It's said that three of the biggest stresses in a person's life include giving birth, taking a new job and moving. Moving while pregnant, or postpartum and with a child in tow, can be exceptionally stressful. Here are 10 strategies to save your sanity.
Start planning-and packing-now. If you know you're moving three months from now, don't wait two-and-a-half months before you start planning. Unless you've experienced pregnancy complications, moving activities shouldn't pose a problem to your health or your baby's.
1. Get the little ones involved. As soon as possible, explain to your toddler or preschooler, in an age-appropriate manner, that the family will soon be living in another place. Check books out from the library so he can read about a child and a move. Also, let him pack a few of his own things and then doodle on the boxes that contain his stuff. That way, he'll recognize the boxes on the other end.
2. Pack like a pro. Start with less frequently used items, such as off-season clothing or your wedding china. Combine things that are used together, such as dishes with glassware, towels with sheets or baby's bibs with sippy cups.
3. Before you box up everything, gather personal records and important papers, such as birth certificates, medical records, passports and bank records. You'll want to keep these with you at all times. Also, set aside items you'll need immediately in your new home-everything from baby's favorite binkie to toilet paper to light bulbs. Pack these essentials to take with you in your car.
4. Begin networking before you leave. Your Realtor, if you're working with one, may be a good resource in helping you locate child care facilities or a preschool. Your current pediatrician, primary-care physician and obstetrician/gynecologist are all great resources for new doctors for your family. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a pediatric referral service, which you can access at aap.org/referral/.
5. Say goodbye. Plan a going-away party with the children from your toddler's playgroup as well as some of your own friends. Help your toddler view the move in a positive light by talking excitedly to family and friends about the wonderful new place where you'll be living.
6. Get help. Because moving day can be hectic, plan to have someone-friend, relative or babysitter-available to watch your baby or toddler. If you're pregnant or postpartum, hiring professional packers and movers may be your best bet to prevent you from overdoing it.
7. Hit the road prepared. Make sure your diaper bag is well stocked with extras in case of emergencies and pack plenty of snacks and toys to keep everyone happy. If you're pregnant, take along plenty of water so you can stay hydrated, too, and don't forget to stop every couple of hours to walk around.
8. Create a safe haven. Make sure you do a quick safety check of the house before you start unpacking. Cover electrical outlets and install child-safety locks on cabinets. It's also a good idea to install night lights throughout your new house to prevent you from going bump in the night or your kids from being scared and disoriented in the dark.
9. Meet the neighbors. See if your Realtor can introduce you to people, or make plans to take evening walks so you can bump into your neighbors. Also, visit the local playground regularly or join a neighborhood association or house of worship.
10. Make yourselves at home. Unpack and set up your child's room first to make him feel more secure. Seeing his toys and furniture from the old house will make him more comfortable in the new one.
Leah Ingram is a writer and mother of two.