If you're like most people, the thought of a cross country move is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Most people make this sort of move because of an upward career move or to be closer to family, so you've got plenty to look forward to after arriving at your new destination. However, the very act of moving, packing, driving cross country if you're taking your vehicle, and settling into a new environment can be stressful and draining—and even more so if you'll be moving with one or more toddlers in tow.
In some ways, families with small children have it easier than their counterparts with school-age kids—after all, toddlers are rarely involved in academic programs or have formed a tight circle of friends in their neighborhoods and schools. Nonetheless, moving across the country with toddlers isn't without its difficulties. Following are five successful strategies for moving across the country with toddlers.
Tell Bedtime Stories About Moving
Bedtime stories provide an excellent way to get toddlers used to the idea of moving. Choose age-appropriate, colorful storybooks that incorporate moving basics—such as packing, seeing a big moving van, unpacking in a new house, visiting the new neighborhood park, meeting a new playmate for the first time, and other aspects of moving cross country seen from a toddler's eyes.
Explore Your New Neighborhood Via the Internet
Those who are moving across the country usually don't have the option of visiting their new home and exploring the neighborhood as a way to help their toddler become acclimated—but that doesn't mean your child can't pay virtual visits to what will soon become his or her new place of residence. Use the Internet to help your child become familiar with your new home. Show your child online photos of your new home as well as use Internet resources such as Google Street View to virtually explore your soon-to-be new neighborhood.
Have Someone Else Watch Them While You Pack
Enlisting a favorite friend or relative to take your toddler to the park or otherwise keep them occupied while you're doing the bulk of the packing. This is not only safer for the child, but you'll get much more done in a shorter amount of time than if you were trying to pack with a curious toddler underfoot.
Schedule Some Fun Along the Way
Parents of toddlers already know that they need to take plenty of items to keep their children occupied and comfortable during long car rides—you'll undoubtedly bring along favorite books, blankets, toys, games, and anything else that will help your child be comfortable and happy during the trip. However, you should also schedule time for fun along the way. For instance, if your destination takes three days to reach by car, consider making it four days and leave some time for family friendly activities along the way—perhaps your route goes through scenic National Parks and other attractions your toddler might enjoy. Remember, a tired child is a child who rides easily in a car, so even if you just stop at local parks with playgrounds, you'll be making the trip easier on everyone.
Make Reservations in Advance
Instead of just winging it and staying in whatever hotel or motel is the closest when you happen to feel like giving up the driving for the day, make your reservations in advance and stick to a clear plan. Instead of trying to make the best possible time, stop and enjoy a proper dinner and a couple of hours of family time before hitting the sack. This minimizes the chances of your child waking up cranky and fussing for the rest of the day.