True story… My parents have lived in the same house since they got married (47 years and counting). In fact, my siblings and I were all brought up in that house.
While it was lovely to have that secure base as a kid, in reality, many families move a lot when their kids are young. It’s a good time to get into the best school catchment area, to move nearer to family or to move out of the City for more space. So, it’s pretty common to end up moving house with a toddler.
I may not have moved house in my first 18 years. However, I certainly made up for it when I left home. Since I met husband 11 years ago we’ve moved 8 times in total (with at least another move on the horizon in the next year). I definitely feel like I’ve been there and got the t-shirt on this one!
This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through a link and subsequently make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Read more in my Disclosure Policy.
9 Tips for Moving House With a Toddler
Our latest move was by far the hardest one. We weren’t moving far away, but this time we had an energetic and inquisitive toddler with us. And boy does moving house with a 1-year old (almost 2 actually) make things harder…
It makes it harder to pack. It makes it harder on moving day and it can also be tough post-move too, as your sensitive little soul takes a couple of days to settle into the new space.
When you’re busy organizing for a move, it’s easy to overlook the effects of moving on toddlers. With that in mind, I want to share my best tips for moving house with a toddler:
Tip 1: start organizing for a move EARLY
And by early, I mean as early as humanly possible.
We left it way too late on this last move. I think we didn’t take into account the fact that trying to do anything with a toddler takes twice as long – so we ended up totally stressed out the week before we moved. Finding some time every day to do some bits and pieces would’ve been far easier.
Moving 101 – It’s much more effective to do a little bit of organizing every week for a couple of months before the move. Your little one won’t feel ignored and your sanity will remain intact.
Tip 2: throw money at moving home if you can
Given we were so pushed for time we ended up paying a removal firm to pack up our belongings for us (as well as moving us to our new home).
It wasn’t cheap, but in the context of the whole move budget, it didn’t break the bank either. And guys, it was AH-MA-ZING. Honestly, I couldn’t recommend it enough if you’re moving house with a toddler.
Four guys came at 9am on a Friday morning and by 4pm our whole house had magically ‘melted’ into boxes – with zero effort from us. We just concentrated on keeping our daughter out of the way and sorting out logistics for the move on the other end.
And the best bit of all is that opting for a packing service meant that the house looked normal up until the last moment. I think that helped our toddler, as she didn’t have to live in a sea of boxes for weeks on end.
Tip 3: enlist all the moving help you can
If your budget doesn’t stretch to professional packing and moving, then it’s super important that you enlist some help from family or friends.
You could ask a trusted friend to look after your toddler while you pack, or have someone to help lug boxes so one of you can watch the baby. Because trust me, your little one will want to be ALL OVER the action!
You can pay your kind helpers in pizza and beer, or squishy baby kisses – their choice!
Tip 4: distractions are your friend
Moving house with a toddler is one of those times that you might have to bend your usual boundaries. For us, our normal screen-time ban went out the window!
We allowed our little one to use the iPad to watch her favourite show (Hey Duggee!), which we normally NEVER do. But it was the only way we could keep her safely out of the way when large furniture was being thrown around.
Novelty is also a great distraction for toddlers, so we stocked up on a few new (inexpensive) toys for her to play with. Things like crayons (I LOVE these natural ones), a coloring book and ‘buckle’ toys.
Some other toddler toy ideas to check out:
Snacks are also a go-to distraction tool. We tried to keep it relatively healthy with fruit, raisins, rice cakes and cheese, but she managed to nab a packet of cookies that I’d left out for the removal guys.
She got through 3 of them before we found her, but on the bright side, it kept her super-quiet!
Tip 5: pack your toddlers’ room last
When you’re moving house with a toddler, keeping things as normal as possible for your little person is best.
Keep a close eye on any overly keen removal guys – I had to stop ours from packing up our daughters toys really early on in the day. We kept aside her favorite toys and snacks in our ‘no-pack zone’ but it helped that we asked them to dismantle her room and pack it away last, so that she wasn’t rattling around her empty room for too long.
Tip 6: unload and set up your toddlers’ room first
On the flip side, it works really well if you instruct your removal guys to unload and set up your toddler’s room first at your new home.
Firstly, it provides some familiarity for your little one. Secondly, you can get them all set up with their favorite toys and out of the way of all the action in the rest of the house.
Tip 7: make it an adventure
As adults, we have to deal with the stress of moving house, however, our kids definitely shouldn’t have to shoulder that worry.
The best advice I was given was to treat the move like an adventure with our toddler. Sure, she didn’t quite understand what was going on, but she certainly enjoyed when we spent some time running around the empty house and playing peekaboo in cupboards.
Tip 8: honor their feelings
Even with a playful sense of adventure, your toddler might show some anxiety at the upheaval and I think it’s super important that we honor their feelings.
If you’re moving house with a 3 year old then they may very well understand what’s going on. However, at 18 months not so much. But that’s no reason not to take the time to tell them what’s going to happen and to let them say goodbye to the old house and room.
Treat any tears and clinginess with compassion – their whole life has been in the house that you’re leaving so it will take them a bit of time to adjust.
Tip 9: don’t worry too much about toddler behaviour and sleep after a move
That said, they DO adjust and hopefully it won’t take too long.
Our daughter definitely was a little out of sorts for a couple of days. She was super clingy to me and seemed to regress with separation anxiety that I hadn’t seen from her in months. She also didn’t want to be left alone to fall asleep in her new room, which was totally understandable in my view.
But she bounced back pretty quickly. Kids of that age seem to thrive on routine, so for us, keeping her old routine going after the move helped her to settle in and feel secure that things hadn’t completely changed.
There you have it – 9 of my best tips for moving house with a toddler. I read a lot about moving house tips and hacks, but not many talked about how to manage it with kids in tow, so I hope this has helped you.
Good luck in your move!