I originally wrote this as an email to my husband with the subject heading “8 Reasons Why People are Crazy to Move Right After They Have a Baby”. It was more of a venting kind of post, but he thought that I might be able to actually give some advice and tips on moving with babies to other people and help them know what to expect when you move right after you have a baby.
In the 8 years I have been married we have moved over a dozen times. 8 of those times I was pregnant, and twice we moved with newborn babies that were less than two weeks old.
Some of our moves were voluntary. We wanted out of a bad contract, needed a bigger place to live, wanted to live closer to family, etc. Other moves were necessary for financial reasons or because of a new job.
For me I would never volunteer to move right after having a baby. Both of my moves with new babies were out-of-my-control.
My first time move with a newborn was when my husband was offered a job out-of-State. I was 38 ½ weeks pregnant with our third child at the time, and since we didn’t have enough time to change out-of-State insurance and doctors I ended up staying in Idaho with our two little kiddos while Jim worked in Utah. I had the baby up in Idaho (Don’t worry, Jim came up for it!), and when our baby was 1 ½ weeks old I loaded the kids up in our van & moved to Utah to be with Jim.
My second move with a newborn happened more recently. Last January we moved to Nebraska from California when I was 8 months pregnant. We were warned by his new job that there was a housing shortage in the town, and we soon learned it was not an exaggeration. After searching for a while we miraculously were able to buy a house, but the earliest we could close on it and move in to it was two days before my due date. Funny enough, this stressed my loan officer out so much that she worked hard to move our date up a few more days to give me a little more time to get things ready for the baby.
James was told to give ten days notice to the movers so they would have time to get here. I decided to give them 21 days notice. I soon found out that Jim had been misinformed, and that we actually needed to give them thirty days notice. The soonest the movers could arrive with our stuff was a week after we closed on the house, or 3 days after my due date.
We ended up buying our house, still lived in temporary housing until we had the baby, and then the day after we got home from the hospital our movers arrived with our things and we were able to move in to our new home!
In both of my circumstances the timing of the moves was not ideal and caused quite a bit of stress on my end. I think the only reason I survived both times was because of the amazing, unselfish help from family.
These experiences have helped me realize that there are certain things to expect when moving with a new baby and also things that we can do to have a smoother transition. Without further ado, 5 truths on what to expect when you move with a brand new baby.
Truth #1 – Expect to feel overwhelmed. Every mother handles adjusting to a new baby differently. For me I was happy, but also sore, sleep-deprived, and emotional. To add to how you are feeling with a new baby, you also now have the huge task of moving and all the work in store for you with unpacking and organizing a new home. That last-burst-of-energy you had right before you delivered your baby will be long gone.
Tip #1 – Prepare for the move the best you can. The more warning you have with the move, the more time you have to get ready for it. If you know you will be moving with a new baby and need to pack up your home, set a goal to have a lot of the packing done before the baby arrives. All the fun make-ahead meals come in handy with a new baby and a move. Try to plan ahead so you can focus on your baby and taking baby steps unpacking, instead of trying to do everything last minute. Feeling a little organized helps with feeling less overwhelmed.
Truth #2 – Expect to feel unproductive. I used to tell Jim that I felt all the moving boxes around my room that I had to look at every day were taunting me, making me feel absolutely useless. I spent a lot of time sitting in my rocking chair holding a baby, feeding a baby, burping a baby, trying to get baby to sleep, back to holding baby, and then doing the cycle all over again. When I did get a chance to be baby-free I usually only had a few minutes to sneak in some “me” time. When I had time after showering or taking care of the other children I could only usually get one box unpacked before baby needed me again. One box a day out of hundreds definitely doesn’t make you feel like you are accomplishing much.
Tip #2 – Ask for help. If you aren’t being productive because your baby requires a lot of your time, ask a friend or family member to come over and hold your baby for a short time so you can get some things done. They probably will be more-than-willing to hold a new baby, and you can actually tackle unpacking!
At the time of our move my husband was working two jobs, so he was gone from 7:30 a.m. until a little before midnight every day. Since he worked so many hours he also didn’t come home for lunch but slept in his car to try to catch up on sleep. I knew I should ask for help, but I felt awkward about it. If I could do it all again I would just swallow my pride and let people know I needed help.
Truth #3 – Expect Your Kids to Make Huge Messes. If you are like me, your family will fall in to what I like to call “survival mode”. Dishes won’t always be washed right away, toys won’t always be picked up, and other normal routines will slide. Add to the mix fifty moving boxes that your kids will undoubtedly sift through, and you have yourself a world-class disaster zone.
Tip #3 – Pack up a few “essentials” boxes that you can get to and unpack your first night and label your boxes well. Pack your essentials boxes with things you will need right away, like bed sheets, shower curtains, towels, soap, toiletries, first aid kit, and basic kitchen items.
My mom was a rock-star when she got us set up for the night our first night in our new house, but I did a terrible job with labeling boxes. We had to open a lot of boxes before we found the right items we needed, which of course led to my kids emptying said boxes in a matter of minutes. You can’t avoid messes entirely, but not having to search through boxes you aren’t ready to unpack would definitely help.
Truth #4 – Expect visitors, even when you might not feel up for it. Family and friends will want to meet your brand new baby and check out your new house. I remember feeling a little anxious about the prospect of a lot of visitors coming, but it wasn’t enough for me to tell them to wait to come. This last move I had six families come to visit us from out-of-State, all separate times within a month after we bought the house and had the baby. It actually turned out to be really nice because when I felt sad after one family left I would cheer up knowing I would see another sibling a few days later. (When we first moved I felt pretty homesick for family).
Tip #4 – If your family comes to visit, ask them to help you unpack or organize your house while they are there! Let them know that you still have a lot of work to do on the house and tell them you will put them to work when they come. Put together a to-do list of things they can help you with or things you want to get done. You’ll be surprised at how helpful people will be when they know you need it.
My mother unpacked all of my kid’s rooms, as well as my entire kitchen and cooked meals. She put up my blinds in the front room, installed new door locks, and helped me paint a room. My grandparents-in-law brought made-ahead meals & deep cleaned my entire house from top to bottom before we moved in. My older sister brought dinner with her so I didn’t have to cook. My brother came to visit when Bella was a week old and I put him to work installing blinds for my room and babysitting my kids when I went to the doctors office. Another brother came to visit and stayed up a few nights helping us put together toy storage shelves. Getting help while they visit is a huge help!
If you don’t feel up to having visitors, let them know. Simply ask them to give you a little time to adjust and get settled before coming to visit, but let them know you really do want to see them and are excited for their visit.
Truth #5 – Expect to feel embarrassed when people visit you. You will have nice, well-meaning neighbors and friends stop by to check up on you and drop off meals. They will see your undecorated walls and piled-up dishes. You may have out-of-town guests that will get a full-on tour of your home. They will get to see your kid’s messy bedrooms and bed mattresses that are still on the floor because you haven’t found time to put together the bed frames. You will feel self-conscious, no matter how many pep-talks you give yourself that they don’t care.
Tip #5 – When you have time to clean or organize a part of your home, focus on your kitchen and your front room. When you have unexpected guests these will be the main areas they will see, and they will be none-the-wiser of the disaster the rest of your home is. Luckily, most people that ask for a tour of the new house are usually closer friends or family members, and just keep telling yourself that they understand you just had a baby. Try to give yourself a free pass. Just this once you are off the hook for a messy house.
Moving can be a hard, stressful event. Having a new baby always takes some time adjusting to. Adding them together can really make life interesting for a while.
The good news is that you will survive. No matter how hard it is, eventually the craziness of the move and having a baby will pass by and you will get through it.
Eventually your boxes will get unpacked. Your baby will let you put her or him down. You will figure out what to do with all the toys that are piled in cardboard moving boxes in the corner and your books and movies that have sat stagnant for months in your office. You will find time and energy to make that trip to the furniture store to buy some couches to sit on so you can retire the camping chairs in your family room. You will stop at a garage sale and find a dresser so you can stop living out of your suit case.
Be kind to yourself and to others. Ask for help if you can. Remember this time in your life so you are kinder and more serviceable to others who find themselves in similar situations.
It may take a few months, but eventually you will get to the point where you start being productive again and can tackle more and more. Someday soon you will be able to push through your exhaustion.
Don’t give up. You just need a little time.