Making a House a Home

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Moving is not a new phenomenon for me. Although I grew up in the same small Ohio town (kindergarten through high school), once I left for college I seemed to move a lot. In fact, I have lived in 10 states over the course of 29 years. With each move, making a house a home was always a priority – even before children. By the time children came along, I was pretty darn good at it.

Here are some tips that have helped my family make each house a home;

Make the beds

When you move into your home, focus on making the beds. Be sure to clearly mark boxes that have all of the clean sheets and blankets as well as pillows. You will want to be able to lay your head down at the end of an exhausting day. The familiarity will also help calm the nerves of your little ones. Bonus if you get everyone new pajamas and a special bedtime story.

Unpack the kitchen

After the beds, focus on the kitchen: it truly is the heart of your home. This is probably the room that has the most to unpack so it is best to get it out of the way. Plus, you won’t want to keep ordering out. If you are moving a long distance, you will likely need to get groceries, too. Take advantage of grocery delivery to order ahead so you don’t have to worry about fitting in a trip to the store. Be sure to add a few special treats in the order, too. Maybe some chocolate chip cookie dough, frozen pizzas and other favorites to have a picnic with?

Clean up as you go

I am extremely OCD when it comes to this, but it makes a difference – break down boxes, shove all of the wrapping into a few designated boxes, and as you have a bunch of them broken down, post them on Next Door or other community apps. Getting rid of the clutter will reduce your stress levels and make it easier for you to put things in their place. Special note – keep a few boxes for the kids to play in! If you are able to, let your kids take them outside, give them some markers and crayons, and let them create their own castles.

Meet the neighbors

Don’t wait for the neighbors to introduce themselves to you, make the first move. Maybe you packed a few favorite local treats from where you lived before (think candies, jellies and jams, unique non-perishable foods) that you can give your new neighbors when introducing your family. You will want to make sure to begin creating your neighbor connections because you may want to pick their brains later about your new community.

Make time for adventures

Take time out of your unpacking to enjoy your new town. Take a walk, check out the local farmers market, find the closest playground, or just drive around and take it all in. It’s important that your family gets to know the area. Make a wish list of things you want to go back and investigate. The city you live in needs to become home, just as much as the house.

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Tracy owns Safe Spaces, a consulting and training firm that focuses on building resilient families, communities and organizations (www.sfspcs.com). She is also an Authorized Facilitator and Certified Instructor with Darkness to Light, www.d2l.org, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. Tracy has taught pre kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade and has served as a Site Administrator for an elementary school. Currently, she is a Teacher-in-Residence with Prezi and also a college and career advisor for Students Rising Above. Tracy grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education and child abuse prevention. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to a 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. Self-care includes getting to know her new community, having lunch with friends, pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family.

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