Before I begin, I’m not implying that I have all the answers, nor that what worked for me will work for you, but you never know, maybe my advice to transitioning to a new house with a toddler will be just what you need. Or, maybe it will just make you feel that it’s possible to do something insanely stressful with toddler in tow. Whatever you get out of it is up to you. For me, the last month has been insanely crazy. Stress of not selling our apartment, stress at settlement, stress at packing, stress, stress, stress! The idea of potentially having weeks of sleepless nights as missy adjusted to a new house was horrendous. So, here’s my advice based on what we did.
Tell the toddler
Pretty much as soon as we started looking for a house we began to prepare missy for the fact that we might move, that we might find “her house” and “her room”. It even led me to believe that fate was going to step in when missy refused to leave a house because she loved it so much – unfortunately, it did not and that house went for 200k over asking price. It did mean that by the time we moved in we had done the groundwork, and missy was even excited about her new bedroom. Oh, a book about a new house helped things along too!
Related: Books for 18-month-olds
Get them out of the way
Packing with toddlers is not a great idea. They love “helping”. So much “helping”. “Helping” leads to boxes being unpacked, bags being messed up and, inevitably, tears – from both you and the toddler. For us, we did some packing while she slept, but the bulk of the move came on a childcare day. We ferried bags full of stuff from our place to the new place, unpacking as we went, achieving most of it in eight hours. It’s amazing what a potential toddler tantrum can motivate you to do!
Get the bedroom ready
For us, the important part of the move was making little miss feel comfortable. We didn’t care if we were sleeping on the floor and eating cereal out of a paper cup, we wanted missy to have a room full of her comforts. Our number one priority was filling the room with toys, drawers, chairs, rugs, and everything else that came with her own room. A move is so much easier when your favourite doll has done it with you. Add to that her own crockery and cutlery (no paper cups for her) and it was like she never moved!
No matter how comfortable you make everything it’s not easy moving to another environment, even for grown ups – we spent the first two nights wide awake as new noises had us checking the front door a dozen times. And, yes, exploring a new environment is fun for a toddler, but it’s so much more fun when mum and dad aren’t distracted, when they’re exploring with said toddler. We saved most of the cleaning for when missy was asleep. Yes, it takes longer … a lot longer, but it meant she felt excited and loved at a time when she could have been uncertain and maybe even scared.
Now I’ve made it sound like smooth sailing and … it kinda was. Sure, it took a few nights to have missy sleep all the way through (but to be fair, it did with me too) but that was it. The move was great and now we have our beautiful family home to stack full of memories.
Side note: This piece was written about a week before I published it. Of course, since then we have endured endless sleepless night as missy deals with bronchitis (partly blamed on the new climate of the new house), but I’ll take my wins where I can get them!