Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tips for Packing and Moving with a Toddler and/or Infant

The past few months have been a stressful struggle for our little family. In July we decided to put our beloved first home on the market. We knew that it would be difficult, but it was the right decision for our family and our future. My biggest concern about the move, was keeping life as stable and normal for our three year old and our 8 month old. By the time it was time to start packing up the house, we had devised some plans to help make the transition a bit smoother for the both of them. Some of them worked out, some didn't.

Liam and His First Home
I want to share our experiences with other parents, because moving is a huge change for adults, but it is life-altering for little ones, and if we can help others make it easier for their kiddos, at least our struggles were not for nothing. Here is a list of things that helped our boys with the transition, as well as some information about the things that did not work out so well. I have also come up with some "next time" tips that we are hoping to implement when we move from our rental into our forever home.

What Worked for Packing/Preparing for the Move:

*Talk About the Move as Far in Advance as Possible: As soon as we had an offer on our home, we started talking to both boys (even the 8 month old) about the move. We were careful that every comment about the move be a positive one, even when we were not talking to the kids. If we were stressed out about it, we had that talk when the boys were in bed.

*Pack up Kids Stuff in Waves: We started packing about a month before the move, but we packed in waves, meaning the first time we packed up kids supplies, it was just the things that we didn't think they would miss or use. The next wave, we packed a few more toys, but still made sure to leave out their favorites. We packed clothes and blankets, but once again, not the ones they used the most. The third, and final wave, was done just a couple of days before the move, but we made sure to leave one box with the favorites of the favorites, open in the living room. That way they were "packed" and easy to grab when it was time to go, but the boys still felt like they could access them.

*Store Packed Boxes Out of Sight: Out of sight out of mind. If there are boxes all over the house, it will be a constant reminder that their life is changing. We kept all of our packed boxes in the garage, so that the boys wouldn't see them constantly, and they wouldn't get into them over and over again.

Helping Mommy and Daddy Pack
*Involve the Kids in the Packing: We gave Liam a box to pack every time we packed. He had so much fun choosing what to put into the box. He packed and re-packed the same box several times. It made him feel like he had some control over the packing process, and he felt as though he was helping mommy and daddy. I think that this was one of the best things we tried!

*Try to Help Them Understand: As the move got closer, our discussions about it got more serious. We made sure to keep it positive, but we were also very factual about what would happen when we moved, so that there were no surprises when the time came.

*Include Them in the House-Hunting Process: Every time we went to look at a possible rental property, we took the boys along. We asked Liam's opinion on each of the houses, let him roam the homes on his own, and talked with him afterwards about what he would like about living there and what he wouldn't.

*Reading on the Subject: We made many trips to the library to find books about moving. Liam loved ready the special moving books before bed and in the mornings. It was also a great way to start conversations about what moving would be like.

What Didn't:

*Taking Pictures of Liam's Old Room: We knew that leaving his beautiful, special dinosaur bedroom would be the hardest for all of us. We thought that taking pictures of the room and giving them to Liam may help him to remember his old room, however, so far looking at them just makes him sad. He doesn't seem to have a difficult time with the move, except when he looks at these pictures. So although, every kiddo is different, this would not be suggestion I would give.

*Bringing up the Move All the Time: We tried very hard to prepare the boys for the move by being honest and discussing it a great deal before moving day, however, there were times where it felt like that made it worse. My suggestion for this would be, talk about it often, but if your son/daughter is having a particularly sensitive day, don't bring it up. If they do, great, talk away, but don't push the subject on them.

Moving Day Tips:

*Farm Out the Kiddos: Although you definitely want the kids to be there for part of the moving process, it is stressful, and it may be better that they are not there when you are anxious. We were lucky enough to have great friends who took Liam to a birthday party for most of moving day. We still made absolutely sure that he was there for some of it, so that he wouldn't leave, then come home to a brand new, very strange situation. But it was wonderful to be able to move without the added distraction of a toddler, and I'm positive it was good for him to not see mommy and daddy stress about the move.

Saying Goodbye to His Room
*Make Sure that They are a Part of the Move: This goes along with the last tip. We had Liam help us load the truck until he was on his way to the party, and when he returned he helped once again. This made the transition a fluid one, not an abrupt change from the familiar.

*Say Goodbye to the Old House: The day after we moved most of our stuff, we went back to our old house, just the four of us, and took some time to wander the house, talk about our memories, and say goodbye. I think that this was key in helping Liam with the transition.

*Have Snacks at the Ready: Make sure that you know where some choice snacks are located at all times!

What Didn't:

*Expecting it to go Smoothly: Moving never goes as planned. We were extremely organized before the day of, but once we got going all crap hit the fan, and we all went into survival mode, including the kids. There were temper tantrums and meltdowns.

*Moving During Other Transitions: We made this mistake....big time! I'm a teacher, so I went back to work after months at home with my boys, just weeks before the big move. We also decided to put Liam into preschool the same month. I know that at this point, Liam has adjusted to being a big brother, but that's still pretty new too. This was the biggest mistake we could have made. Liam focused a lot of his transitional frustration on preschool, which resulted in almost a month pf daily tears, but once we moved and were settled in our new home, it was like a light was flipped. Every day has been fantastic since! Do your best not to make this mistake, cause it's a doozy!

Tips for Next Time:

*Bedroom Set Up: This is one we fully planned to do, but it got lost in the chaos of the day. Pack up the kiddos rooms last, preferably the day of when they are off doing something fun. Then make it first priority in the new house. Our goal was to have Liam's room completely unpacked and set up before he returned from the birthday party. Most of the big things were in place, but we lost some boxes in the shuffle, so next time, we'll be far more conscience of where things are going.

*Family Camp-Out: For the first night in our new home, we plan to have a camp-out in the living room. We'll make it as fun as possible to help make the new house feel like home as quickly as possible. As many ways as you can find to make it a positive experience for the kids, the easier the transition will be.

*Plan a Busy Weekend Outside of the Home: Plan for the kids to do fun things outside of the home for most of the first weekend. That way the house is set up and "normal" as quickly as possible, and you won't feel quite as stressed about unpacking. Once again, the less stress the kiddos see about the move, the better!

Our Last Family Photo in Our 1st Home
I hope that these tips help you in your moving, packing, and unpacking situations!

1 comment:

  1. It’s really hard to move from your old home and let go, because of the good memories that you've had while living there. But I think it’s better to pack your things up in one go, rather than doing it one by one. The reason is that it won’t prolong the agony of leaving the house; and it also keeps you from forgetting things that might slip in your reminder notes. All the best!

    Thelma Bowman @ Quality Strapping Inc.