As I am sure every parent knows, when your child gets to 2 years old, they become quite a handful… I wouldn’t go as far as saying they are “terrible”, despite the comment phrase, but things become a lot more hectic. Your child starts to become very curious about pretty much everything. And, of course, that means that they want to try and play with everything as well.
Normally, that can be relatively easy to handle, as you are in a stable environment where everything is under control. However, when it comes to moving house (as we have just done), that all goes flying out of the window. Instead of a controlled environment, you’re suddenly having to deal with your toddler’s curiosity and exploration amidst an absolute mountain of pure chaos, stress and boxes full of everything that makes up your home.
So, in an effort to help any parents with toddlers out there who are planning to move home, I thought I’d recount our experiences and how we handled the situation… And then look at how you can handle it better!
Packing and Playtime
The first hurdle we came across was a few days before we were set to actually move to the new house. It was during this time that we needed to start packing everything away into boxes and bags, so that we could put them on the Luton van we were hiring from Enterprise (expect a post about that soon as well). Everything was going nice and smoothly whilst the punk rock princess was having her daily nap.
However, as soon as she woke up we realised what we were in for. You see, we had packed probably 90% of her toys already, since we were sorting out the living room stuff and that’s where most of her toys were. So, obviously, she was very unhappy that she didn’t have things to play with, and instead wanted to play with all the “new” boxes and bags.
This meant that, sadly, we had to sit her on the highchair for the majority of the time she was awake for the next few days, playing with the small amount of toys not packed yet.
Moving Day Excitement
Toddlers love new things (typically for about a couple of hours), and that played a huge part in the stress we faced when on moving day itself. As mentioned earlier, we rented a Luton van to move everything, as it was cheaper to do that than pay for a removals company. However, the issue there was that we would need to travel back and forth, loading and unloading, at least 3 times. So, we couldn’t exactly leave our daughter in the van…
Thankfully, my mother-in-law was around to help, so I loaded the van at the old house, and together, we unloaded it at the new one. Meanwhile, my wife stayed in the old house with my daughter. Then, on the final trip, we put the car seat on the middle seat of the van, got my daughter in and the three of us drove to the new house. Nice and simple… Or so we thought.
You see, the drive between the two houses was an hour and a half long, by car. But we were in a huge van filled with furniture and values, so I was driving slower than normal. I think it took about two hours in total; part of that being because I got lost after missing a turning. Therefore, naturally, my daughter got bored. So what did she decide to do? Why, use her feet to turn the hazard lights on and off, of course! What else?
So there we were, already stressed out because of the massive vehicle we were driving through narrow streets whilst being lost and unsure where we were going. And my daughter was constantly trying to turn the hazards on. So my wife was having to watch her, catching her feet before they touched the hazards button, whilst both she and I were looking at the road signs to try and find the right way to go!
Reveling In Redecorating
If you’re like us, then you’ll almost certainly want to “put your own stamp” on your new house, to use a very common idiom. However, sometimes that can wait for a while. With the house we bought, it could not. We were really lucky to get a good sized 3 bed with a front and back garden in a very upmarket area for a really low price. The downside, however, was that the house was in a right state!
From mouldy carpets to rotten skirting and walls that had yellowed through years of cigarette smoke, the house needed a lot of work. That was especially true when you consider that a young child was going to be living in it.
So, that meant that we needed a way to get the decorating done without her rolling around in all of the muck and grubbiness. To do that, we set up her cot in the living, right next to the mattresses we were going to be sleeping on, and regretfully, had to keep her in that cot all day long for the first two days (bar food time). In those two days, we hastily got her room sorted out, including new carpets, stripping wallpaper, filling in gaps under the window and painting.
Of course, we did all this to the orchestra of crying as she was so utterly bored in the cot.
Once her room was finished, we moved her cot, toys and everything else up to it, and she was so happy to finally be able to run around again after a few days of sitting in a high chair or being stuck in the cot. We both feel terrible that she couldn’t run around for so long, but it was the safest way for her whilst everything else was going on.
How You Can Do Better
So, that’s basically how we dealt with the stress and difficulties of moving house with a child, and I’m not afraid to say we could have done a lot better! Sadly, due to an extended purchase process (you can read about that here and here), we only had a few days before our rental contract ran out, so we had to move very quickly. It was organised chaos, at best. So, what did we learn from this experience that could benefit others?
- Make a plan B and plan C, in case your house purchase takes longer than you expect (especially if you’re renting at the moment).
- You may need to have a second, temporary accommodation as a backup, so that you don’t have to rush into your house without getting this sorted first.
- Pack your child’s toys last.
- Make sure their favourite things are readily available to them, to avoid creating additional stress.
- Hire a removals company, or have a second car and driver available.
- If you can avoid having your child in the same vehicle as your stuff, whether it is you or a company driving it, then it will be better for both you and your child. If, like us, you need to cut moving costs as much as possible, then have a second driver who can take your child in their car whilst you drive the van, or vice versa.
- Make sure there is someone with your child at either the new or old house.
- As with us, you’ll need to load and unload everything, so you need to have someone around to look after your toddler whilst you’re moving everything.
- If possible, get your toddler’s new bedroom sorted, including redecorating, before you move.
- If you’ve taken on point 1 and have either enough time before you have to leave your old house, or are in temporary accommodation, use that time to get your toddler’s room sorted completely first. Then they’ll have a safe and clean place to play whilst the rest of the house is done.
And That’s All Folks
Those are the five tips I would give to anyone with a toddler who is planning to move house. The act of moving alone is really stressful and difficult to handle, so if you can minimise the added stress of doing it with a toddler, it will benefit everyone involved.
Are you planning on moving house with a toddler soon? Have you already done it? What tips would you share to help with the experience? Let me know in the comments below!