My family just moved from Maryland to Texas. My son is now 9 months-old and we decide to make this move totally on our own. What I mean by that is, we packed the boxes, hulled it all into a truck (you pack, they pick it up), and drove across country, unpacked the truck ourselves, and painted our bedrooms in the new house. It was a huge under taking, but we had to move on a budget and this was the most affordable way for us to move.
Here are some suggestions on how to make a large scale move more manageable with a baby:
Pre-Move/ Packing Suggestions
1. Ask for help– get some friends and family to take your baby/ child to their house or play with them at your house so you can pack. This was about the only way I could get anything done!
2. Work around napping schedules- try to be as productive as you can while your baby is napping
3. Starting packing in advance– we started packing a month before we moved. As you know getting anything done fast with a small baby is near impossible. The sooner you start getting things in boxes, the less stressed you will be as time leads up to the big move day.
4. DVDs/ TV/ New Toys- I am not advocating sticking your kids in front of the TV non-stop, but the TV can help especially when you are in a bind for time. My son loves Baby Einstein DVDs and they kept him occupied while he was awake and I needed to by packing and boxing. I also borrowed some toys from friends that were new and that kept him interested for a while. The key is finding things that are noval and distracting so you can get things done.
5. Try to pack your baby’s room last- Keep pictures on the wall, things on the selves, and curtains up for as long as possible. Babies tend to sleep better and be less anxious when their sleeping environment is familiar and unchanged. We did not pack my son’s pictures, curtains, and room decorations until the day before the move. We did not take his crib down until the morning of the move. This really helped him to have less anxiety leading up to the move, as well as helped him to sleep better.
Traveling with Baby (in car/ plane)
6. Buy some new toys- get some new toys. They don’t have to be expensive. You can get some toys at consignment shops and garage sales for cheep. The novelty of new toys will keep you baby content and happy for a little while.
7. Keep snacks and drinks on hand- we had some Gerber rice cereal bites, Cheerios, and my pumped milk on hand. That way you don’t have to stop the car to give him some food to hold him over until you are at a good stopping point. I have an electric breast pump and I used that to express some milk to give to him in a bottle if he got fussy if we were not a good stopping point while we were driving. If you are flying, you are allowed to bring breast milk and formula through security in a bottle.
8. Portable DVD player/ DVDs- What would I have done without this? My husband got a portable DVD player as a gift right before we moved. My son loved watching his Baby Einstein DVDs while we were driving down the highway. When my son was in melt down mode, all we had to do was turn on the DVD player and he would instantly quiet. I will never go on a long drive without a portable DVD player again!
9. Head Rest/ Sun shades/ blankets- Buy an infant head rest and make sure you put up blankets and sun shades to help keep you child comfy for car naps and cool. We hung blankets from the windows to help darken his spot in the car, which helped him to nap a little better in the car.
10. Training Toilet- If you are at the stage when you are potty training your child, make sure you bring a training toilet along. You can just pull over anywhere and allow your son or daughter to go to the bathroom without having to hassle with finding a bathroom or the cleanliness of public restrooms.
11. Drive during naps and at night as much as you can- The easiest time to drive is while your child is sleeping. If you can time travel during your child’s naps and nighttime sleep, it will be much easier to get where you’re going. We did a bulk of the drive from about 7pm until 1am for 2 days. That was 12 hours of driving while my son slept.
12. Don’t wash your child’s crib sheet- A friend gave me this piece of advise and it works. The scent on the crib sheet is familiar to them and when you get to their new room or they are sleeping in a pack ‘n play, put the unwashed crib sheet on. This should give them a familiar sent and help them to sleep better.
13. Give them familiar objects/ things- My son sleeps with a stuffed monkey and a sound machine on. So we made sure these things were not packed in boxes. We put them in the car so we could have them immediately when we got there. It helped him to have the familiar sounds and smells of home just like the crib sheet.
14. Paint the nursery the same color and use the old furniture- now would not be a good time to change your nursery theme, furniture, or color of the walls. We painted my son’s room exactly the same and hung the pictures that were hanging in his room like they were at our old house. This made the transition into his new room a lot smoother than I thought it would be.
15. Give them lots of cuddle time before bed and while they are awake- If you spend a lot of time with them reassuring them that you are not leaving than the transition to the new home will be easier. My son need more cuddle time and a little long before bedtime activities in order to go to sleep and go down for naps. I was happy to give him the extra time if that was what it would take to get him settled. The days that I tried to rush pre-sleep activities were the days he slept the worst. So give them the extra reassurance and TLC they need!
16. Play in their new room- Take time to do some play time activities in their new room even if you don’t usually play in your child’s bedroom. This will help them to get comfortable with where they will sleep and be less strange to them.
17. Don’t rush un-packing- Make sure to ease into your new home and give your litle one lots of attention. You can unpack slowly during his naps and nighttime sleep. While he is awake, make sure you give him the extra attention he needs.