Packing & Survival Tips for Moving With Babies & Toddlers
Moving to a new home can be seriously stressful. The whole process is tedious; searching for the perfect home in a sellers market is nail biting competitive and then closing on your 30 years of debt… Um, I mean “home sweet home” is enough to make you want a midday cocktail. Then, once it’s all said and done, you actually have to move. That’s right, time to pack up every piece of furniture, your beloved designer bags, and don’t forget every random Target Dollar Spot find you’ve stuffed way back into your junk drawer. (My paper straw game is strong, thanks Target!) Which might not be all that big of a deal, unless of course you have a baby or a toddler or if you’re like me, BOTH.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am head over heels in love with the little people we’ve made! But, boy oh boy, do they have a ton of stuff. In addition to their accumulating affection for junk and their ever growing collection of nonsense, baby and toddler “stuff” isn’t the only logistical issue in moving with the littles. There is safety, preparedness, bed time routines and creature comforts to be considered.
I remember when my husband and I were engaged, moving from our first apartment into our first house we packed up and moved across town in one Saturday. On our first night in the house, with our belongings still in boxes, we simply ordered a pizza, popped a bottle of champagne, and slept on a mattress on the floor in the living room because our new bed wasn’t assembled yet. And we slept (glorious uninterrupted sleep, I miss you…) only to wake up and unpack at our leisure on Sunday and we were back to work on Monday.
Now the thought of moving in one weekend is comical. Sincerely, the only way I could move my family in a weekend would be because our house burned down and there was nothing left to move, and I’m not going to lie… I’ve considered putting a sign in our yard that states “Everything inside is free! Take only what you can carry!” But my husband frowned upon the idea of replacing all of our belongings, especially my shoes and bags. So let the packing party begin!
Our family is in the middle of a move from the sprawling suburbs to the city. So to add salt in the wound of mastering a move with wee ones, it also means we’re downsizing to become urban dwellers, in an effort to minimize my husband’s commute for more quality family time. Since we’ll be losing significant square footage, it was very important to surround ourselves with a space we truly loved. We went with new construction which in turn bought us some extended packing time as the process of building is, of course, more lengthy. Over the past two months we’ve been slowly packing away our belongings into boxes, culling through our closets, and managing our move in strategic order that I think any parent would appreciate. Today, I’m sharing those tips with you!
Before Moving Day
1. Supply Shopping!
Stock up on packing tape, moving boxes, seasonal storage bins, bubble wrap, protective paper, stretch wrap, trash bags (oh SO many trash bags), and large permanent markers. I’d recommend you purchase more than you think you will possibly need and keep your receipt to return whatever you don’t use. Over stocking your supplies will eliminate running back and forth to the store 193,729,484 times with your tots in tow.
2. Sort Out Your Storage
After consulting with the owner of a premier local moving service, the biggest takeaway was the advice to have all of your boxes in one convenient area of your home (preferably your garage) so that the movers aren’t wasting precious time going from room to room to gather up boxes and can load directly onto the truck. If you’re being charged by the hour, this not only saves you time, but major cash. While this concept made perfect sense, there was one slight snag. Our garage was stuffed and there would simply be no space to put all of our boxes in anticipation of the move. So first things first, we had to sort out storage spaces. This means a complete clean out of your attic and garage. We dedicated an entire 3 day weekend to this process and had a family member come to lend a hand with the kiddos. Several car loads to Salvation Army later, we had a clean slate to start prepping for our move.
3. Pack By Category
When you’re packing in advance of a move, you can’t exactly empty out the room as you would if you were transitioning immediately. Because, well, you still have to live there! The solution is to pack by category instead of by room. Start with low priority items and work on emptying your house strategically. My order of progression was:
- Decor/seasonal items
- Wall art
- Extra linens
- Small appliances (not used daily)
- Serving ware
- Formal dishes and glassware
- Small decorative furniture
- And out of season clothing
By keeping out only the items you need to get through your day-to-day without any excess, not only will you see what you’ll be able to live without and maybe let go of a few things, but you will also make a huge dent in the packing progress. Take advantage of your children’s nap time to get this step done, you’d be surprised how quickly you can pack up all these extra nonessentials.
4. Create Comfort Containers
Now your walls should be bare; your home undecorated and all nonessentials packed away. Meaning that what’s left is furniture, toys, personal items, toiletries, and in season clothing. There’s still lots to pack, but how to proceed when you still have several days or even a week before your big move? Comfort containers. Provide each family member with a large clear storage bin and label with their name. This is a fabulous way to get the littles involved in the packing fun, so include them in the process of packing their very own container. Have them pick out several favorite small toys, a favorite blanket, and stuffed animal. Pick out a favorite pair of pajamas and a special bedtime story. If your toddler is old enough, try and allow them to make all of the decisions and place each item in their container themselves by making it a game filled with positive encouragement. Once they are done with their “contribution” of comforts, go help them pack up the rest of their essentials. Fill a gallon sized zip lock with their toothbrush, toothpaste, and any other toiletries or medications they require on a daily basis. Include a bath towel, wash cloth, and lastly, enough outfits for the remaining days prior to your move. Each child’s comfort container is unique to them. They have all of their things in one accessible place and when you get to your new home, you won’t be tearing boxes open at 2am searching for that special lovie your baby can’t sleep without. Once you have the kids containers, pack one for yourselves using the same concept of packing primarily essentials, a few comfort items, toiletries, medications, and enough clothes to get you through the move. Now, everything else besides major furniture pieces gets packed because everything you need immediate access to should be in your comfort container!
5. Pack A Home Base Box
Expanding on the concept of a comfort container is a home base box. This is a box with everything you will need access to for moving day and the first night in your new home. Think of it as a portable “home base”. Include the following:
- A note pad and pen for list making
- Basic tools (razor blade, wrench, screw driver and hammer)
- Duct tape
- Phone chargers
- Cleaning supplies
- Trash bags
- Laundry detergent/dryer sheets
- Bed linens
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Nonperishable snacks
- Bottled water
- Disposable cups
- Plates and cutlery
- Paper towels
- Your coffee maker and coffee with travel mugs
- Laptop and charger
- Cash to tip movers
- Any paperwork for the new home you will need and lastly a bottle of bubbly to toast to your first night in your new home!
On Moving Day
1. An Extra Set Of Hands
Unless you are okay with moving day taking twice as long and being twice as stressful, I would highly recommend hiring child care or having a family member help out. Our plan is to have our favorite “extra set of hands” spend the day with our kiddos at our beloved neighborhood spots one last time. The park, our favorite pizza place, and maybe even the splash pad. It’s a great way for the littles to say a final goodbye to their current neighborhood and a great way of keeping them out of the house for a few hours while the truck gets loaded. I was very concerned with people coming in and out of our home and potentially having one of our quick toddlers slipping out through an open door and no one noticing amongst the hustle and bustle. Having an “extra set of hands” is so comforting to me and allows me to shift focus completely onto coordinating the move and time management.
2. Power Up
Make sure to confirm all of your utilities are up and running for moving day. This is a given, but a little reminder doesn’t hurt! Be sure to keep all of your new account paperwork in your “Home Base Box” so that it’s easily accessible.
3. The Long Goodbye
After the truck is loaded and the movers are done doing their thing, take some time to say goodbye to your old house. Thank the house for all of the good times and great memories. Take some pictures of your wee ones in the empty house and the front yard and blow a kiss goodbye. Now on to the next adventure!
Are you moving this summer or have moved previously with a toddler or baby? What was your biggest challenge? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!