Have you moved homes since having kids? Did you WANT to move, or was it a move of necessity?
Moving houses can push you to the brink of sanity, anyway, but add in kids and it’s a whole new circus! Unpacking starts with questions of, “Hey honey, where do you want me to put the coffee pot?” (how about in the garage, where we normally keep our kitchen appliances!) and quickly dissolves into a barrage of, “Mom, did you find my stuffed animal yet that accidentally got packed? You said I could have it when we got to the new house and now we’re here!” “Have you seen the box cutter? I know it was sitting here on the countertop a few minutes ago when the kids were playing in here…” and if you’re lucky, the day ends with, “My bedroom doesn’t look like my old room and I don’t like it. I want to sleep with you!”
If you’ve recently moved, or are preparing to, it can be hard to imagine the day that your new house will finally feel like home. And even once you’ve unpacked all of the boxes and finally found your dish drying rack neatly wrapped up in the train of your wedding gown, something about your new space can feel a bit “off”. A lot of that comfort comes with time of course; making happy memories, decorating it just right, celebrating a holiday or birthday in a space are all things that evoke those “home” emotions, but aren’t necessarily going to happen within the first week of move-in day. And nothing about mountains of boxes feels homey, for sure!
But, you don’t have to wait for every single box and piece of packing paper to be put away to begin feeling settled. If I waited for that, our current house of more than two years still wouldn’t be home! In our (almost) 10 years of marriage, we’ve moved four times, as well as making a short term apartment rental our home 3 times. Here are some of my best tricks for making a space feel like home sweet home – if even just for five weeks at a time!
- Print a happy family photo you can put up right away. Hang it on the fridge with a magnet or prop it up on the kitchen countertop, just make sure that it’s somewhere that everyone in your home can see it and be reminded that home is where you are together, not a particular address. I find it’s best if this picture is in a neutral setting if possible, not in the home you left behind. If you’re moving cross country/globe, snap a picture in front of the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine on the way. If you’re moving across town, take a photo at your favorite restaurant that you will still be able to eat at, even if it’s a five-minute longer drive. It doesn’t have to be the best family picture ever taken, just one that makes you smile when you see it!
- Make it smell like home. This one starts before you’ve moved, if possible. Scent is a powerful thing, and we often attach a particular scent to home. Maybe it’s a candle, oil diffuser, your husband’s workout socks….whatever your thang is, make that smell present in your home for the few weeks before the move. Once you’ve arrived at your new place, break out those gym socks and suddenly your new space seems a bit more familiar!
- Bump up the curb appeal. Add something to the front of your new home that says “this place is ours” when you pull up. It does not have to be expensive! If you have a front door wreath you already love, make sure you pack it with your luggage that doesn’t go in the moving truck. Or, if it’s pretty weather, pick up a small planter flower pot or plant your own while you’re waiting for your moving truck to arrive (as some time this can take weeks!). You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes when you have to run out to the grocery store for the third time that day, and are able to easily pick out your house because of a personal touch as you pull up. Speaking of grocery stores….
- Figure out your closest grocery store and learn how to get there without the GPS. Being able to confidently get to and from a grocery store at 5 am when you need children’s Tylenol, orange Gatorade, and Lysol wipes, as we all know, is important!
- Pick one room that you’re going to prioritize unpacking first. Playroom, living room, maybe the kitchen – declare it the safe zone for the family, keep it free of as much box and unpacking clutter as possible, and take your recharging breaks in this space. Things don’t have to stay forever where you put them, but having one space that feels calm and normal is invaluable to the kids and by association, you. If I have more things that need to go in that space after I’ve initially set it up, I try to keep it all boxed right outside the room, and I will unpack it all after I have fully set up my kids rooms so that they have another space they can retreat to.
- Make dinner at home. I know this sounds nuts when you’re surrounded by the chaos of moving, and maybe that first night (or 5) you just need to escape the insanity of unpacking for an hour and go to a restaurant to eat. If that’s what you need, DO IT! But, once you can tolerate it, make a dinner in your kitchen, sit on the floor with boxes as tables, and eat together. Frozen pizzas that cook directly on the rack are made for these moments, people, and there ain’t no shame in the paper plate game! It’s amazing what a meal as just your family without interruptions can do. As a side note, a home with lots of boxes and out of place furniture makes for an epic game of hide and seek!
- Wave hi to your new neighbors! You don’t need to necessarily go introduce yourself – or expect them to – right away, but being friendly opens the communication to asking who the good internet provider is in the area, or where to find the best burger in town. For me, feeling at home is tied to feeling connected to my neighborhood itself, so I know I will be happier if I can quickly forge some neighborly connections.
- Give yourself GRACE! Moving is hard work – it’s physically exhausting, mentally frustrating, and emotionally challenging. But, this too shall pass. Set realistic expectations about unpacking. Gone are the childless days when you could unpack in a 10-hour marathon before your mother in law arrived the day after your truck pulled up at your new townhome. Take breaks to play with your kids, get a cold drink, and go for a walk around your new neighborhood!
One day you might look at this new home as the best place you’ve ever lived! Or maybe you won’t. Either way ,it’s where you live, so as we say in the military community, bloom where you are planted!