When my eldest daughter was 18 months old, my family moved from Washington, DC to the suburbs of Seattle, Washington. The resulting upheaval in our support network was a significant inspiration for the creation of Mom Meet Mom…but even before we experienced that upheaval, we had to go through the upheaval of the move itself – not insignificant with a toddler. Here are my tips for moving with a toddler – some from things we did well, and some, in hindsight, that I wish I had done.
* call a spade a spade: Be forthright with your child, and tell her, “we are moving,” not, “we are taking a little trip.” You don’t want her to think that you’ll never go home again every time you get in the car.
* when it comes to kid stuff, pack last and unpack first: try to make sure that you maintain your child’s space as long as possible. If you have the space, consider having a small box of “essentials,” selected by your child, that you keep with you on the plane/in the car during the move. When you get to your destination, set up your child’s room first, so that he can start to rebuild trust and stability in his new home right away.
* create a memory book: or some other memento of the special things in your child’s world – friends, neighbors, favorite parks. My daughter’s was full of pictures of neighborhood dogs. Tell your child that whenever she misses the things back where you used to live, she can look at her memory book. Of course, use your best judgment – if this won’t work for your child’s personality, skip it!
* explain everything: how will you travel to your destination? How long will it take? Will you move into your new home right away, or will you stay in a hotel for a while? How will family pets get there? How will your new home look when you first get there, will it be empty, or full of boxes? Will the weather be different in your new town?
* make mom friends (and other friends) in advance: boy, did we miss on this step. The whole family was lonely after we moved! If you can, try to connect with kids of similar age and set up playdates. It takes away from unpacking time, but helps your child have something positive to look forward to after the move.
* try to maintain the routine: outside any adjustments you might need to make to accommodate changes in time zone, try to keep the same routine during travel and after the move. If there are any special props that go with your routine (particular bath toys, preferred bedtime books, etc.) make sure you know where they are and can access them easily.
* expect a mourning period: no matter how well you prepare your young child for a move, there will be times when he will feel sad and miss his old home. Try to be understanding and patient, and help teach little kids the words to express their frustrations. Be prepared for the possibility of clinginess, as well as sleep and eating difficulties, as well as behavioral regressions. Remember that your child isn’t mad at you, they are just coping with a really big change. They need your love and support!
Moving with a toddler is hard, but Mom Meet Mom is here to support you. You can use our service to connect with new friends – for you and your child – and ease the transition into your new home!