15 Things That Lessen the Stress of Moving With Toddlers

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So you’re moving. With small kids. Congrats!

My husband’s new job just took our family from Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts. Schlepping our lives 3000 miles across the country was a big undertaking for us adults – and an even bigger deal for our just-turned-three-year-old son.

We knew we wanted to do this move the right way for him. Here are a few tricks we discovered (some intentionally, some through trial and error) that might help to smooth the process for you and your little ones, too.

1 | When you first share the news, draw pictures of their new room together. What color will they paint the walls? How are they going to decorate? Where will the bed go? Let them share in the excitement as they look forward to making it their own.

2 | Print out a paper calendar of the month leading up to the move and cross off each day as it passes. This can make the few weeks’ worth of “lasts” (e.g. last day of school, last sleep at the old house) and “firsts” (e.g. first airplane flight, first day at their new childcare) feel more manageable.

3 | Check out library books about moving. We found a few favorites that emphasized the adventure and excitement of moving to a new home – try “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day,” or “The GoodPie Party,” for starters. Keep an eye out for the negative ones, though. Some, like “Little Critter: We Are Moving” or “Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going To Move” introduced feelings of fear, resistance, and dread that our son wasn’t otherwise feeling. No need to go there if they’re not already feeling angst-y.

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4 | Ship favorite puzzles, toys, and books ahead of time so the kids have something to play with when you arrive. We packed a suitcase full of beloved toys and games and shipped it before leaving Oregon. Our moving truck took two weeks to drive cross-country, but we flew eastward in just one day, so it was wonderfully helpful that our little guy already had familiar books and puzzles to play with while his father and I were unpacking and settling into our new place.

5 | Never ever ever take a redeye or it will mess with their sleep for a week afterward. We made this mistake and regretted it immediately. Even though an overnight flight feels efficient, if your kid is anything like mine he’ll be so delighted and overstimulated watching airplane movies at 2 a.m. that he’ll miss a solid night of sleep. And everyone will suffer from dealing with a tired, cranky kid (and family) for days to come. Sleep is sacrosanct – especially in times of great transition. Don’t mess with it.

6 | Have the kids decorate your moving boxes. Stock up on stickers, markers, and crayons…

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