Relocating is one of the most stressful life changes families will experience, even more so when you add kids into the mix. Packing boxes and getting everything ready for your move with toddlers around can seem like an impossible task. You know the scene: You’re trying to pack clothing and lift heavy boxes, but they want to play and see everything that’s going on. But
packing doesn’t have to be a chore, mama.
Try these playful interventions whenever you’re struggling to keep your little one entertained.
1. Create special time.
Believe it or not, children want to help us. When they feel disconnected to us their behavior can go off-track. That whining, moaning, tantrumming toddler is sending out a red flag that says, ”Help! I need connection!”
So before spending a day packing boxes, be proactive and connect with your child. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and tell your child it’s their special time and they can choose whatever they’d like to do with you. As you play, shower your child with attention, so their cup is filled. This helps them to internalize a sense of connection to you, so they are less likely to demand it in challenging ways and get in the way when you need to focus.
2. Host a packing party.
Put on some music and make packing fun! Give your child their own box, and allow them some freedom to pack their own toys themselves—even if you go back and rearrange things later. Don’t seal all the boxes so they still have access to toys to play with. And remember that they’re bound to get distracted and start playing with every. single. toy. they pack away. Make sure they’re occupied so you can continue packing.
3. Try giggle parenting.
Giggle parenting is when you get a child to laugh to ease the tension. If you notice your child getting bored, or frustrated, giggle parenting can ease tensions, and give your child mini doses of connection to help their behavior stay on track.
For example, maybe you playfully say, ”I really need to pack this big object,” then you attempt to place your child in a box and exclaim, ”oh no, that’s not an object, that’s [insert child’s name!]” Or pick up a dirty sock and say with a playfully inviting tone, ”I really don’t want this sock to be packed” and put it on the floor. Cue your child trying to pack the smelly sock, and you can act playfully annoyed, and retrieve it from the box. Repeat as the long as the giggles keep coming,
It’s the perfect antidote to situations where they feel powerless and out of control. Spending 5-10 minutes being playful at various intervals throughout the day can help shift the feeling that something big is happening.
4. Pack with a puppet.
5. Use reverse psychology.
Good old-fashioned reverse psychology works wonders when trying to distract little ones. Say to your child in a playful way that you’d really like them to leave their toys on the floor, and not pack them. Then leave the room. They are bound to take this as an opportunity to pack things up, and you can pretend to be upset that they didn’t listen.
6. Turn packing into a race.
Older toddlers love to win so why not set up challenges to get them moving and competing? Have a race to see who can pack five things the fastest. Make it a close call but let them win, and act playfully disappointed when you lose. You could also try setting a timer to see how many things can be packed in 5 minutes or how long it can take to pack a whole box.
Use a trolley or a toy stroller to act as a delivery service. Ask your child to bring you items to pack. Pretend play gives them a sense of purpose, and a fun, novel way to be involved.
8. Take a break outside.
At some point during a full day of packing or moving, get outside, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Have a playful game of chase in your yard, or go to a local park. This can really help shift grumpy moods.
9. Stop for tantrums.
At some point during the day, tears and tantrums may come up. You may be tempted to stop tantrums, but this is counterproductive as it may just postpone the upset. Crying is a healing process for children, a natural way to release stress and tension, so the best thing you can do is listen and empathize. Be the lighthouse guiding your child out of the stormy seas of their emotions, and when they recover they will feel well-connected to you, and be much more willing to help in the process.
10. Remember to relax.
Do something for yourself, mama. Order takeout. End your day with snuggles and bedtime stories. Packing and moving with toddlers can be one of the most challenging jobs you can do, so well, done, you did it.