Excitement. Hope. Fear.
Moving is an adventure no matter how you look at it.
When our family was preparing to move to South Carolina, I knew that I was moving away from the people and places that I knew. Sure, I had traveled out of my home state. But, not to live elsewhere.
It was a big move.
It was a good occasion for me to ask what it is that makes a house into a home. What makes the unfamiliar and strange into the familiar and comfortable?
I need to be able to make a home anywhere for my family.
I think the biggest fear lurking in my heart was of losing that sense of comfort, belonging, and order that comes with having a place to call home. There is that sense of fear when pulling out of the driveway of one place where your home has been, to not come back.
All the things are packed, the house is empty, there is nothing to do, but to go on.
The memories that have been built here spring to mind. Am I leaving happiness behind, too? Was it the right decision? I have felt this each time I have left a house.
Yet, the memories that are in the homes we are moving away from were made with the same smiles and the same hands that we take with us.
It is what took PLACE in those homes that made them more than just the houses that they were when we first moved in. And, like the woman of Proverbs 31, we can laugh at the time to come. We simply need, by faith, to roll up our sleeves and to, with our own hands, make a home.
It takes handmade to make homemade and nothing can make a home but our hands.
So, what are those things that make a home? What do I need to make my family feel secure, comfortable, and happy in a new house? When we wake up in the morning and blink with the realization that we are not in our familiar surroundings, what do we need to do?
I am a list maker. So I made a list. Not a list for the practical, get ‘r done, needs (although I did have those. I think.) A more fun list. I was trying to figure out what makes my family “coselig”. And guess what? It is not the stuff. Although, don’t get me wrong, having the stuff arranged to more easily make these things happen, is part of how we make a new house from just a house into a home.
This list has been helpful to me. And it still is. When I feel like we are falling a bit off track, like I am spending my days spinning wheels instead of building relationships with my kids and husband, this list has been a good reference point for me. Not comprehensive, sure. But it’s a start.
Each family is unique, but I hope this gets your idea juices flowing. Leave a comment and let me know what your moving tips are or how you make a home. Whether you just moved, are moving in the future, or are staying in the same home for fifty years:
- Home Cooked Food: nothing baptizes a new house into becoming your family’s home like your family’s favorite food being whipped up in the kitchen. It may not be happening your first night, but once you are in the swing of home cooked meals, that place is becoming home.
Tip: Pack your most frequently used cooking items together to be unpacked in the kitchen first. For example: your most basic serving spoons, along with a couple pots and pans. Mark it as your “Kitchen First” box. You don’t want to have to unpack the entire kitchen to make a basic meal. Don’t forget to pack paper plates, plastic utensils, disposable cups, and paper towels in your “First Off” box, or alternatively, to purchase them before Move-In Day.
- 2. The Family Meal: and add a candle. I have found that having candles at the center of the table during dinner seems to bring focus on each other and conversation during dinner. It definitely adds a cozy factor!
Tip: I packed my favorite table runner along with a small centerpiece in our “First Off” box. Having the dining table clean with a pretty, familiar table runner and centerpiece added an anchor of order and beauty amid the massive disorder of tons of boxes in various stages of unpacking around me. It shouts encouraging words to me like, “Yes! It can be done! Disorder is not final!”
Plus it gave us a nice place to eat.
Bonus: Send your kids to find some branches, flowers, and rocks from your new habitat. Use them to fill a glass jar (or even a plastic cup, whatever is unpacked!). Make it your dining table centerpiece, it mixes a bit of the old and the new. Your kids will love having participated and it helps them claim their new surroundings as their own. It is also no small benefit to give them something to do (outside!) when you are up to your eyeballs in packing peanuts.
- Lay on a big blanket outside and watch the clouds together. Find shapes. Super simple. You don’t want to die having not done this.
Fact: Our “outside blanket” is an old comforter from when I was a kid. It is huge, it is machine washable, and it is old and doesn’t matter. Except for the fact that I have gotten a bit sentimental about it now. But, besides that, don’t make this hard! Just find a blanket you don’t care about. If you have purged too much, buy one at Goodwill. Nothing precious. It will get dirty! A big blanket is great to sit babies on, lay on your back and lift your kids in the air like super heroes, eat snacks, read books, do schoolwork on lovely days .….see why I have gotten sentimental about it?
- Ride bikes in the neighborhood. Go for a walk. Or jogging, if that’s your thing. (True Story: I once bought jogging shoes when we were newlyweds because I thought it would be cute to go jogging with my husband, who likes to jog. I was wrong. I hadn’t realized the whole non-stop-running part. Ow. I will walk, thanks.)
- Reading books together. Snuggling on the couch. Checking out the new library! (Yes, we homeschool, why did you ask?)
- Make time for your children to talk with you. Try to plan on eating dinner early enough that bedtime isn’t rushed. I don’t do this enough, but I never regret taking the time when I do. Have you ever noticed how kids get suddenly cute or talkative right at bed time? That is the “Golden Hour”. It is the best time for your children to talk their hearts out to you as well as their most attentive time for reading stories. Use it. It builds the best memories and teaches you so much about your child and the thoughts on their minds.
- I am just listing things as they come to mind, and not in order of priority, or else this one would be first: Prioritize your husband. Moving is a big change and brings lots of other changes with it (job, church, life, etc.). Take the time to keep your relationship strong. Unity with one another gives each of you strength. I mean that in all ways physical as well as emotional and conversational. How is that for cozy?
- Do the fun things of the season. If it is summertime when you move, do popsicles, run through sprinklers, water balloons, catch fireflies, go watch fireworks, run around with sparklers. Don’t let the move make you miss the season and holidays where you are. Look ahead to see if there is something specific to your new area that you can enjoy together.
- Space. No stuff needed, just room to move. Space for Daddy to be silly and give piggy back rides. Space for wrestling on the floor (the kids, not me). Space for dance parties.
- Play Music: Fill your space with familiar sounds that you love. Dance in the kitchen. Isn’t that what kitchens are for?
- Begin Familiar Routines: We homeschool, so for us, that means setting up the homeschool stuff as soon as possible in a designated place (even if we later change our minds and move it) so we can get back to morning time and familiar books (especially the Bible).
- Do Arts and Crafts: Set out art supplies for the kids to make paper chains, drawings, paintings, anything and use it to decorate their new rooms.
Tip: Command hooks, ribbon or twine, and clothespins make a super simple (and fast) place for kids to hang their favorite drawings, cards, photos, etc. in their rooms.
- Hang a wreath on the front door. These are so simple to make. Does anything say “Home Sweet Home” or “Welcome Home” or “Happy People Live Here” like a wreath hanging on the front door? Anything? Nope.
- Begin (or add to it) a soil sample collection. We have loved doing this. Get some tiny glass jars like these here: (glass cork jars) or use Cracker Barrel maple syrup jars like us, and collect a sample of the soil where you currently live and where you move to. Ask grandparents to collect a sample of the sand when they travel to Hawaii. Add to your collection as you travel and move to new places. It is amazing to see the variances in color and it looks pretty on a shelf. We have loved checking the samples out under the microscope, too. Ours is here .
Go, bless your homes, my friends! Make it lovely.
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