Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tips on Preparing for a Move with a Toddler

My husband and I married in 2007. We decided at that time that we would wait several years before having kids. We wanted to enjoy the married life, travel and simply have fun. And we did. For five years.
We moved to different cities in and out of California and somehow, our kid-free lifestyle also translated into a lifestyle with little desire for grown-up responsibilities, like buying a home.

My honey and I back in 2008

Now it’s 2015 and we’re expecting our second child! We also just bought our first home.
It was an exciting process— from getting qualified for a loan to finding a house that seemed like a good fit, exploring different neighborhoods, etc. But the one thing we didn’t really plan for, was explaining to our son Benny that we were moving.

Holding the keys to our new home in the San Fernando Valley!

We’re still living in Los Angeles County. But moving from the San Gabriel Valley to the San Fernando Valley is quite a change, especially for a toddler who grew fond of his daycare and daycare buddies and loved the only place he ever knew as ‘home’.

Even before beginning to pack, we started explaining to Benny that we would be moving to a new house. His response at first was: “I don’t want to move to a new house. This is my favorite house.”
This of course, was enough to make an emotional pregnant woman cry a little but I didn’t let him see me and I continued promoting our upcoming move with excitement.

Benny enjoyed being a rascal while I tried to pack my messy office!

When we started packing his toys, we made a game out of it. I sorted all of his toys and the game consisted of filling up empty boxes as fast as possible.
When the only thing left in his room was his bed, we lay on the floor and created puppet shows using our hands and a flashlight against the wall. Then we had fun screaming funny phrases that echoed in the empty room.
When the U-Haul truck was parked and we hired a few guys to help us load, Benny started asking: “where is everything going?”

My Paul worked so hard to move us!

Then came the moment to pick him up on his last day at Daycare.

By the time Paul and I arrived, his babysitter for nearly three years was already in tears.
Benny knew it was his last day there and upon seeing her cry, which immediately made me cry too, he tried consoling each of us. First he explained to his babysitter Lorena that he had to go to school now and he was moving to a new house. Then he told me he was “so happy” to go to school. But then he too got emotional and broke out in tears.
It was so heart-breaking! I may be bordering on being excessively sensitive but seeing him so sad yet still wanting to make us all feel better touched my heart to the core.
My husband was very calm, constantly reminding me that Benny would be fine. He drove us straight to the nearest mall, where we made an evening out of the last day at our old city and bought Benny a toy. Then we took him to a pumpkin patch where he played carnival games, visited a petting zoo and got on a super slide (all while I stepped away periodically to cry and cry).

Big shades to cover my watery eyes at the pumpkin patch

Later that night, as we were driving to our new house where we would sleep for the first time, Benny started crying. I think he realized we were moving away from everything familiar to him. He cried for a while without being able to express what was going through his mind other than offering: “I’m mad at you, mama”.
Eventually, he fell asleep in his car seat while I wept the rest of the way home. As a mom, there was a certain type of guilt (again, I can only speak for myself because I’m hormonal and very sensitive these days) that came with taking my little boy away from everything he ever knew.
Nonetheless, he woke up happy and inquisitive the next morning at the new house and seemed very excited to run around a new set of halls, bedrooms and bathrooms.
On occasion, Benny still asks about his “other casa” but I think he’s begun to enjoy his new home and preschool.

Benny helps mommy paint the pantry in our new home!

Benny's new backyard!

I’m not a child psychologist or an expert in any capacity.  I’m just a mom sharing the following tips (based on our own experience) in case you have a toddler and plan on moving soon:

*   Talk to your little one(s) openly about your plans to move. Explain why you’re doing it and make an effort to incorporate language that will make them feel they’re going to enjoy the new place.
*    *  Involve your kid(s) in all aspects of the moving process. Take them along to pick up boxes, let them give an opinion about what size moving truck you should rent. It’s a bit silly, I know but it makes them feel so important to have an opinion!

      *   Make packing a fun experience by improvising games and contests to take away from the fact that their comfort items (toys, plush dolls, books) will be put away for a little while.

      *   On the day you have to say a final “good-bye” to friends, sitters, neighbors, etc. try to share a fun family activity afterwards (a park outing, a trip to the toy store, a favorite restaurant). This will serve as a distraction and also as a memory of the last day in a place you will no longer call ‘home’.

·     *   Finally, try to impress on them that home is really where the heart is. There’s no better or safer place to be than surrounded by the warmth of their parents, regardless of the new location.

·     *   Keep in mind that kids are resilient. You may feel worried about how your little one will react to so many changes but it's possible you may be the one who's worrying too much!

Just my thoughts.

Thanks for reading! 

1 comment:

Irene said...

I got so emotional reading this. Don't know how you moms do it!