Whether you are just shifting into your brand new BTO (Built-to-Order) flat after the birth of your first child, or relocating to get closer to a Primary school of your choice, moving house can be a stressful experience, especially with young children in tow. Some mothers who have survived their move share tips which can help smoothen yours.
1. Phase out items which your child has outgrown
The packing stage is a good time to spring clean and phase out toys and clothes which your child has outgrown. This is especially so if you are moving to a smaller place. Of course, given a choice, your child would probably want to keep every single toy. Mrs Y. P. Lim, who moved house when her son was three, got around this by setting aside toys which her son seldom played with. When he did not ask for them after three months, she phased them out as there was a good chance that he had forgotten about them.
2. Keep your child occupied
Packing and unpacking can be a challenge if you have to look after your child at the same time. To keep her son occupied, Mrs Lim gave him a box of scrap material which he could explore and use for craft. “As I do not give him this box often, he finds the contents interesting, and it holds his attention for a while. By giving him the box, I am also giving him a cue that ‘Mummy needs space’. He understands this and will give me the time to do what I need to do,” she shared.
You can keep an older child occupied by getting him involved in the move. Give him a sense of ownership by getting him to pack all his books and toys into a box, or asking him to wipe his bedframe. Be prepared that he will not be able to pack or clean up to your expectations, but praise him for his effort anyway.
3. Clear your freezer
If you are shifting your refrigerator to your new home, some movers will require you to defrost the freezer compartment the night before and dry it out. If you have a supply of expressed breast milk or frozen baby food, remember to use it up before the move or place it in an alternative freezer until your freezer is up and running at the new place.
4. Apply the “Last in First Out” Rule when unpacking
When you are packing, start with items that are least frequently used, such as Christmas decorations. Items which are required on a daily basis, like your breast pump, baby’s steam steriliser or toiletries, should only be packed on the day before your move.
Upon arrival at your new home, unpack these items first so that your daily life can carry on while you take your time to unpack the non-essential items.
5. Use plastic boxes or chest of drawers for toys and clothes
To avoid Junior asking for that toy at the bottom of box number 25 just after you have piled four other boxes on top of it, pack his clothes and toys in large plastic boxes or in plastic chest of drawers. These are light enough for the movers to carry without needing to be boxed up, and they can serve as permanent storage for toys in your new home. This saves you the trouble of packing clothes and toys into cardboard boxes and unpacking them in the new home. What’s more, Junior will have ready access to his clothes and toys even as you are busy unpacking the rest of your boxes.
6. Pack a luggage bag of essentials
Be prepared to live out of a luggage bag for several days while you set up your new home. Pack a luggage bag of essential items such as a change of clothes, toiletries, diapers, Junior’s medication and thermometer, Baby’s favourite soft toy and bolster, and a fresh set of bed linen.
7. Safe keep your important items
To avoid important items getting lost, stolen or misplaced during the move, pack them in a box and leave them in the care of someone who will not be involved in the move on that day. Items which go into this “Very Important Box” may include valuables, passports, your child’s birth certificate, health booklet, insurance policies and other certificates.
8. Minimise disruption to your child’s school routine
If your child is of school-going age, it is advisable to move during the school holidays to minimise disruption to his school routine. Mrs P. Goh, a mother-of-two, shifted house when her elder child was in Primary One. The home-maker shared, “We packed all my son’s school books, bags, uniform and stationary in a box and carried it to our new home personally so that the items would not get misplaced. We also planned our move such that we had time to unpack these items and set up his study table before school re-opened.”
It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the new route to school and to take note of the travel time so that you can make the necessary adjustments to your child’s routine.
9. Ensure that the essentials have been set up before moving
As far as possible, get your new home in a “working condition” before moving in. At the barest minimum, set up your washing machine and kitchen so that you can wash, cook and eat once you move in. Mrs Goh recalled: “For two weeks, we lugged a total of five wash loads of laundry to my in-laws’ place because we could not find a suitable hose to attach our washing machine to the tap at my new place. After we found the correct attachment, our new (and untested) washing machine broke down twice.”
It is also good to bring cleaning equipment to your new home before you move in as it is likely to be dusty. Until your toddler’s room is fully cleaned and unpacked, you may prefer to set up a play pen in a clean corner of your home where he can sleep and play, away from the dusty boxes.
10. Prepare convenient foods for the move
If you have a toddler who has yet to eat outside food, get ready a supply of convenient foods to tide your child over for the period of time when you are moving and are unable to cook for him. Mrs Goh had bananas, cereal, bread and baby jar food on hand so that her toddler would not go hungry.
11. Create a familiar environment in your new home
To help your child settle into his new home, bring along some familiar decorations, such as posters, from your old place. Some babies may be sensitive to the environment in their bedroom. They may not sleep well if the room there is a difference in brightness or temperature between their new and old rooms. Use curtains, night lights, fans or air-conditioners to achieve a similar environment to baby’s old room, and give him a week or two to get used to sleeping in his new room.