Moving long-distance with toddlers – how to prepare?

moving long-distance with toddlers
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By guest writer Daniela Coleman

Moving long-distance is difficult – but moving long-distance with toddlers can seem downright impossible. As always, the key lies in good preparation and all those little things that you can do before your moving day. Many new parents don’t know what this process entails, as it is not something that they encounter every day. For this reason, we have prepared a guide to help you successfully relocate with your child and keep stress and anxiety levels low at the same time.

1. Your routine shouldn’t change

It won’t be easy to maintain your child’s regular sleeping or napping schedule during this time. You will be swamped with your everyday obligations on top of which you will have to deal with different moving tasks. There will be days when it will be almost impossible to stick to your routine – but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Children are very fearful of the unknown, and their routine will help them feel in control and make it seem like not a lot is changing. As a parent, we are sure you will go above and beyond to ensure your child feels safe and loved.

Besides maintaining their routine, you need to talk, talk, and talk some more when moving to a distant location with a toddler. The psychological aspect of relocation is very important, and it can only be resolved with a good, long chat. So don’t wait until the last minute to inform your toddlers about the relocation. No matter how little and fragile they might seem, toddlers, especially older ones, understand a great deal of what’s being said to them. They need to come to terms with the move before it happens.

2. Hire help when moving long-distance with toddlers

Moving is a unique and life-changing situation. Moreover, it is a situation that requires a lot of assistance from third parties. From hiring movers to finding a good but affordable unit and everything in between, it will feel like you are reaching for a lifeline from every source you can. But if you are just about to move with a toddler, the most important type of help you need will come from one source – childcare services. Hiring a nanny will take some stress away from you, as well as keep your toddler safe.

Bear in mind that even a good friend or a trusted family member can serve as your eyes and ears during the moving day. As long as you have someone reliable looking after your toddlers on that big day, everything will be fine. Just imagine how much easier it will be to pack once you know your young one is taken care of. Plus, they won’t be in the way while you pack, so there will not be any disturbances that will take the focus away from what needs to be done. 

3. Be careful what you leave on the floor

Once you start packing, you will naturally be inclined to get rid of as many things as possible. In a ‘normal’ situation in which there are no kids involved, you would just throw your items on the floor and leave them there until you decide where to put them. However, when dealing with kids and toddlers, you have to be very careful with their wandering hands and exploratory attitudes. If you leave an item on the floor and your toddler is crawling around, chances are he/she will pick it up, which opens up a plethora of different ways how they could hurt themselves. This is especially important to remember when cleaning your house before the move. Don’t leave any cleaning supplies in a place that could be within your child’s reach.

Instead, if you must clean your house or take care of any other task your toddler shouldn’t be involved in, you can always put him/her in a high chair and give them a toy to play with. Every parent knows how much toys can help with a child’s development, apart from keeping them occupied for the time being. It’s easy to see how this is a win-win situation for both the parent and the child. Of course, you can always opt for cleaning services if you feel like splurging and saving your time. But if money is an issue, then a lot of caution is advised. 

4. Leave the packing of your toddler’s belongings for the very end

Packing for a move is one very long, very arduous process. It might be tempting to first pack up and put away all of those peculiar baby items before moving onto the kitchen and living room. But what do you plan to do once your toddler starts throwing a tantrum and you have nothing to calm him/her with? The last thing you need is to go through a bunch of moving boxes just to be able to find your child’s blanket or their favorite toy. So when moving long-distance with toddlers, hold off your urge to pack up their items until the very end. It will save hours of your precious time.

On the other hand, don’t wait for too long. Start packing non-essential items, such as your toddler’s seasonal clothing and their old baby stuff a few weeks before the move. Once you only have essential items left behind, it will be easy to pack them the day before the move.

5. Prepare an essentials moving box for your toddler

No matter how quick you are at unpacking, and no matter how well you pack, that first night in your new home can be very hectic. The entire family will be tired, you will want to lie down, and your toddler will want to be entertained. So imagine what would happen if they end up needing a diaper change, and you can’t find one. Or if they are screaming for their favorite toy that you can’t find until you rummage through dozens of moving boxes. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to prevent this situation. 

Gather the most crucial items you know your toddler needs daily. This can include diapers, bottles, pacifiers, toys, and anything you can think of. Put all of those items in one bag which will serve as a sort of a first-aid kit. Once you arrive at your new home, you won’t have to spend an hour searching for a fresh set of clothes – they will be right within your reach. 

6. Unpack their bedroom/nursery first

Toddlers, as little as they seem, definitely love to stick to what’s known. And the thing they know best is the feeling of safety they have once in their room, surrounded by all things familiar. If you have arrived at your new home, we can only assume that you are overwhelmed by all the moving boxes that are scattered around. If you don’t know which ones to reach for, make sure it’s the ones that contain your toddler’s items. The reason for this is the same as the reason for packing your toddler’s belongings at the very end – you’ll want to be able to quickly find your toddler’s most precious items.

Besides, with the nursery all set and ready, you will have a safe place for your toddler while you deal with the post-moving mess. And if you have ever relocated before, you already have an image of yourself surrounded by a bunch of unopened moving boxes that need to be unpacked. Not a pleasant sight.

7. Childproof your home as soon as you arrive

Keeping your toddler safe after a long-distance move can be quite a challenge. Little kids love to explore, which might put them in a lot of danger around the house. That’s why it’s of paramount importance to childproof your new home as soon as you arrive. Even though it’s recommended to do it before the move, it might be challenging as you don’t live nearby. 

Speaking of your child’s safety, it’s important to mention that you shouldn’t leave them alone in a room that’s filled with moving boxes, especially if they are stacked one on top of the other. Some of them might fall and end up seriously injuring your little one. If possible, it would be best to have someone look after your little one while you unpack. But if that’s not an option, then you need to keep your eyes wide open.

8. Arm yourself with patience

In the end, the most important ingredient will be patience. This process will be very challenging for both the parents and the toddlers, and it will be littered with obstacles along the way. To successfully overcome those obstacles, you will need to have a lot of patience, as well as an understanding of your child’s tantrums. But once the entire family is settled into your new home, all of the problems you have faced will seem insignificant.

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