Dear friends, I recently completed a year of doing my column “Parenting on Purpose” and I’ve written my last article, at least for now. It has been a wonderful year and I have very much appreciated your support! It has been so gratifying to hear from you, and answer questions you’ve had regarding the very important […]
Whether you are moving to a new area because of a change in your job or you just want to purchase a new house in the same town, there are many factors to consider when choosing the special place you and your family will live. Parents often feel that selecting a new place to live is entirely up to the adults in the household.
Yet, encouraging your kids in as much of the process as everyone is comfortable with has many benefits. Involving your kids can help them make a faster transition and ultimately feel more at home in their new surroundings, quicker.
By including them, you not only empower your children, but you’re also making your move more harmonious. You may even uncover some aspects of a certain property that are really important to your family that you had not considered before you asked your kids for input.
Your kids can be involved in many facets of the housing decisions and it can be a bonding family experience. Ideally, it can be fun to get the entire family involved before you even start looking.
There are certain things that you as a parent will take into consideration that kids may not even recognize as part of the decision making process. Most parents want their kids to be in what they consider “good” schools,and safe neighborhoods are also a priority.
On top of that, parents will have the financial considerations that most children are oblivious, too. Everyone wants a nice, safe home, at a price that they can afford.
There is a process you can use to gain clarity in your decision making regarding a new home. If you are unhappy with your current situation, as a point of contrast only, write down what you don’t like about where you live now. Then write down what you would like to have instead. Your dream list!
For example, if your current home is right by the train tracks and the noise bothers you, write that down. Then in your list of things that you are looking for in a home, write “quiet” or “peaceful nights.” This can be done as a family activity or you may prefer to have each person create their own list and share ideas together later.
When creating your lists, try to resist the temptation to limit yourself or to “be realistic.” This is the time to envision exactly what you want. If you are “realistic” you may not place enough importance on something because it seems out of reach, when it actually may be included in your next home, if it’s what you really want.
Allow each family member to share what they want to have in a house. Encourage your kids to support one another’s ideas. You may find that some ideas are conflicting, but this may give your family a chance to be creative and see what solutions can work for everyone.
By allowing each child to talk more about what they want rather than just reading a list of features, you are open to creative solutions that perhaps no one may have thought of on their own.
For example, a little sister may want a larger room that she shares with her big sister, while the older sister wants a room of her own. While these two dreams seem impossible to reconcile it may be that the older girl just wants some space to call her own, even if her bedroom is still shared.
Or it may be that the little girl just wants to still feel like she is part of her sister’s life, or that she wants more space and never dreamed that they could each have their own rooms.
Your kids may want a yard, or they may be happier with a park nearby that they can get to without needing a ride from you. If you have an aspiring chef, he may have ideas about what the kitchen should look like, or a part of the garden where he can grow fresh vegetables. Your young artist may want a space where she can let her paintings dry without being in anyone else’s way.
Moving past dreaming about the perfect house, let your kids pick colors and decor as much as possible, even if it’s just in their own rooms. This will help them to feel more comfortable in the new house, and by extension, the neighborhood. Some kids will want to decorate the new room so it looks as much like their current room as possible. Other children will enjoy a totally new look to celebrate their independence, growing up, or just the new experience.
Keep in mind that change can be difficult for anyone, especially children who often feel like they have no choice in the matter. By actively encouraging your kids’ participation in the housing decisions you will make the experience a more positive one for each of you. You will also give them a model of ways they can help facilitate changes in their lives in the future.
Please feel free to comment.
© 2015. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.