In the eight years since graduating from college, I have moved nine times to seven different states or countries due to military assignments or life changes. I thought I was a moving pro until I moved from Kansas to Hawaii with a toddler.
Moving with a small child presents a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few things that I learned from our most recent move with a toddler.
Travel with clothing they can grow into
If you won’t have your things for more than a month then you have to pack smartly. We were packed up at the end of May and did not receive our belongings until late July. My son hit a big growth spurt during that time, so I’m glad I went through all of his clothes before everything was packed.
I made sure he traveled in clothes that were a bit large on him at first so that I wouldn’t have to buy new clothes while we were in the middle of a move. Anything that I thought he would grow out of after wearing once or twice got packed by the movers.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to travel or move a long distance—especially when flying—consider travel insurance from Progressive.
Bring a sound machine
We’ve always used a sound machine in my son’s room. We knew we needed to travel with something that could drown out the noise, so we downloaded a free sound machine app on our phones so that we weren’t toting around the extra weight in our suitcases. This was a lifesaver, especially during the weeks we lived in a small hotel room.
There are also many affordable travel-sized options, which we now use daily with our newborn daughter.
Be smart about toys
Once we moved into our new house we still had a few weeks to wait before our household goods were delivered. I knew that lots of toys were on their way so I didn’t want to buy many things for our son while we were in limbo.
He still needed things to play with though, so we relied on crayons for the bathtub, bubbles and sidewalk chalk for outside, a water reveal coloring pad that uses a water pen (perfect for traveling because once the pad dries you can reuse it), a blank, spiral-bound notebook with ultra washable crayons, and a box of 20 vehicle magnets that he played with on the refrigerator.
Pro tip: Having some trouble organizing your toddler’s toys? Check out these tips for storing your child’s belongings.
Think about high chair options
If you have a messy eater, a high chair is a necessity for all meals. We didn’t want to buy a new one while we waited for our belongings to be delivered so we bought one of the seats that can attach to the countertop or a table. This provided a secure area for him to eat or color with crayons.
Another good alternative is a folding high chair, which you can use later if you eat outside or go camping.
Accept the fact that unpacking will take longer
When our belongings were delivered, a friend graciously watched our son for us. My husband and I worked as quickly and as diligently as possible to empty as many boxes as we could before he came home. With the remaining boxes, we decided that the smartest option was to divide and conquer. He would take our son on long walks and to the park daily while I unpacked boxes.
We fully emptied each box to free up ground space and eliminated the temptation for our son to rummage through everything. We removed breakable things up and out of reach immediately. The first room we fully unpacked was the living room/playroom so that we could fully utilize the space. We then unpacked was our son’s bedroom so that he had another place to play.
The bottom line
The moving process is much more challenging with a toddler in tow, so if you have an upcoming move with one be sure to pack extra patience and prepare as much as possible beforehand.