Moving house with a newborn

Moving house with a newborn

This is one of those swerves I was talking about in my last post. A jump ahead to the present day, where baby is born and bonny and presenting all kinds of fun new challenges on a daily basis.

Due to her arrival, we decided we needed more room. Our first home wasn’t tiny by any means – but we are people who collect lots of stuff, and my partner’s side hustle as a YouTube board game reviewer involved a lot of shelf space and filming equipment. With a tiny person on the way, we needed a whole new room (for her) and a new setup (for the gear, which could be locked away out of reach of tiny hands and mouths).

So we sold our house, and bought a new one, and I won’t bore you with the stressful saga that is trying to buy and sell property as the country leaps into level 4 and 3 lockdowns. Suffice it to say that despite recent changes by the government, it’s still an investors’ game out there, especially if you’re looking at places with sleepouts or separate living areas which can be flipped into additional rentals.

But we got very lucky. One acceptable offer came through on our house, and a perfect candidate cropped up a few weeks (filled with nightmarish dreams of temporary homelessness) later, and we made a (slightly padded) offer, and were accepted.

Throughout this process we had a lot of our stuff in boxes – some in a storage unit and the rest packing out our garage, so the house itself could be staged (made to look like no house anyone actually lives in, but people might aspire to) and kept super-duper clean.

That was the first challenge. Babies come with a lot of stuff, and we couldn’t exactly ask her to tighten her belt and only throw up on 50% as many outfits as normal to save us shelf space. There was no wiggle room to let the laundry pile up just a little – everything got done the day it got dirty. And once we got to the point of moving, well – it’s easy enough for adults to say “I’m going to live out of this single suitcase for a week”. For a baby, everything pretty much has to remain available to hand right up until the last minute.

The move itself, that’s where the logistical nightmare kicks in. The movers are going to arrive at a certain time and for a big block of it, you need to be there, amongst increasingly decreasing furniture, in order to advise on any tricky items (our sofa simply would not fit out the door without the legs being screwed off) and lock up after them before driving to the new place for the unpacking.

I ended up breastfeeding baby at one point cross-legged on the floor and I’m just glad she decided to cooperate with that.

The baby simply takes up space, as well. If you’ve got delicate items to move, or ran out of time and threw a lot of things into unclosed boxes or reusable shopping bags (purely hypothetically, asking for a friend) having to ferry the little one in their capsule to and from the new house cuts a whole car seat’s worth of space out of your capacity. By the time you’ve spent eight hours shuttling things back and forth and trying to figure out how it all fits in a new space, you really, really don’t want to have to do just one more trip.

What saved us was whānau. Specifically, my mother. She rocked up early the day of the move, and became primary Baby Wrangler for the day, except for feeding times. She was also able to ferry my partner – a non-driver – to the new house so he could be there to direct the movers bringing everything in.

(She also took it upon herself to thoroughly re-clean the entire kitchen and dismantle the broken cutlery drawer but that’s more of a bonus feature, as was her partner doing some unschedule carpentry work to make sure our fridge would fit in the cabinets.)

The thing is, we have a “good” baby. She’ll amuse herself most of the time, grizzles only when she’s hungry or tired or wet, and for long stints doesn’t necessarily need us to be around (unless her social meter is getting low). She even gives me enough breaks – short and unpredictable as they might be – to write a few blog posts. But when you’re going through a massive process like house moving, a baby, no matter how “good”* they are, is just another potential stress point to divide your attention, on top of a dozen other potential stress points. Having another adult around who can just be The One Looking After Baby, who will let you know when you are needed, was a huge mental relief.

The TLDR: it’s always handy to have an extra pair of hands around to take care of baby, and this is never truer than during a massive process like house moving. It’s not revolutionary, but the past couple of weeks have really made me appreciate how much of a difference it makes.

Oh, and pack the nappy bag as though you were going out for a long trip – so you’re not panicking about where the wipes or the baby balm are after a very tiring day!

~

*I hate the way we talk about “good” babies versus “fussy” or “naughty” babies but it’s a useful shorthand.

Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash

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