Moving is an overwhelming experience. It is difficult to say whether you are excited about the new place or melancholic about the one you are leaving behind. You are trying hard to handle all those jumbled up emotions, along with the stress of getting everything done on time. The last thing you need is the background score of a wailing child.
Moving can get messy if you have a toddler in the house. Parents often complain that their kids get extra cranky during the move. While some of them will just cry and whine a lot, others might act out and throw tantrums. With everything lying around in boxes, your precious bundle of joy becomes an irritable bundle of distractions.
It may be difficult to deal with a cranky kid during the move but not impossible. Like a good parent, you need to investigate the cause behind this behavior first.
So, Why Do Kids Hate Moving?
According to various studies, moving can have a psychological impact on kids of all ages. While school going kids are sad about leaving their friends behind, toddlers can feel the lack of attention. When parents are too busy with packing and moving-related hassles, it becomes impossible to give kids the same amount of attention as before. Cranky behavior may be a sign that your child can tell the difference. In a way, it is your child’s call for attention.
Another reason toddlers become so difficult during a move is that this is the age when kids recognize change around them, and they are usually not thrilled about it. When you are moving things around and packing them in boxes, a toddler cannot tell what is going on but they can sense that something is definitely happening. Their minds are not ready to deal with the confusion and it stressed them out. Yes, toddlers’ stress is real and kids act out in response to that stress.
Now that you know that your child’s behavior is but a natural response to the change happening around, let’s see how you can deal with it in the most effective manner.
Stick to a Checklist
We will not mislead you into thinking that you can eliminate the possibility of your toddler creating a fuss. In fact, it is a possibility you will have to stay prepared for. Make sure you have a proper new apartment checklist to keep things organized. This way no matter how much fuss your toddler creates during the move, you can make sure that every box is checked at the end of the day. No amount of distraction will keep you from getting things done.
There is nothing wrong in asking for help from friends and family. You can always ask your kid’s favorite aunt or uncle to pay a visit or even stay a day to keep your child distracted from whatever is going on around them. If that is not possible, hire the nanny or babysitter who looks after your child when you are absent, If you take turns with whoever is looking after the toddler, they won’t feel deprived of the much needed parental attention. Avoiding help during this critical period will help neither you nor your child.
Manage Your Emotions
There is a high chance that your kid is unhappy because you don’t seem too happy either. Toddler’s age is one of learning and observation. They can feel the emotional energy around them. They can tell a frown from a smile. They can read the sign of stress on your face. More importantly, they look at how you deal with stress. As a parent, you can try to conceal signs of stress and frustration on your face or in your attitude. See if you are agitated. Try to display a positive behavior and attitude and your kid will walk to walk.
Don’t Disrupt the Routine
Moving doesn’t happen in a day. It is days and weeks of preparation and packaging. It can throw your entire routine upside down. While you may be big enough to deal with the disruption, your kid might not like it. Kids become difficult to deal with when things aren’t the way they are used to. Toddlers need sleep and meals as per their regular schedule. They also get used to things like family game time or TV time. Try to keep things as normal for them as possible. Naptime, especially, should remain undisturbed because a sleep-deprived toddler can wreak havoc around the house.
Give them Control
Toddlers love control. They love it when you let them be a part of what you are doing. You can use this fact to your advantage. Think of smaller tasks that your toddler can perform. You can start with their own stuff, like toys. Give them a box and tell them to safely put their toys in that box. You can make things even more interesting for them by letting them draw on the boxes. That will keep them busy and distracted, and they will take part in the process. However, for the sake of maintaining the routine, make sure your baby’s room is the last one you pack.
The Final Piece of Advice
While we talk about keeping the child distracted and routine undisturbed, it doesn’t imply that your child should be kept in darkness about the move. It is important to prepare them for the change, and more importantly, get them excited about it. A sudden change is not at all healthy for your toddler. It might disturb their sleeping and eating patterns and result in bad behavior. Try to ease them into the idea by paying a few visits to the new place before moving. Also, let them say goodbye to their old room so that they are more aware of the situation. Remember, your child is not being unreasonable. The crankiness is just a natural response to the change and lack of attention. Tend to them wisely and they will be as calm as a clam.
Written by Jenny Harrison