Moving house can be a very stressful time for anyone. The whole process, from looking at houses, to putting in an offer, to sorting your paperwork and finally getting the keys can be one big long 6 month (or more!) headache – and that’s if you have a smooth process! Now, if you’re moving house with a toddler as well, you may find yourself tearing your hair out before you can say “now we’ve got to pack“. Then you have to deal with moving day itself….
Having just gone through this experience myself, here are my 5 top tips for moving house with a toddler in tow:
1.Take your toddler to the house before the move if you can, and talk to them about the move in advance
If you are able to, take your toddler to the new house before you complete, to show them where you’ll be living and things that will be different in the new house. For example, we had a garden, and stairs in the new place as we moved from a flat, so these were all new and different things to Alfie! We talked to him about the move a lot in advance, and nursery also talked to him about it and told him he’d be getting a new house soon. I think this really helped the transition not seem so daunting to him.
2. Have someone look after your toddler while you move
When it comes to moving day, having a 2 year old running around you is really not what you are going to want or need. Indeed, in the run up to the move, when you are trying to have a clear out and pack up all your worldly goods, it’s really not ideal. But on the actual moving day, find someone to look after your child/children. We were lucky we moved on a weekday, so Alfie was at nursery, but I would have begged family/friends to have him if that hadn’t of been the case! If you don’t have anyone to have your child, I would go as far as to suggest one of the parents miss moving day and take the child out for the day and let the other one move everything in for you (actually, that sounds like an ideal solution to me, fun day out for you, and you come home to all the heavy lifting having been done…)
3. Make sure the kids rooms are ready as a priority
Do everything you can to ensure your toddler’s room is going to be ready for them to sleep in on the first night at the new house, and try to make it look as familiar to them as possible. We dumped all the boxes in the spare room, the loft and the garage so we could keep our bedroom and Alfie’s bedroom clear. We made sure we put familiar items in his room, like his bed, his changing table and his toy box, and kept his pyjamas and teddy handy for a smooth bedtime. I also kept a fresh set of sheets handy so I could change his bed so it was nice and clean. If you use a stair gate, make sure you have all the bits to put it up straight away so you know he’ll be safe in his new bedroom (we DIDN’T do this, which meant Alfie spent the first three nights in our bed whilst we hunted for the stair gate attachments as I was too worried about him getting up at night and falling down the stairs!) It actually worked out quite well him sleeping in our bed, so I’d also say be open to that arrangement if it helps them feel safe and secure in a strange new environment.
4. Let them “help” unpack the boxes
Pack a box of your toddler’s stuff specifically for them to help you unpack. You could put their favourite toys and clothes in it, plus things they’ll recognise like a favourite blanket or teddy. Then once you’re in the house, sit in their bedroom and ask for their help to unpack it. They’ll get excited seeing all their favourite and familiar items, and it will distract them from all the new surroundings that they might be struggling with.
5. Keep to their routine
Moving house is really stressful for everyone, and you will want to try and unpack everything as quickly as possible. However, if you can bear it, leave the unpacking and try to keep to the normal bedtime routine. Once you have picked your toddler up from nursery or the person who has been looking after them, and you’ve shown them the house, try to keep to your usual evening routine. For us, that meant having dinner, a bath, and then putting Alfie to bed. Leave all the little jobs till the next day, or once they kids are in bed – or better yet, just sit down and enjoy a glass of wine and a takeaway after a long and stressful day!
Whilst moving can be a bit stressful, it’s also very exciting for everyone involved. We have just bought our first home together, and it’s a huge milestone for us. The transition for Alfie has gone much better than expected, and after two months of being in our house, we are finally starting to feel settled. So whilst the run up to the day you can feel like you’re losing your head a bit, know that it is temporary and it will all be worth it – I promise! Happy moving!