Like most new moms, Marci Stringham, of Orem, Utah, has her hands full taking care of her two-month-old daughter, Alexa. She changes a minimum of eight diapers a day. She wakes up three times a night. But Stringham faces another daunting challenge. In between feedings and catnaps she packs boxes and keeps checklists, preparing for a move across the country with her family, which includes her husband and two other children.
"I'm trying really hard to have a positive outlook on everything," Stringham says. To make the move easier on her children, she attempts to maintain some semblance of a routine, but she admits, "I'm a little on edge."
Stringham is hardly the only one switching zip codes these days. According to a Census Report, in the five years leading up to the end of the 20th century, 46 percent of the US population moved to a different home. Without a doubt, moving is a stressful experience, but relocating with a baby or toddler can be downright exhausting. Here are a few suggestions to make your next move manageable.
When asked how she made it through her move, Juliane Taylor of Mamaroneck, New York, smiles, "Two words: good friends." Taylor relocated to a home a few miles away last summer. At the time, she was six months pregnant and trying to keep her other three children, ages seven, four, and two entertained. "I planned a lot of play dates," recalls Taylor. "When my children were gone I'd pack and stash boxes as fast as I could."
When family and friends step in to help with your children, consider taking advantage of your solitude by doing something decadent for yourself like polishing off the jar of hot fudge sauce lurking in the back of the fridge. Just think: you'll have one less thing to pack!
Help Your Child Feel Secure
Susan Isaacs Kohl, parent educator and author of The Best Things Parents Do: Ideas & Insights from Real-World Parents, suggests that even infants can be comforted through communication. "Even if you think that your baby can't understand, talk to him." Kohl advises using simple phrases, such as, "The truck is coming today," or "Soon we'll be driving to our new home." An infant will be reassured by the tone of your voice, even if he can't understand your words.
Toddler-age children may be confused about the busy events surrounding a move. Britta Glade, from Orinda, California, found that her daughter, Ellie, became anxious whenever she and her husband went house hunting. "After several conversations we realized that Ellie didn't understand that we would be taking our stuff with us," says Glade. "She thought that we were going to be buying the whole house—contents included—and selling ours, leaving everything behind." After talking to Ellie about her concerns, Glade decided to involve her daughter by letting her help with the move, giving her small, non-breakable things to put in boxes.
Before you move, talk to your child about all the things that your new house and neighborhood will offer. If you're looking forward to life in your new home, chances are your child will, too.
Tania Dowdle of Eastchester, New York, went online and looked up information about their new neighborhood for her two-year-old daughter, Emily. She took Emily to visit their new house several times before moving day. As they drove around the community, Dowdle pointed out all the things that might interest the little girl, from parks and ice cream shops to more mundane sites like the post office and grocery store.