Shifting and setting up a new home is often replete with a mix of emotions. The moving takes a whole new dimension when there is a toddler involved. Managing the emotional and psychological upheavals of the child are the added responsibilities and it is important as a parent to ensure that moving to the new home is seamless for the child as well.
There are many ways in which parents can manage and plan the move well.
Though the involvement of the child may be minimal, it is, however, important to not let the focus shift completely from her. It is best to talk to her about the move and ensure she doesn’t feel uprooted from the old setting. At the same time, the happiness and excitement of a new home and neighbourhood should also be shared.
Explain – Pre-planning means talking to your child well in advance and explaining to them about what is to follow. If possible let the child visit the new home before the actual shifting to make him/her familiar with the new set up. Show pictures and videos of the new house as well.
Packing – We all know how stressful it can be sorting stuff in our homes and deciding what needs to be discarded versus what needs to be carried forward. When it comes to the child’s belongings, make sure that you keep as much of his old toys, accessories, books and so on. It is best to discard stuff when the child is asleep to avoid tantrums and a sense of detachment. This may mean slowing down the packing process and taking many breaks, but it will help ultimately in the long run.
Involve – Let the kid have a box of his own and let him just playfully pack his own things. You may have to repack, however, it will help the child to understand that these boxes are full of his own things and they are not going to a place where he cannot access them.
Plan the moving day – The day or days that you actually plan to shift, coordinate the shifting with the toddler’s schedule. For example, if your child sleeps till late, try and have the movers come in early in the morning. Similarly, pack the child’s belongings at the end and unpack it first when you move, so that, the child does not miss his familiar things and setting for too long.
The Actual D days
Organise meals – The shifting begins, movers stomp inside your house. At this time, make sure that the child is not left out. Ensure that there are food, toys and favourite books, belongings easily accessible in the inevitable mess. Similarly, ensure that in the new home, the meals of the toddler are handy. The last thing you want is a hungry child crying for attention.
Ask for help – It may not be possible for you or your spouse alone to manage it all in the rush and hectic work of moving. Grandparents, neighbours or friends can chip in and spend time with the child when you are busy with the other work.
Say goodbyes – This may seem a bit too childish, but it will be easier for the child to understand the moving process better. Let the child visit every room and say a goodbye. Let it be a happy exercise, so the child has positive thoughts about moving.
On arrival to the new abode
Unpack – As mentioned earlier, it is absolutely imperative to unpack the child’s boxes first. Keep the favourite toys, books, and colouring out first. Set up the bed, mat and other things that the child is used to, as soon as possible, so that the child feels comforted and there is an instant connection. Packing a separate bag for this purpose is the best way out.
Plan a treat – It is not a bad idea at all to have a welcome treat just for the family on arrival into the new home. The sense of happiness, joy and anticipation will make the child feel much more light and relaxed. Going to a neighbourhood cafe or restaurant will familiarise the child with the new surroundings.
Stick to schedule – A new home doesn’t mean new timetables. Continue with the old routine of bedtime, mealtimes, playtime and so on to maintain normalcy. No matter how busy you may be with the new setting, let the child not feel that everything has suddenly changed.
Explore the new – Once settled in the new home, do not waste time. Try and discover what all might excite your child in the new place. A park or walks around the block are some ways to distract and find new things for the child to do and enjoy.
Moving to a new home means a warm sense of anticipation for the new environment, the excitement of setting up a new place and looking forward to better prospects. It also means moving away from close friends, neighbours and familiar territory. The child too feels a turmoil of emotions and it is best to keep calm and positive. This will help the child to settle down easily as well.