Moving House with a Toddler

15 Jul

Now that we have been in our new house for two weeks already, I’m beginning to feel like the dust is in the process of settling. Not quite settled yet, but getting there. (My box room is utterly living up to its name.) When it became clear that we would be moving, I did some reading to find out how best to prepare my daughter for the upheaval of moving house. This is what I found out:

  • It can be helpful to read books about moving house in order to let toddlers understand the concept. I meant to do this, but never actually got round to it because money was so tight. There are plenty of interesting-looking books on Amazon though.
  • Start packing well in advance, but not too early or you’ll have to dig stuff out again. I started off very gently 4 weeks before the big day and stayed quite relaxed.
  • Take photos of your toddler in each room of the old place, so for example a photo waving from the front door, a photo brushing teeth in the bathroom, a photo playing in the sitting room, sitting at the dining table, lying in bed with cuddly toys, perhaps a photo of mummy cooking in the kitchen, and so on. These photos can be printed out and hung up at the new place  so that you can talk about the changes with your child.
  • Order an online food shop for the new address, including a bottle of bubbly and some treaty food to celebrate.
  • Keep toys and books out until the last day. All my daughter’s toys belong in a specific bucket (they’re usually all over the floor of course), which I kept out as well. Her dad, who helped an enormous amount with our move, very kindly took these and her play kitchen over to the new house after her bedtime on the last evening in the old flat so that they definitely wouldn’t get lost.
  • Do the main part while your toddler is away at nursery or visiting friends or relatives. This is crucial! My daughter had some moments of upset when I was packing things away and dismantling furniture, and I don’t want to imagine how she might have felt to see her home gradually empty and familiar objects disappear. Plus obviously if you’re actively taking part on moving day, as I did, it’s far easier not to have to keep a little one amused and happy.
  • Sort out children’s areas and kitchen first: bedroom and sitting room are probably the rooms my daughter spends most time in, so I focused on these first. I put her bed together (big girl bed now, no longer a cot, so the baby days stayed at the old flat) and sorted out her chest of drawers and all her familiar bedroom bits. I arranged the sitting room in such a way that it would be usable and recognisable, and unpacked most kitchen items so that I would be able to cook meals with no complications. I even managed to put together the dining area with the usual tablecloth and floormat so that we were able to eat dinner in the normal way when my daughter returned from her dad’s who had picked her up from nursery after lunch.
  • Stairgates! Check if they fit. Mine didn’t, so I had to rely on a cobbled-together emergency solution and a quick dash to the next big supermarket by my daughter’s dad (he really was very helpful).
  • Keep the same routine. The more familiarity you can maintain, the more safe your toddler is likely to feel.
  • Expect changes in behaviour. It is a massive upheaval for little ones. More about this possibly in another post soon.
  • And finally: pay for professional help! Accept all the help you are offered. I hired two men and a van who seemed very popular in my area (council’s trusted trader etc.) and was also joined by my daughter’s dad and a friend. They were amazing. In the time in which we filled a small car with fragile things they filled a whole van with a sofa, washing machine, big chest of drawers and countless boxes. Nothing got broken and they were extremely quick. I wasn’t even tired at the end of the day! Or stressed! I’m not exaggerating.
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