Currently, I am in the middle of a local move – going from Lauderdale Isles to Plantation, just a few minutes up the road. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, with 3 kids, ages 3, 1, and 3 months – it’s much harder than I ever anticipated. This is especially true since we chose to renovate the house a bit with new flooring (read as: My husband demolished the entire home and is currently putting it back together).
To help any mamas considering or anticipating an upcoming move, I wanted to share some learnings, as a bit of a checklist, to help you transition your toddlers from one home to the next.
- Be sure to explain to your toddler early on that the FAMILY is moving into a NEW house, however the house itself, is staying where it is! I can’t tell you how many times we stopped by our old home before moving into the new one and each time he was shocked that “our house is still here!”. Seriously though, it’s important that you give your kids a heads up as to what is going on from the very beginning. Build some excitement and get some buy-in! The more you talk about it, the more they will be open with you about any qualms, anxiety or fears they have around it, because after all, it is a change.
- Need to pack? Get literally everyone out of the house and do it yourself, or plan to use a service if it’s affordable for you. Call on your tribe to babysit and have a game plan. I can’t tell you how many boxes I packed, but I can tell you how many my toddler immediately unpacked before I figured out this gem.
- Planning to renovate the new house? Oh, just re-doing the floors? You’ll be homeless for over a month for sure. Check into local hotels that offer long-term stay pricing, look at AirBnBs or even plan to rotate around to your friends and family if possible. We even fit in a vacation! The lesson here is to anticipate that any renovations will take much longer than planned.
- Think about it, or don’t. The home we were leaving is where I brought home each of my 3 babies after they were born. Thinking about leaving that home really became a tear-jerker for me, so be prepared for that if you feel it coming on. Choose to really let that feeling sit, or just choose to ignore it and keep packing like I did. It’s up to you!
- Think of what you can do to memorialize your home in your mind if it’s important to you. I loved that I got pictures of each of the kids’ rooms, just as they looked with their furniture and all their belongings. I hope that one day when swiping through my phone or going through a scrapbook they’ll say, “hey, that’s my old room!” I also made sure to take pictures of the door frame that we used to mark their height every few months. I plan to replicate it in our new home for each baby.
- If you have transition time from one home to another, or even if you move in to your new home immediately, don’t be surprised if things don’t go swimmingly. No matter how flexible your kiddo is – this is a big change! One thing that will really help is keeping the same routine as much as possible. I have checklists for morning and night that my kids LOVE and I knew that was the key to keeping some normalcy for them. I made sure to bring the same checklists, use the same clipboards, and dry erase markers so that they could continue to use their checklists and we could keep the same routine no matter where we stayed while renovating the new home. As my 1 year old daughter frequently yells, “CHECK!”…
- Don’t let your or your family’s eating habits suffer (too much, anyway). Now, I know, to each their own with what they feed their toddlers or their families. Happy meals, juice boxes, gourmet meals, organic-only, vegetarian, etc. Some women aren’t even responsible for the cooking and will be looking to their partner to handle this part of the transition, and that’s okay too. What I’m saying is, don’t let your eating habits fall too far outside your comfort zone, at least not for very long because it’s a slippery slope. In my home, I am the cook and I like to make big family meals often – fast food is fine, but it is only occasionally. Well, with all my cooking gear in boxes, I began getting a meal delivered here and there. Decided, “wow this is easier!”. And, while I was occasionally cooking in our “in-between place” – it isn’t the best setup for the kids, with an accessible hot stove, low burners, etc. So, it became even more takeout, going to restaurants, then fast food. And, it wasn’t until yesterday when I was in my parked car, letting my kids rip through their Happy Meal cheeseburgers, using my center console as a table (even though we never eat in my car), while I breastfeed the infant, that I decided: this is pure survival mode! If you can avoid it, don’t let it get to this point, ladies. All my cooking supplies will be available to me again shortly, but getting my kids back into the routine of “play calmly here while mom cooks” is going to take some time!
I’m sure I could go on forever with more tips – and hey, maybe there is a part two. For now, I’m knee-deep in toys with a glass of wine, just sharing a few here. On the plus side, I did make a real dinner tonight, so five gold stars for me.
Good luck to any mamas moving! I salute you, and know that YOU GOT THIS!