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Should we avoid moving twice in one year?

We are selling our house. Depending on the market, our new home may not be ready for six months. We may need to move into a temporary residence until our new home is ready.

As the parents of a two-year-old girl, we are concerned about whether we should try to avoid moving twice in one year. We worry that this will be stressful on our daughter and not sure what to do. Are there any things we can do to make this easier on her? What can we do - any advice?

Lisa Poppe | Expert

Lisa Poppe

Moving can be hard on everybody but can really be devastating to a toddler. Toddlers like things that are familiar and they enjoy having a routine. It makes them feel safe and secure.

Moving into a rental home for six months and then into a permanent home later would be confusing to a toddler. The best solution is not to move twice however, if your house sells and you have to move into a rental for a few months there are a few things you can do to help with the transition:

Explain the move in clear and simple ways for your toddler.

Use a story to explain the move, or use toy trucks and furniture to act it out. If it is possible, visit the new house a few times so she can get used to both her new pace and idea of switching from one place to another. Make sure your child knows that everyone is moving, so she doesn’t feel as if she’ll be going on her own or will be left behind.

Pack their room last.

Knowing that they like routine and consistency, wait and pack their room last.  Try and leave her space as normal as possible until the very last minute.  If her items are the last to get loaded on the truck then they will be the first to be unloaded as well.

Get your toddler involved.

When you start packing her room, ask your toddler to help.  This will reassure her that all her toys and treasures are coming with her. 

When you pack your toddler’s toys in boxes, make sure to explain that you aren’t throwing them away.

It may seem silly but on the last day at the old house, take a tour of each room with your toddler so she can say good-bye.

Set up her room first.

Your child needs to feel secure, so when you arrive at the new house, set up her room first. If you do this then she has a place to go when she feels overwhelmed by all the unpacked boxes in the rest of the house. 

Minimize changes.

Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give your child a sense of familiarity.  Hold off on getting rid of your child’s old bedroom furniture, which may provide a sense of comfort in the new house. Avoid making other big changes during the move, like or moving a toddler from a crib to a bed.

Be a comforting presence.

Children  want their parents to soothe them through this unsettling period, so in the first few weeks after moving, try to be more available to her. Always reassure your toddler that the whole family is moving to the new home and it will be great.

Read more answers by Lisa Poppe