, there are some steps you can take to ensure the moving process goes a little more smoothly, even with very young children in tow.
Pack the child’s possessions last. Children use familiar objects such as toys, books, blankets, and stuffed animals as touchstones for reassurance. Seeing beloved possessions dumped into a box and taped up can be distressing and even frightening. If you can, leave the packing of the child’s room for last. Keep your child’s most beloved possessions out of the box and within arm’s reach, even if they have to ride in the backseat of your vehicle to your new home in a tote bag. Likewise, once you reach your new home, unpack your child’s room first.
Consider hiring a babysitter. On the days leading up to the move, household life will be chaotic and stressful. Young children may be upset at seeing their familiar, comforting homes upended, strangers in the house and beloved possessions put into boxes. If you can afford it, consider hiring childcare to distract children from the chaos and keep them happy with fun activities. An additional benefit to this is it will leave parents free to concentrate on the tasks needed for a successful move.
Build a comfortable, familiar “fort” in your new home. If you have a Pack n’ Play that your child is familiar with, be sure it’s one of the things you set up first in your new home. Surround the child with familiar objects so the new location doesn’t seem quite as alien to the child. This way, your child can get used to their new surroundings more gradually.
Baby-proof your new home carefully. New homes may come with a variety of dangers for young children. Be sure to put a safety plug in all outlets. Also, examine the home carefully for hazardous wires, sharp corners, stone hearths, hazardous chemicals in reachable places, slippery floors and dangling cords from blinds or other window treatments. You knew your former house intimately. Take the time to acquaint yourself carefully with the trouble spots in your new home before you let young children walk free. The nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide has an online checklist that can help you ensure you don’t miss anything.
Transport your child in your vehicle. While it may seem exciting to ride in a rental truck, many of these vehicles do not have the equipment necessary to keep young children safe. In addition, the child will benefit from the feeling of safety and familiarity that your own vehicle provides.
Adopt a calming and soothing demeanor. While it may be difficult in the midst of a stressful move, remaining calm and reassuring around your child will help them understand the move is not something to be scared of. If you’re anxious, your child will be anxious.
Consider hiring professionals. Professional movers can make the process far less stressful, and they can usually accomplish the move in far less time than a do-it-yourself job. This way, you’ll have more time to help your child or children acclimatize successfully to a new location.