1) Pre-Game Chat and Pack. Let your child help pack up her own things. She will take them out of the box again for sure so you can just let it happen like a game or act quickly with tape! Tour the new home with your child if you can, before the move. Talk for multiple days about what moving is and what to expect as you are packing up boxes. Be honest about why the family is moving. Ask how your child feels about moving. If the child is not excited about moving, see if another kid you know who has moved could talk about it with your child. Recount times in your childhood that your own family moved homes.
2) Secure Childcare a week or more in advance for the periods of time that furniture and boxes will be transferred. Then secure a back-up childcare option like leaving the little one with neighbors. It can be dangerous to have little ones around during this time, not to mention annoying. Sort of like when you’re trying to take out a giant armful of recycling and the cat wants to play footsie zig-zag and you step on her toe barely and she screams bloody kitty murder but you have very little sympathy. If it is your child, you might have a hard time forgiving yourself and your child might have a hard time forgiving you for the foot stomp or the head bonk. Also, you are likely to go against all normal gentle parenting logic and YELL at your children to be out of the way for their own safety. You will also feel guilty for that. If you hire professional movers and your kids are around, the movers might get very cranky and break something seemingly on purpose. It happened to a friend of mine. Hire childcare.
3) Pack a duffle bag or backpack for each child with pajamas, two outfits and an activity or three. Beading, markers, coloring book, journal, bag of legos, etc. You THINK that the move will happen on time but it WON’T. You THINK you will have energy to unpack once everything is all in the new house but you certainly will feel deader than a doornail- like you just gave birth again but without the oxytocin. When a parent friend offers to help with your move, you can ask them to watch your kid, or you can ask them to make a cool activity bag for your child to use before the boxes are unpacked.
4) Move the children’s rooms first and make up the bed. Include ALL of the STUFFIES. Don’t leave ANY of the stuffed animals in the box because I swear that first night your child will insist she can only sleep if she has the one animal you cannot find. I learned this one the hard way. Three days later and still no Lou the Fox. Leave out two comforting old books for bedtime. This will ease your child’s transition into the new home. But don’t open all the boxes of toys because you will instead…
5) Leave the other boxes of your child’s stuff unpacked for your kids to open. The next day when you have four cups of black tea and are finally ready to begin unpacking, you will want your child to have something to do so that you can put away the good china in peace. It will be like Christmas!! (If you want it to be like Hanukkah, you can save one box of toys or books for each night 😉
6) Give your child a sense of agency and ownership by letting him help decide where things go- both in his room and other places around the home. Ask your 3-year-old’s opinion if you are torn about whether the chair should go there..or there. Can you put non-toxic cleaning supplies in a place with easy kid access? Can a low kitchen drawer be for children’s bowls and utensils a la’ Montessori method?
7) Tour the House Before Bed. On the first couple of nights, make sure your young children have a quick tour of the house again. Where is the POTTY? Do we need a nightlight? Where can you find your parents if you need them? I would start out trying for the kiddos sleeping in their own beds in the new house if they are used to sleeping alone. Sleeping in your child’s bed with him if he is scared in the new room is a great idea if you don’t want to start the crawling into the parent bed from the get-go. Or if you all co-sleep- keep doing that. Though a transition to a new home can also be a great time to transition into a big kid bed if you are willing to be present and supporting your child that night.
Special Note: Moving is really the perfect time to use screen time to keep the tushies in one place and out of the way. It’s okay, I’m not big on screen time but moving is one of those areas where it makes sense as a special activity. The Easy Bake Oven App made it all possible for me this time around. Totally sugar-free! But try to resist getting in on that yummy-tease action lest you be derailed from unpacking!
Love, Moorea SavvyParentingSupport.com