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How to ease transition for tots?

Haven't many of us been in Cindy's shoes?  Can you make suggestions for how she can help make a smooth transition with their toddler?

We will be heading up to Portland from San Francisco in three weeks with our 2.5 year old son and this is our first time moving long distance with a child. Can any mamas out there share advice on how to move with your toddler? What is the best way to help him cope with all the changes, from the physical move itself (boxes everywhere, packing away his things) to saying goodbye to friends, school and life as he knows it? What wisdom do you have on transitioning upon arrival in the City of Roses?

It's going to be difficult for all of us...we're very sad about leaving, but are super excited for Portland to become our home. It seems that many mamas on the list have been in our shoes before. Please, please, please share your experiences, resources on getting settled, etc. THANKS!

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Seriously?

What's "seriously"???

Anyway, we recently moved with a 3 year old and a 2 year old and it's not easy. First thing that hard is saying good bye. We promised to call, send pictures, etc. Our oldest misses her friends and wonders why we had to leave. We are honest... Daddy's job and then we try to point out the positives.. Closer to gramma and grampa! It takes a little time for them to acclimate.

It's really important to stay flexible. Our kids schedules, lives where turned upside down and inside out, so there where some behavioral issues. Make sure you have a reservoir of things to do on the fly. We had to have an extra amount of patience until they got used to their new environment.

Enlist help!! In-laws, whomever... You will need it if you intend to get moved in under 6 months without going craazzzyy. They get what's going on and that you need to unpack, etc., but as you would expect, they get tired of it and want to have fun. Yes, you can try to make it fun, but my kids wanted to go to the park already. So, it was great to have my Mom their to take them.

And, yea! You get to live in Portland!! There's so much to do with kids (or without). This site is a great resource for figuring that out. It's just a fantastic place to live. We moved from SF as well and really enjoyed our three years there.

Good luck.

We moved from NY to Portland over the summer. We knew for over a year that we were moving, so we had plenty of time to prep the boys (age 2 and 4 when we moved), focusing on what an adventure moving to a new city is. (My older son loves music, so we told him about the School of Rock here; we told the younger guy about all the parks, just something, anything, for the kiddos to focus on and get excited about.) I very slowly packed up the house, packing the kids room last.

We drove, caravan-style, with my father-in-law towing a trailer with all or our belongings (who knew almost everything we owned could fit in an 11'x7'x7' space?), but we were able to conserve the space in our car for our clothes and toys for the boys. I got each of the boy a giant see-through ziploc bag (like the kind on the commercials holding the sporting goods, but not quite as big) and they each got to fill it with special toys they wanted to keep with them. They each also got a backpack, which I filled with coloring books, crayons, etc., for the car. I also took them to BJs (a wholesale club) and let them pick out treats for the car (juice boxes, fruit snacks, trail mix, etc.). I was very conscious of being stuck in a car with two small boys for over 3,000 miles, and did everything I could to try to alleviate any boredom.

Before we left NY, we went on a family photo shoot, taking pictures of friends, family, landmarks, the ocean, our old house...anything we thought we would miss once we got to Portland. We also bought postcards to mail back to NY, although we actually didn't send any until we were already in Portland. My older son, especially, enjoyed "writing" and sending the postcards to his buddies in NY.

We also lucked out, because our first Portland neighbor has an awesome son who is in between my boys' ages (Erica--if you see this, I lost your number and I don't have that cell phone anymore!). An instant playmate definitely helped alleviate Eli's sadness at leaving his old best buddy in NY. Even if you don't luck out with the neighbor, though, take the kids to the closest park--chances are you'll meet someone who lives near you.

As far as unpacking, I set up the boys room first, trying (as much as was possible) to have it look like their old bedroom. I wanted them to have something familiar in a sea of new-ness, plus, having access to their toys kept them off my back while I was trying to unpack everything else.

It seems like moving with a little guy is the hardest thing ever, but really, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and they had so much fun exploring Portland it kept their minds off of missing NY.

Good luck!

My family moved from Portland to London, England last summer, when my girls were 2 and 4 months. We had professional movers at our home for 2 days, then we left with literally 350 pounds of luggage, 2 children with car seats and a cat...and flew first to Washington DC (where we stayed 3 days) and then on to London. And on top of that....we were staying in a short term rental for 2 weeks..during which we had to find a place to move in!

I can honestly say that while it did not seem to really affect THEM so much, moving with small children puts that much more stress on YOU. So difficult to organize, pack, unpack, etc on top of all that parenting stuff, remembering to change diapers, feed your children, etc.

Therefore, I don't mean to sound heartless about the kids...but don't worry about them so much. Children are flexible, and at that young age, they seem to go with the flow...as long as their parents stay as cool, calm and collected.

About packing up the house, it really affected my 1 yr old son when we moved here from Oklahoma. He seemed lost and confused and upset as the house emptied. So when we vacated our PDX rental for our permanent home, we sent him to stay with his grandparents for 3 days while we busted our butts and moved everything. When we picked him up and brought him home, the house was pretty well put together.

we moved to pdx from sf ourselves last year, at the time my boys were 2.5 and 6 mo.....first let me say - best move ever. pdx is so amazingly family friendly, i had no idea how lacking sf was in family/kids stuff until i moved here...you will love it!
as far as the move itself and the adjustment...we did it in stages, my husband and his friend came up 3 days before us to meet the truck, unpack and have our 2.5 yr olds room setup to some degree of normalcy.....then i drove, with both boys and our friend/babysitter from sf for help. we did the drive in 2 days (ashland is the perfect stop mid-way) and made sure to take plenty of rest/food/fun breaks along the way...when we arrived at our new home daddy was waiting, with dinner ready! it helped a lot to have him up here first....
we had a great group of mamas/friends in sf as well and i was so worried about leaving that too...i was crying the night before we drove here in my empty house thinking is this really what i should be doing? i had been in sf since 96 and couldn't imagine living anywhere else....now, over a year later i have been back to sf 3 times and 1 thing has become abundantly clear to me - i don't want to raise my kids there. i LOVE sf, who doesn't really? it's a rockin city with a liberal vibe and mellow weather...but now that i am here i forgot how much i love fall, and hot summers, other families on our block, my son riding his bike around with local kids, more/better parks than i could have ever imagined....and activities and school options that make sf look pretty slim (10 weeks of swimming at the JCC in the presidio cost me $360, 10 weeks of swimming here at my local community center cost me $40....)
The other thing i found was as my friends in sf had kids more and more families moved away - many up here even! Unless you have LOTS of $$$ SF is just a hard place to raise kids....we don't have lots but we are richer here in terms of support and community for our kids than we could have ever dreamed of.
Any move with kids is hard but as far as a soft place to land PDX is perfect and you will be pleasantly surprised but all the options and alternatives you find for your son and your family in general here.(At least i think so!!!!)
Best of luck......

We moved hear a little over a year ago from Northern California - four hours North of SF. We were not well prepared or organized. Two weeks before we moved here we thought we were moving to Austin, Texas... Just to give you an idea of the stability we were providing for our boys, aged 2 and 4. When we got here, the boys were flexible and pretty easy going. We stayed with family for about a month and dragged our kids with us while we looked at millions of houses. After about a month, we moved in to the house we chose, got settled pretty simply, and things felt good.

THEN, all of a sudden my kids (and me...) started to lose it. Out of the blue, they started asking for the old house and acting up with all kinds of behavioral issues. It seemed like things went badly after our family from California came to visit. My assumption is that they lost it because they were missing their loved ones and couldn't articulate their sadness. My advice is that you just give some thought to how similar visits might disrupt your children's adjustment period... and your own. Best of luck!

We moved here from SF about 3 years ago. Our little one was 19 months and he really hardly noticed I think. One yucky thing for us was a bout of croup and a trip to the ER during our first week here. I did have a pediatrician picked out and knew the plan for after hour problems plus I had checked hospital and ER details (and directions!) for our insurance. That was a huge help when we needed it in the middle of the night. Plus have the Advil, thermometer, humidifier, etc within easy reach!

I also recommend having a few really fun things planned for the first week. A trip to a great new park or the toddler room at OMSI or a trip to the zoo. Finding something fabulous in your new town helps ease the pain of the things left behind. Our guy was big into fire trucks at the time so we went on a couple visits to our new neighborhood fire station.

Leaving San Francisco was also hard for us. We had lived there for 12 years and had a 13 year old in middle school to move as well. I can honestly say it was the best decision we ever made. Portland is amazing and nobody will give you dirty looks when you bring your kids into a restaurant or coffee shop!

I think the transition is harder on the parents. All that moving is hard work and you have no idea where to get great take out, buy the things you need, etc. Perhaps you should book a massage for yourself and your husband!

Welcome and Good Luck!

When Philly was 2, we left nyc to move to Atlanta. I think she barely noticed, but we made it a priority to: 1) set up her room first and 2) try to keep a routine going for her. She was a very routine-loving tot, so getting her to bed at her bedtime & to nap at her naptime was very important for her.

When Philly was 3, we moved from Atlanta to Portland. This was a tougher move, because she was more congnizant about leaving a place she loved and friends she liked. Before we left, we had a pizza party at her school and we also had our own going-away party with some of the friends we made in our year there. When we moved, again, maintaining the routine and setting up her room first was top on our lists. Once in Portland, we also tried to enjoy our new city, do some touristy/new-resident things, do a lot of exploring and galavanting.

I completely agree with Rebecca's last comment: "Children are flexible, and at that young age, they seem to go with the flow...as long as their parents stay as cool, calm and collected."

Good luck with your move--it will be an upheaval for sure, but as you can see from everyone's comments, I dont think you'll regret it once it's said and done. We moved here almost 2 years ago from New England. We stayed in temporary housing for 6 weeks before we moved into our house. In some ways I think this made it harder for our son--we'd packed a few boxes of toys and things to be delivered to the apartment, but it still didnt feel like home to any of us. Seeing our empty house in MA, as well as our empty house full of boxes here did definitely freak him out a bit, but it wasnt too bad. I agree with the other posters, if you can get his room set up first, that's the best, and then get your living room with some toys set up and the kitchen next. Our 2 extra bedrooms were full of boxes for several months after we moved. I tended to try to organize and put away a box or two every afternoon while he was sleeping until we finally felt settled in. Sign up for some parks and recs classes in your new neighborhood now, so that you can jump right in when you get here to get him excited about all of the fun things to do here. I bought memberships on my first visits to Children's Museum, the Zoo and OMSI and we've been going a few times ever since. Welcome!

Wow! Thanks, everyone for the warm welcome and great tips. It has been amazing to read these comments and feel such overwhelming support from the community I'm about to join. Your encouragement is energizing me in a way I hadn't anticipated.

See you real soon at the park, zoo, OMSI...

I know it's over a year later but I also want to thank everyone for the information here. We've been toying with the idea of moving from the Bay Area to Portland for several years. I am getting closer and closer to doing it. We just started kindergarten here at an amazing school but we're renters and cannot afford to buy in our town. We are literally outpriced by a lot. Push has come to shove.

I am so afraid to leave our support networks here since I have lymphoma and when I'm sick, we really rely on our friends and family. Reading the comments from those of you who made the leap from here plants big seeds of courage. Thank you very much.

We will probably move in with my MIL until our son finishes kindergarten to pay some things off and save up some money. Then I hope to make the leap in the summer. Fingers crossed.

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