Moving is a lot of hard work. Moving around the world adds a layer of stress/work. Moving around the world with a toddler in tow can seem impossible. But I’m here to tell you that it is possible and you can do it! We just moved from Los Angeles to Oxford, England with our two-year-old daughter and while it was difficult at times, it was definitely doable and even enjoyable.
This post has our experience in detail along with all of my tips for moving with a toddler.
Talk About Moving
My first tip for moving with a toddler is to talk with them about it. Be very open and honest with them about when you are moving, where you are moving to, and fun things that they will experience in the new place and along the way.
Talking with your children in general is a good practice to cultivate. There are many things that you can talk about and you should talk about with your child. I have found that it is helpful for the child to talk with you and it helps you learn more about them as you talk with them. In our house, we talk with our daughter quite a bit and that made talking about the move seem like just a regular part of our life.
But I do think it was essential for my daughter. I know that talking about moving has helped her transition and given her excitement for this new adventure that she would not have had otherwise.
And, really, talking is a common courtesy to your child. I think it is easy to fall into the habit of not being kind to your kids when we should be. No one wants to just wake up one day and get on a plane not knowing where they’re going and all their toys and everything they knew is gone. That’s simply not nice. So, talking about moving and the aspects thereof with your children is important.
After we had initially told our daughter we were moving to Oxford and the details about when and where, we would often have conversations like this:
Mom: “Hey, Aletheia, where are we going in January?”
A: “To Oxford!” (With both hands jolting up in excitement!)
Mom: “And what will we do to get there?”
A: “Ride on the airplane, take a bus, and see lots of pretty things.”
Even something simple like this still helps their little brains to process and get ready for the big move ahead. She would often ask other questions and I would just answer them as best as I could. Sometimes I didn’t know the answer and I would say that we get to find out together once we move to Oxford.
Remind Them Who Is Always with Them When They Move
Another thing that we’ve talked about with our daughter (even before preparing to move) is that Jesus is always with her. I’ve shared Hebrews 13:5 with her multiple times. In it, God says that He will “never leave us nor forsake us.” I’ve told her that means Jesus is with us all the time.
When your room is dark and its time to go to sleep, Jesus is with you. When you hear a loud noise and it makes you jump, Jesus is with you. When you are flying on a plane to new place, Jesus is with you.
These conversations were also part of our normal day before our move. Instilling Scripture like this in your kids is a great way to encourage them to trust in the Lord when they are scared or unsure.
I know that there were times Aletheia was unsure about our move and I pray that these conversations helped her to know Jesus will always be with her even when we left our home in CA to come to England.
How to Get Rid of Toys Before Moving
Now, I’ve been telling you to talk about everything with your child… well, there is one thing that I did not totally talk about with our daughter: getting rid of her toys.
Getting rid of toys seemed like the hardest task of this move. I’m sure it would be different for each toddler and where they are developmentally, but I decided that it would be best for my daughter to not talk about getting rid of her toys before our move. I knew that if we talked about it every time we got rid of a toy it would just be an endless cycle of her getting upset, wanting to keep the toy, and then not being able to get rid of it cause she suddenly wants to play with it.
So, instead of totally involving her in this process, I simple started getting rid of a few toys here and there while she was napping or after bedtime. But I kept most of her toys up until the very last days of our move. That way, she still had plenty of toys to play with while us parents were busy packing and preparing. And then there wasn’t a big struggle everyday to help her get rid of her toys.
It also helped to keep her world somewhat normal right up until we left. Our apartment looked emptier and emptier as we got closer to our moving day, but she could still play with all her toys in her room.
In the final days before our move we got rid of the rest of her toys, still without her noticing for the most part. There were some occasions while getting rid of things where she asked me point blank and I, of course, told her the truth, “We can’t keep this toy because it will not fit in our suitcase when we move to Oxford.” And this answer did seem to suffice except for when she saw one of her favorite toys get taken out and a tantrum ensued.
It was an opportunity for me to have grace with her because she was experiencing so much change and excitement and so many new things all at once. But that moment also made me glad that we had decided to not talk with her about all the other toys!
Again, you’ll have to do what you feel is right for your child, but this is what worked for us.
We also knew that we would have to purchase a few toys here at our new house. I’m glad we wait to do this because we don’t have that much space. But, now that we are here, we did get a few toys (with the help of Aletheia’s grandparents). She’s loving playing with this barn and this doll house from Melissa and Doug. Having the new toys definitely helped her not miss her old toys.
Keep on Talking
Overall, Aletheia has done very well with this move. She was very excited to get on the plane, to see our new house, and she cannot wait to go to the park here. She has asked a few questions about going back to our “California home” as she calls it now, but our answer that this is our new home and we will be staying here now seems to be enough for her. Although, when we first arrived, she was not so sure about going potty in our new house and she said, “I’ll just wait until we go back to our California home.” She got over that pretty quickly!
We are only a little bit into our move, so I am interested to see how she will do in the coming weeks. I’m sure that it will all become more and more normal as we go. And, I’m also sure that we will just keep dialoguing with her about all the changes and different things that come up.
That is the last tip for moving with a toddler: Keep talking to them!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to communicate with your children. Even if you aren’t moving around the world. They need your direction and guidance. So have conversations with them! Sure, they are simple when they are toddlers, but those moments of talking one-to-one with your child will flourish as they grow older. And you will be thankful for having started learning to talk with them early on.
It Is Actually Fun!
It is exciting to have a little world traveler and to think that she has already flown around the world before she turned three! I pray that these experiences will shape and mold her into a young woman who fears the Lord and is fearless because of the assurance of His presence and watch-care over her.
And, it’s been so fun to see her reaction to all the new things. Whether its a new food she’s not sure about or flying on the airplane, seeing the world through a child’s eyes really makes you more grateful for the joy in the details.
Are you moving with a toddler soon? Let me know in the comments!
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