Ask Chris: moving with toddlers


I have a toddler and we are going to be moving to a new house soon. Do you have any tips on making the transition to a new house smooth for him?


Drowning in packing peanuts


I have moved with toddler age children. It is hard work. I have said that the next time I move I am only taking my toothbrush, and even that is up for debate.

The toddler age is a double edged sword. On the one hand they don’t grasp the concept of “moving” to a new house and will likely be cranky and clingy for awhile after the move. On the other hand, they are quick to adjust and forget that they ever lived anywhere else.

And they definitely aren’t old enough to do anything helpful.

The primary thing that we did that helped with the adjustment was to make our child’s bedroom the first priority to have set up. While it is tempting to use the opportunity of moving to get rid of that pesky crib, toss out the old bedding, and redecorate, I would resist the urge as much as it is possible.

Set up their new room the same way that the old room was set up. This will give them a feeling of continuity, that not everything is changing. CHildren like the familiar. You can always redo the decor and buy new furniture after the adjustment period has passed.

Make sure that the child’s prized toys and possessions are the last thing loaded onto the moving van, and the first thing off. Set up their bedroom to be a sanctuary from the chaos of the rest of the house. A place where you and the child can retreat to play and get away from the boxes that will surely be stacked all over the house for a few weeks.

And if you are the sort that is saying right now, “Oh no, all my boxes will be unpacked and everything will be put away by that very evening.” Well then, you don’t need any advice from me because you are probably not human.

Depending on how long it is until you move, you might want to begin by packing up some of the toys are not being palyed with often any longer. That way in another month when you move they will seem like new when they are unpacked. I am a big fan of rotating toys. I store bins with various toys in the attic and rotate them with the toys in the playroom periodically.

Most of all, try not to be too stressed. Have some fun exploring your new neighborhood. Eventually you will be settled in, your child will be adjusted, and the packing peanuts will be a distant nightmare memory.

8 Responses to “Ask Chris: moving with toddlers”

  1. Brandi Says:

    On that same vein,

    Having just finished moving with a two and a half y.o. boy and a six-month old baby what is the moratorium on finishing unpacking? We’ve been here three weeks and my house still has many unpacked boxes. Should I be ashamed at my laziness yet?

    AND can husbands who work reasonably be expected to help? Mine has unpacked two boxes total.

    That last is potentially a land-mine question I know, either I’m going to read something I won’t like or he wont like.

  2. christina Says:

    I moved once with a toddler and just this past summer with a five year old, three year old, and one due in 6 weeks. Did I mention it was literally the hottest day of the year??

    We also made setting up the kids rooms the first priority. We painted them the same colors and tried to make things as familiar as possible. With the difference in space, we did make an extra effort to think through how to organize and set up their clothes and toys in ways that would make the transition to the new room and new house really smooth. We made use of a great free resource available from the company I work for you. Check it out at

    Now for the basement - our only unpacked area. Enter at your own risk…

  3. Mary W Says:

    We kept the kid’s room the same but, we also visited our new house (we built - we’ll the builder did the work, we just wrote the checks) we involved our toddler in picking the colors for his new room and he went with us when we bought the paint.

    I did have th house unpacked in three days BUT the baby stayed here and the older two went to grandmas. We picked them up after we were done with the move. I sent pictures of the progress to my mother every other day so the kids could see the progress.

  4. Mary W Says:

    Oh and in response - my husband learned the hardway about not helping. I threw all of his crap away. He had three boxes of crap that we moved each time we’d moved previously - all unopened for ten years. I opened them and asked hoim to sort through it. He didn’t I tossed it. we’ve been here almost three years, he’s not once asked about the boxes.

  5. Allanna Says:

    “Well then, you don’t need any advice from me because you are probably not human.”

    This is such a great line. You’re brilliant, Chris. You make me laugh.

    I have yet to move with toddlers, but we’re planning to move … eventually. I love that I’ll have your advice stored away. It makes me feel a lot more prepared. For whenever it is that the moving day comes.

    Moving with infants isn’t so fun. I was lucky that we had grandparents around to watch them while my husband and I moved boxes like crazy.

  6. Rachel May Says:

    We moved with a two-year-old last fall. I completely agree with the idea of having his room unpacked/put together first, as well as the resisting the urge to change everything (crib to bed, whatever). I was very careful to NOT get rid of toys, but instead kept them in the same bins in his toy storage unit, etc.

    He loved his new room from the start — everyone who comes over gets told to “come see my new woom!”. Even everyone who’s already seen it. Even the pizza guy. Even me. Every. Day.

    I’m glad he loves it, though.

  7. ympatgnr Says:



  8. link Says:


    great post…

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