Moving is a shed-load of work at the best of times, but you should try doing it with a pre-terrible two-er and a threenager in tow.
The Lord is (and always has been) far too alert and perceptive for his age. I’m not boasting when I say this, if anything it is mightily frustrating for him (and us) because he doesn’t yet know how to deal with these ‘big feelings’. I’ve learnt the hard way that we can’t hide anything from our darling threenager, so we decided to talk to the Lord very early on about the move.
Fortunately, he adores his grandparents and has very accurate memories of our last trip to the UK at Christmas. He constantly talks about Nan and Granddad’s fluffy purple blanket and Granny Ev and Pop’s train track. He asks about Steve and Abi’s kitten, Dinah and wants to show his new Gordon train to Willem (sic.) and baby Thomas.
That said, change is a tough cookie to chew for any of us, especially for toddlers because their immediate surroundings are the only world they know. They trust everything Mummy and Daddy say and love the strangest things with enviable innocence.
We have been careful to involve both boys, but predominantly the Lord, in pretty much all aspects of the move. They’ve ‘helped’ photograph their old toys so we can donate and sell them. The Lord has taken old clothes to the donation station so he can ‘help people with no clothes’. We have talked at length and frequently about living with Nan and Granddad until Mummy and Daddy find a new home. Both the boys have picked the colour they want their new bedrooms to be and decided which character bedding they want (Thomas for the Lord and Paw Patrol for the General).
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, but I think we’ve done a pretty thorough job of preparing them for the biggest change of their fledgling lives. As a recap, here are my top six tips for preparing your toddler for a big change:
- Honesty. Tell them the truth even if they won’t like it. Initially, there might be resistance or upset but in the long run you can work things through together.
- Why. Explain why the change is happening. Again, this might cause some anxiety at first but tots like to understand the reason behind everything (we’ve all been through the why phase – what a joy!)
- Repetition. Beat them at their own game! Toddlers repeat things in order to fully process them. It also helps to normalise the forthcoming change.
- Consequences. Tell them what the change means to them. Explain how it will directly affect them and their world.
- Responsibility. My man cubs love to feel like they are helping, it’s their way of pretending to be grown up. Give them a specific task to do or let them help you with yours. The Lord loves to collect the money from my Kijiji buyers and often tells them why we are selling our things.
- Reassurance. Miniature humans are like dogs, they smell fear a mile off. Make sure you are positive about the change and discuss it in happy, simple terms they will understand.
Now watch this space in a couple of months’ time to find out how epically I have failed to prepare the Lord and the General and see how our court-ordered family counselling is going!