Moving Forward: Thoughts on Moving House while Being Sensitive To a Child’s Needs

Moving Forward: Thoughts on Moving House while Being Sensitive To a Child’s Needs

How to move with a toddler**Written by Liza Cumming**

When I was pregnant with Finn and my nesting instincts were in full swing
I was determined to find a nest that we could make our family home and
stay put. However, a year and a bit down the track and I realized that the
desire to stay came from a stubbornness in maintaining the status quo,
rather than an honest evaluation of what was truly right for us. Sure we
had friends and family nearby, we loved our next door neighbors and we
were loath to leave the best brunch places that we had discovered nearby.
However, if we were really honest the rent was more than we could
comfortably afford, the house was small and the yard smaller. The
opportunity arose for us to take a sea change and rent a property that was
double the size for half the rent, not to mention the leafy backyard and
the short walk to the beach. Such was my fear of change that even then
with the choice so clearly laid out in front of me, I hesitated and
deliberated and fretted about cupboard space and moving costs and mostly about leaving my friends and the city that I loved.

Once the decision to take the leap had finally been made I felt reassured
and excited as I imagined running in the backyard with my son and digging
out a sandpit for him. However, I was nervous about the insurmountable amount of work that seemed to lie ahead. The effort that it takes to unpack the dishwasher with a vivacious toddler trying to help gave me pause, when I thought about the extent of packing and unpacking that lay ahead. The thought of it was enough to want to curl up under the covers and not come out, the opposite of what I should be doing, pulling the bed apart and loading it into the truck.

Not only was I overwhelmed, I was worried about how Finn would take the move and whether he would be able to
settle in the new house. As the exhaustion piled up and our stress levels rose, there were a few things that I took stock of that really seemed to help, especially in regards to my son.

The hardest day was the day of the move itself.

We had spent the days before packing, ordering and culling our things and we were already beyond tired. Finn was obviously trying to work out what all the fuss was about and was clearly wishing someone without a new found obsession with boxes, would just take him to the park already!
Unfortunately, we could not go anywhere as we waited for the removalists who claimed to be 45 minutes away throughout the entire day, so we had no choice but to stay put and try to stop Finn climbing the teetering tower of boxes littering our once beloved lounge room.

On this day, there were two crucial ingredients that stopped us all going insane.

The first was food. Food, food and more food. Knowing that it calms all our nerves when there is a constant supply of snacks I made sure not to pack any of the tasty cheeses, biscuits, dried fruit, muesli-bars and yogurts that we like. I also made sure that we got ourselves some delicious and enormous sandwiches from the deli around the corner to keep us going. Finn was
comforted by having his own little snack bag that he could go to and open when he wanted. And for the moment when sheer boredom and frustration threatened to morph into a feet-stomping tantrum, I had a couple of his favorite fruit bars and banana biscuits stashed away.

Equally important to Finn as the snacks, was a constant supply of cuddles and more frequent than usual breastfeeds. I won’t pretend that it wasn’t frustrating, constantly stopping what I was doing to pick up, comfort and carry my toddler but I had to keep reminding myself that he had no idea what was going on, what was next or where we were going, so he absolutely
needed all the comfort and reassurance that we could offer.

Finally, leaving the majority of Finn’s toys unpacked until the very end was comforting for my son, as he didn’t have to watch them disappear into the sea of boxes. We simply scooped them up at the end and brought them in the car, ready to get out of the car with us at the other end.

Once in our new home, I noticed the toll that the confusing upheaval had taken on Finn as he oscillated between manic running around the house at all hours, frustrated outbursts of biting and kicking and clear exhaustion. So rather than devoting myself to the task of unpacking and giving in to my desire to have everything ordered, I left it all and spent
the week focusing on Finn, giving him the attention he had been craving and establishing a new routine of playgroups, parks and story-time at the local library. I wanted him to feel secure in his new environment, an orderly house could come later (or at least the ever elusive goal of organization!).

Once Finn’s moods stabilized and he was comfortable sleeping in the new house, we were able to look around and congratulate ourselves on not getting stuck, on taking a big step and establishing a new home, one so much better than the one we had loved before. This morning after a short journey to the newly discovered and most amazing French patisserie, as we
nibbled our croissants and watched Finn hanging out the window to catch a glimpse of the dozen rainbow lorikeets competing for bird seed, I reminded myself of how easily we could have missed this, how we could have just
stayed, too stubborn to try something new.


Liza is mom to Finn and a regular contributor to Positive Parenting Connection and our community page on facebook.  You can find more of Liza’s writings at PramSandwich a baby and food blog!


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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, and one cuddly dog.

2 Responses to Moving Forward: Thoughts on Moving House while Being Sensitive To a Child’s Needs

  1. Its important for parents to keep in mind the needs of each child when they decide to move,adults find it easier to adjust but children may take a while adjusting to their new place. I am sure moving with such a tiny tot would have been even more delicate,its good to hear that your son has now made himself comfortable in the new place and you can now relax without feeling guilty.

  2. Thanks for these reminders! We are about to move house with our 18 month old. It can be hard to remember they don’t really understand, but so important to be there to support them when they are frustrated, confused or sad.

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