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15 Things That Lessen the Stress of Moving With Toddlers

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So you’re moving. With small kids. Congrats!

My husband’s new job just took our family from Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts. Schlepping our lives 3000 miles across the country was a big undertaking for us adults – and an even bigger deal for our just-turned-three-year-old son.


We knew we wanted to do this move the right way for him. Here are a few tricks we discovered (some intentionally, some through trial and error) that might help to smooth the process for you and your little ones, too.

1 | When you first share the news, draw pictures of their new room together. What color will they paint the walls? How are they going to decorate? Where will the bed go? Let them share in the excitement as they look forward to making it their own.

2 | Print out a paper calendar of the month leading up to the move and cross off each day as it passes. This can make the few weeks’ worth of “lasts” (e.g. last day of school, last sleep at the old house) and “firsts” (e.g. first airplane flight, first day at their new childcare) feel more manageable.

3 | Check out library books about moving. We found a few favorites that emphasized the adventure and excitement of moving to a new home – try “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day,” or “The GoodPie Party,” for starters. Keep an eye out for the negative ones, though. Some, like “Little Critter: We Are Moving” or “Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going To Move” introduced feelings of fear, resistance, and dread that our son wasn’t otherwise feeling. No need to go there if they’re not already feeling angst-y.

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4 | Ship favorite puzzles, toys, and books ahead of time so the kids have something to play with when you arrive. We packed a suitcase full of beloved toys and games and shipped it before leaving Oregon. Our moving truck took two weeks to drive cross-country, but we flew eastward in just one day, so it was wonderfully helpful that our little guy already had familiar books and puzzles to play with while his father and I were unpacking and settling into our new place.

5 | Never ever ever take a redeye or it will mess with their sleep for a week afterward. We made this mistake and regretted it immediately. Even though an overnight flight feels efficient, if your kid is anything like mine he’ll be so delighted and overstimulated watching airplane movies at 2 a.m. that he’ll miss a solid night of sleep. And everyone will suffer from dealing with a tired, cranky kid (and family) for days to come. Sleep is sacrosanct – especially in times of great transition. Don’t mess with it.

6 | Have the kids decorate your moving boxes. Stock up on stickers, markers, and crayons in the days before the big move. Give the gang a functional art project to keep them busy and happy while you’re frantically throwing stuff in boxes. Bonus: your moving boxes look sparkly and fab.

7 | Don’t make a bunch of plans or sign up for classes right away – especially if you’re moving across time zones. I signed our son up for parent-child Waldorf preschool and swimming lessons starting two days after we arrived, thinking they’d be good opportunities to dive in and build community right away. The first week, he slept through them all (thanks to the three-hour time difference). Guess I should’ve given him a week to adjust before jumping into activities. #parentfail

8 | Get babysitters. On both ends. Don’t be shy about this. Even if you use that time to catch up on your abandoned inbox or sort through old sweatpants, everyone benefits from a little playtime with someone fresh. Once we landed in Boston, we asked neighbors for trusted babysitter references and used Care.com to find another. Moving can be intense and emotional for big AND small people, so getting a little support is good for everyone.

9 | Stay on schedule as much as possible. Deify naps. Aim for consistency. Honor your regular rhythms and routines. This will offer a solid foundation in the midst of a great deal of change. Everybody does better when they’re rested.

10 | Pack snacks. Whether you’re prepping for a five-hour flight or a 12-hour car ride: pack snacks. Low blood sugar makes for cranky humans. Good, healthy snacks will go a long way, especially in places like airports and gas stations where they can be hard to find. Almonds, cashews, roasted seaweed, raisins, hummus, and chopped veggies helped us stave off a moving diet of 24/7 french fries.

11 | If you’re spending a lot of time in the car traveling or house hunting, bring along audiobooks to make the car time more bearable. A few entertaining picture books with CD accompaniment can keep the kids entertained in the backseat while you’re navigating new neighborhoods and tussling with your GPS in the front.

12 | Seek out familiarity and continuity wherever you can find it. Even grocery stores will do! We hit up Trader Joe’s as soon as the dust settled. It was comforting to find the same old favorite foods we’d loved in Portland right here in Boston, and our son was delighted to play the familiar “find the hidden mascot” game (and to celebrate with the same bright-colored lollipop prize he knew from before). Little things can go a long way in making someplace new feel like home.

13 | Take advantage of public spaces. I can’t emphasize this enough. Get a library card first thing. Make friends with the librarians. Mark the storytime schedule in your calendar and force yourself to attend, even if you’re not feeling up for it. You’ll meet a lot of other cool parents, grandparents, and caregivers who also operate on a toddler’s schedule.

Use the park for parental reconnaissance. Brave the awkward hellos (I’m talking to you, fellow introverts!) and strike up a conversation about the easiest day trips, the best preschools, and the most convenient indoor play spaces.

14 | Create new rituals right away. Find a new spot for Saturday night ice cream and introduce yourself to the cafe owners. Research local churches if you’re the religious type, and make attending on Sunday mornings a priority. Scope out local sports schedules and hit up a game first thing. (We bought tickets for a Red Sox night game just four days after moving, when our son was still on Pacific Standard Time, and had a wonderful time; his body still thought it was 4 p.m.!)

Don’t forget maintain your old standing rituals. Our usual Friday night movie night has stayed consistent whether we were in Portland or Boston.

15 | Stay in touch with the folks you’ve left behind. FaceTime with abandon. Send snail mail to the friends, family, and classmates you’ve left behind. Maintain those relationships for your sake, and your children’s. You’ll be glad you did.

As my good friend Cara once told me when she completed a cross-country move from Boston to San Francisco, think of it less as leaving your old life behind and more as expanding your world, gaining new family, friends, and life stories along the way.

We just get richer for the adventure. Enjoy.

And take a nap. You’ll need one.

 

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

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Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.

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"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

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The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

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"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

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6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being a perfectionist has naturally been part of who I was since as long as I can remember. I could blame living in the continental U.S., where perfectionism is highly esteemed, or the family dynamics that come with growing up in a household of five women.

Deep down, though, I think it all really stems from a deep and instinctual longing to be loved, accepted and approved. Whatever the reason, it has never really been a part of me that I considered a problem.

That is, until, I became a mom.

When I had my first child, I did the best I could to keep it all together, to prevent people from seeing how my perfection was being pulled apart at the seams.

A nap schedule was, of course, essential. My son was easygoing and slept through the night like an angel baby. My house was still spotless and I managed to somehow work part-time and keep healthy meals on the table every night, but I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding.

Since I took this failure as a great assault at my abilities to properly nurture my child, I let mom guilt run rampant over the issue. I decided I would just step up my perfect-parenting game in another way by pumping breastmilk around the clock until my son was around 18 months old.

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For anyone who has ever exclusively pumped, you know it can become total madness and take away the joy of feeding your child.

Managing a toddler was definitely wild, but with my background in pediatrics, I knew how to keep him busy while I kept things "under control." In other words, with just one child, I could still play the part of being perfect. All was fine until I became a mom of two children. It wasn't long after my daughter was born that I realized I needed to start letting go of perfection.

I was living alone in a new city with no help and my husband worked long hours. Managing a 2-year-old and a newborn, all while trying to keep a perfectly clean house and healthy dinners on the table every night, was, to my surprise, impossible in every way. My body was a wreck, not "bouncing back" as it did with my first. My daughter never slept for more than three hours until she was over a year old. She cried for hours on end most nights, as I tried relentlessly to calm her.

I remember bouncing her in her carrier for hours trying to get her to calm down and settle in for sleep. Meanwhile, I was a zombie and my son tore every square inch of the house into pieces. Keeping a naptime schedule was nearly impossible with another child to consider. Dinner was often takeout. There were days when I didn't look in the mirror or have proper clothing on until 5 pm.

The demands of motherhood laughed at my idea of picture-perfect motherhood. Every night I went to bed feeling like I had failed my children. I cried. Oh man, did I cry.

It wasn't long until I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a good mom, that is, to focus on things that are actually important, I had to stop sweating all the small stuff.

Even though I didn't really know how I was relieved that I didn't have to keep up with myself anymore. I had grown so weary of the high standards I had set for myself and those around me. I wanted a way out of the perfectionist trap and to loosen the reigns.

I realized that the most beautiful encounters with my children had been when I decided to say, "Oh, don't worry about it!" (i.e. the house, dinner, naptime schedules, etc). Love and joyful encounters with my children was incomparable to the latter. I knew my children needed me to look at them and not the 3-day- old stain on the dining room floor. The beauty in the moments, when I intentionally chose stillness and gratitude over productivity, was the reason I decided it was time to lay down a life-long pattern of perfectionism and control.

The problem was, I didn't really know where to start. I had been living this way for more than three decades. But I did know that I needed to start somewhere. So I started practicing being imperfect. Just like I had been teaching my 4-year old son. "The only way to get better at something is by practicing," I would tell him.

So, I did. And so I still am, practicing being imperfect.

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