Right now, our tiny apartment has virtually everything boxed up and ready for the move and my twenty month old son has certainly noticed this. We haven’t yet taken apart the stuff in his bedroom (the crib literally has to be dismantled before it can be moved), but he’s quite aware of big changes going on. He inspects the boxes carefully and asks about them.
The really big changes, though, are coming up for him. Next week, he’s going to go to daycare one day and when he comes out of daycare, all of his bedroom stuff (crib, changing table, rocking chair, dresser, GIANT BUBBLE GUN) will all be at the new house, in a new bedroom. At that point, he’ll likely never return to the old apartment (I can’t think of a good reason why he would).
Moving is a stressful period for mom and dad, but we also see that it’s going to be stressful on him. In order to make the transition as easy as possible for him, here are our plans:
We regularly explain the move to him. We talk about it a lot, especially to him. One of our major parenting techniques is that we talk to him most of the time as though he were an adult (obviously, sometimes you cannot do this – I typically don’t get visibly excited about the conclusion of Go, Dog! Go! with other adults, for example, and I rarely have to encourage other adults not to put their plate on their head). We talk about how big our new bedrooms are going to be, mention the “duck” bathroom (one of the bathrooms was designed with a child in mind, full of bright blues and many bright yellow ducks on the walls), and so on.
We are saving his toys until the last day to pack. We plan on literally doing this while he’s at daycare the day before we move. We’ll only leave out a small number of his most favorite toys; the rest will be packed away. This makes everything seem as normal as possible up until close to the move.
All of his stuff will be moved at once. All of the stuff he’s most familiar with will appear at the new house all at once – he’ll go into daycare one day with all of his stuff at the apartment, and come out of daycare at the end of the day with all of his stuff at the house.
We’re postponing some rites of passage until he’s comfortable at the house. For example, we had originally planned on beginning the potty training process at around eighteen months, but we postponed that until after the move so that any forward progress that had been made would not be undone by the move. Also, sometime in the next four months, he will be moving to a toddler bed, another change we agreed would be best after the move.
We’ve visited the house multiple times with him in tow. The last couple times, we even took a couple toys with us for him to play with there. He carried his favorite stuffed animal all around the house the last time we visited, so this makes his last visit to the house before the move have a sense of comfortable familiarity to it.
Remember, the happiness of your family is a key part of making a major financial decision like this work. By putting extra care into making the transition smooth for our son, it makes this transition more smooth for all of us – we can enjoy this happy moment in our lives without the stress of an upset child.