Back in November, my husband and I moved into our first home. It was an incredibly exciting time, but was also incredibly stressful. My husband works full time, leaving in the early morning and sometimes not returning until well into the evening, and we have a very rambunctious (what toddler isn’t?) two year old. Oh, not to mention I was very pregnant. Since my husband’s work was so demanding, most (okay, let’s be real, all) of the packing was left to me. Which I figured was okay, since most (okay…all) the moving of those boxes would be left to him. To say I was terrified of such a big task is an understatement. Now that I’ve gone through the experience, I look back and can see what I accomplished that made this big move so much simpler, and what I should have done differently. So here are my 7 tips for anyone who will be moving with a toddler and finds herself just as swollen pregnant as I was:
- Start with making a plan. Knowing just where to start in the moving process can be so overwhelming that, if you’re like me, you’ll procrastinate even doing so for way too long. And moving with a toddler? While pregnant? Ten times worse. So instead of trying to jump right in with packing a random spot in your house, start by sitting down and making a plan. What room or items can you start with that you use the least? Will you de-junk as you pack, or just stow it all away and go through it later? What tasks will you have your toddler help you with, and what activities can you give her when you want her out of your way? Do you have any mommy friends who can watch your toddler for a few hours each day you plan to pack? You’d be surprised how helpful it is to write out, or at least think out, all these solutions before you encounter them as you’re packing.
- Set up some kind of tracking system. I used to think all I had to do was write a general note on the side of each box about what was inside and what room it came from in order to stay organized. But after having done only that for my two previous moves, I finally figured out that doing the bare minimum only led me to lose just about everything when all our crap got moved over to the new place. This time, I decided to use a numbering system and my trusty yellow notepad to help me keep track of exactly what was in each box. I got the idea from this smart lady. You don’t have to use what I did; Pinterest has a ton of ideas of how to stay organized. My point is—it’s much easier and faster to find what you need once you’re in your new home if you set up a system to track where you put what.
- Let your toddler help you however possible. You start moving stuff around and you better bet your toddler is going to want to be right there in the thick of it. She’s going to want to see every single item you pick up or put in a box. She’s going to want to play with the scissors you use to cut the tape. She’s going to want to put stuff in boxes for you, especially when you aren’t looking so you end up losing all the things. And she’s going to want to unpack the box you just got perfectly squared away, since she thinks she hasn’t seen what’s inside already. To avoid constantly yelling at her “Stop, don’t touch that!” you’ll need to give her tasks she can do. Have her hold your tape while you pull off a piece or push that tape down onto the box. Have her write on the boxes like you are. Enlist her “help” to move a box. Obviously you’ll be doing mostof the pushing or lifting but she doesn’t know that. Have her put unbreakable things into a box for you and praise her help (linens are a great item she can pack). Even if you end up repacking the box later, at least it kept her out of your way and made her feel helpful. If there’s nothing you feel she can do, prepare a fun activity she to entertain her that won’t need you right by her side (see this post for those ideas).
- Take breaks. This is very important not only for your toddler but for that pregnant body of yours. I took a lot of random dance breaks with my daughter since we already had the music blasting. This was fun and let her see I was still focusing on her, which meant fewer tantrums. If dancing’s not your thing, sit down and read a book with your toddler or color together. Relaxing on the couch with a glass of cold water after successfully packing a few boxes will rejuvenate you and your child, and allow your already swollen feet to rest. Your blood pressure will go down and you’ll give yourself some time to reevaluate what you need to tackle next.
- Accept/seek help. My biggest saving grace while I was packing and on moving day were my friends who watched my daughter for a few hours so I could be productive. No matter how well you try to plan fun activities for your kid or try to get her involved, she will still throw a few tantrums and this will get on your nerves. So send her off to play with friends and get packing while she’s gone. Or take a nap. That’s productive too.
- Take your toddler to your new house as much as possible. I know this isn’t doable for everyone, but if you’re in a situation where you are close enough to visit your new home often, do that. We relocated only about 40 minutes away from our last place, which meant we could visit our new home often while we waited for moving day. This allowed our daughter to see the place multiple times before moving in. Because she had already seen it so often, it didn’t seem like such a new, scary place and she transitioned really well to sleeping in her new room.
- Don’t feel guilty for not moving the boxes yourself. On moving day, I did what I could, but I felt so bad for not moving more of the boxes or helping with the heavier stuff. Okay, I actually didn’t feel THAT badly about it. I was 7 (going on 18) months pregnant and already swollen just by bending over to put on my pants. If I had tried lifting those boxes and going up and down our third story apartment stairs over and over, this baby would have come a lot sooner due to the stress it would’ve put on my body. So take a seat, momma, prop those sausage feet up, and direct your husband and helpers however you can.
What other tips you would give an expectant mother who is moving with a toddler?