Tips For Packing With A Toddler
I might be one of the few people in world who loves to pack. It is a chance to plan, purge, reorganize, and start fresh. Packing up a whole house and an entire family is the ultimate in packing thrills! Fitting the things into a box is like a giant 3D tetras puzzle. It makes my inner type-A perfectionist happy. Throwing away junk that has not been used in a year makes my inner minimalist happy. Overall, it just makes me happy!
But for some, dare I say for most, it can be overwhelming – especially for children. It is tumultuous and disruptive. It takes their routine and warps it beyond recognition and children love routine. Routines make them feel safe and secure. It allows them to predict things. When we began to pack, I paid special attention to Cillian, and found a few things that seems to help him take the transition a little better.
Tip #1 Speak to him often about what is happening.
Use real words and be clear. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that toddlers are smarter than we think, and pick up on more than we realize. Speak to your toddler as if he will understand. Tell him that you are putting your things into a box to take to a new house and that you are all going together. Speak simply and positively and try not to let him see you stress about it! Anything that upsets mom is sure to upset a toddler.
Tip #2 Use words repetitively.
Using words repetitively can reassure a toddler, add some routine, and help them understand. Choose simple words or a phrase to represent what is going on. For us, the words I chose were “New house” and “pack.” I told him we were getting a new house and that things needed to be packed in a box for the new house. I told him and we were all going to a new house soon. Any time I was packing, I asked him what he would like to pack. Usually it was his rabbit and his “dog stick,” you know, just the essentials.
TIp #3 Do not tease about his toys.
Do no tease about his favorite toys or stuffed animals being put in boxes. I learned this one the good old fashion hard way. If you plan to pack “friends”, consider doing it after he is in bed. Or, be firm and clear. Tell him that his friends needs to be in a box for the new house. Pack them quickly, seal the box, and be done with them. Do not ask if his friends can go into the box, make a big deal about saying goodbye, take those friends out of the box, pretend to make them cry and call for help and then seal them in the box only to pull them out when the meltdown ensues. That will most likely lead to apprehension towards the box and the whole packing thing in general.
Tip #4 Let him be involved!
I am all about letting the miniature member of the family help as much as he is able. When packing, have him fetch you smaller things and show him how to put them in the box. Let him “help” hold the box closed while you tape it. Let him climb into boxes or push the suit cases around for a minute. We gave C my smallest rolling suitcase and told him to go pack important things for the new house. Not only did this give us a few uninterrupted minutes, but I think it helped Cillian see that there is nothing scary about what we are doing. Plus, it is so cute when he bring the suitcase back with one stuffed animal and book. We get to see where his priorities lie!
I have always been of the mind that toddlers are tiny humans (rather than some strange creature we call a baby) and, like any human, they want to be aware of what is going on. The more we can help them understand, the less stressful it will be on them and also for us!