Let’s face it—moving is never fun. With all of the packing, labeling, physically moving items, then unpacking, it’s an exhausting experience. Add babies and small children to the mix, and it can get even crazier. Take it from me—I’ve moved twice since my now 3-year-old son was born.
If you want to make moving day run as smoothly as possible, here are a few tips worth following.
Pack a bag of moving day essentials
If you’re like me, packing needs to come with order, and you want to keep items well organized, in clearly labeled boxes. That isn’t enough, though. Even if you’re beaming with pride at boxes labeled with everything from “baby toiletries” to “toys,” chances are when you need to find that diaper, or baby’s favourite stuffed animal or shirt, the box that houses them will be piled under a number of others, somewhere in the room, at the back of the truck, or in transit as your baby is crying for whatever-the-thing-is-you-can’t-get-at. And you’ll be on a wild goose chase to find it.
Put one box aside or, better yet, a suitcase or backpack, to hold the items that you will (or possibly might) need on the day, and especially night, of the move. This Safety 1st Diaper Tote Bag is a great option for holding everything you’d need for the kids on moving day. For baby, that might include a few diapers, wipes, bottle of milk (in a thermos to keep it cool), toiletries, and a change of clothes. For smaller kids, you might want to also include a few of their favourite toys, clothing, toothbrush, snacks, and water. Pack as if you were going on a weekend getaway or road trip. And make sure the bag travels with you in your car, not the moving van.
Pack baby’s furniture last so it’s first to come out
While you might be able to snuggle up on a mattress on the floor for the first night until you get the bed set up, a baby or child needs a comfortable and safe place to rest his head at night—particularly the first night in a new home where it’s important that he gets properly acclimated. Which means setting up the crib or toddler bed needs to be top priority. Have the movers (or friends and family) pack baby’s furniture last so that it’s the first to come off the truck and you can get going on setup immediately upon arrival to your new digs. Better yet, if you have the chance and an appropriate vehicle, transport whatever you can for baby’s room ahead of time to get a head start. Imagine the look on your toddler’s face when he arrives to a new home and his room is already set up for him!
Keep tech gadgets safe
When it comes to gadgets and gear, like a musical mobile, baby monitor, wipes warmer, and other devices, pack them all in a single box, wrapped with bubble wrap or newspapers to ensure they don’t jostle around and break. ((If you haven’t invested in a monitor yet, now is the ideal time. With one like the D-Link Wi-Fi Baby Monitor, you can use your smartphone and the companion app to keep an eye on video of your baby and/or kids as you move about the new house getting things done).
Keep all cables and connectors together, and label them if they aren’t already labeled so they don’t get mixed up. You might want to transport these items yourself versus loading them onto a moving truck – just to be safe.
Uninstall gates, plug protectors, etc. and set them up ASAP
The last things you’ll be able to pack in your old home are safety items, like stair gates, bed rails, plug protectors, and cupboard door locks. Keep them all in a single box or bag, and use Ziplocks or other labeled bags for screws and other tools. If you don’t yet have some, look at a set like the Safety 1st Nursery Safety Bundle, which includes a compact baby monitor with a 1,000-foot range and rechargeable batteries (perfect for keeping in your pocket as you move about); night light; nine outlet caps and four cabinet latches; and a window blind cord windup.
During my last move, we forgot to set aside a toolkit and had to make a mad dash to my brother-in-law’s house to borrow his so we could put together the furniture. Lesson: don’t just remember to keep the nuts and bolts together, but also keep a toolkit with you so you can do the necessary work, like mounting the baby’s camera on the wall, putting the crib or toddler bed back together, and putting up shelves without having to go through the mountain of boxes to find the one with your tools in it. If you are upgrading to a new crib or bed, have it delivered on your move in day so you can set it up right away. (Best Buy, by the way, offers free delivery on all cribs, and even set up service for some models.)
Get the new safety items you’ll need in advance
If you’re moving from an apartment or condo to a multi-level home, get the new items you’ll need, like gates for the stairs, ahead of time. This will help you avoid losing the first night’s sleep for fear that your child may stumble out of bed and attempt to conquer those fancy new stairs on his own.
Gates like the Munchkin Hardware/Pressure Mounted Wood/Steel Safety Gate can be placed by stairs or other door openings to ensure that curious kids don’t wander about. And you can set one up right away to keep a small child contained in one room while the movers do their job.
Get a playpen or swing for baby
Alternatively, set up a playpen or swing (with safety straps) where baby can remain safely while you help unpack, and to keep out of the mover’s way while they’re loading the van. I use the Baby Bjorn Play Yard, which is compact and lightweight enough to throw into the trunk – it weighs just 11 lbs. and folds up into a convenient suitcase. And it’s super-easy to set up and move around from room-to-room to keep baby entertained and safe. You can even use it outside. Another good idea for small babies is to keep them in the car seat until you get the crib or swing set up.
If you’re moving during favourable weather, consider taking baby, or the kids, outside to play in the backyard, at least while the furniture is being moved in. With supervision, of course.
Let older kids help
Toddlers like to keep busy, which means they keep you busy, too. They may frown upon being taken away from the action, so try to keep them involved to avoid meltdowns. For instance, have them unpack their stuffed animals and place them on a low shelf, or help you put away dry goods in the pantry. This will also make them feel more comfortable in the new home.
Have a plan
Overall, the best way to ensure a smooth transition to a new home when you have babies and/or young kids in tow is to plan ahead. Think of what your first day will be like, what you’ll need to do immediately and what can wait, and pack an overnight bag of sorts to get you through that initial hurdle and make the environment as comfortable, and safe, for the kids as possible.
(Image at the top from LettheKids.com)