Adjusting to a new home

Table of Contents

It always takes me a while to really feel at home in a new place that I’ve moved into. Even once the moving boxes are unpacked and the fridge and pantry are stocked with food, there’s still a feeling of newness that precludes a true sense of comfort. Sometimes, this feeling persists weeks and months after moving day. Other times, it never dissipates at all.

There’s a big difference between living in a place that you simply rely on for provisions of necessity like a bed and a bathroom and living in a place that you really feel at home in. This is especially true in rentals. It can be difficult to establish yourself somewhere that you know you won’t be in for more than a year or two, or somewhere that is a far cry from your own taste or style. But a sense of home is all about perception, and regardless of the surrounding factors it is possible to cultivate true warmth and personality no matter where you’re living.

“Hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish term that has recently gained popularity here in the U.S. It refers to feelings of coziness and charm, and a sort of pleasant comfort that comes with certain atmospheres or situations. Figuring out how to make your house feel like home is, more than anything, about figuring out how to make your home cozy. Only you know what truly makes you feel warm, safe, and happy, but brainstorming on what those things are and then coming up with ways to incorporate them into your house or apartment is the first step toward nurturing a sense of home. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Hang art

    I’m always surprised by my friends who hang art as soon as they move into a new place. I say this as someone who has lived in her current home for over a year and a half and still has a dozen or so waiting-to-be-dealt-with framed prints and paintings leaning against a wall in the spare bedroom. But there are some real advantages to taking the former route and adorning your walls with art sooner rather than later.

    Research shows that simply looking at art can reduce stress and make you happy. And aside from the fact that we get a big boost of pleasure from looking at things that we consider to be beautiful, hanging art in your house helps instill your individual personality and interests into the space. Even I, an art-hanging-procrastinator from way back, always make sure to hang a few select pieces immediately upon move in, namely any paintings my mom has done for me and an abstract ink drawing of the solar system my husband drew me when we first started dating. The more you surround yourself with things that make you feel good, the more you’ll capture that feeling of home.

  2. Display items that remind you of your childhood home

    For most of us, our childhood house or apartment stands as the epitome of what “home” really is – it’s where we first felt safe and loved. You can never fully recreate the feeling of your childhood home, but you can keep a few items that remind you of it close by. It might be a special piece of furniture, the music box from your old bedroom, or even a few dated board games. These things carry with them the warming energy of where they came from, and they have a unique ability to exude comfort upon sight. Pick a few things that hold that sense of childhood warmth for you, and incorporate them into your space for tried-and-true feelings of home no matter where you’re living.

  3. Keep it clean

    You know how bed always feels the best when you’re climbing into freshly washed sheets? That’s because it’s extremely difficult to be completely comfortable in a place that’s dirty and/or filled with clutter. If you’re trying to figure out how to make a home cozy, you need to start with making it clean. Your physical space is an expression of the way you feel, and if you want to feel truly relaxed and at home, you should make an effort to keep your space worthy of snuggling into. Regularly wash your sheets and towels, keep your floors and other surfaces clean, and make it a habit to clear clutter before it gets out of hand.

  4. Adopt a pet

    Home is where the love is, and there’s no easier way to get a big surge of love than to adopt a pet from your local shelter. Animals make us happier and healthier, and the basic act of petting a dog’s back or tickling a kitty’s chin can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and provide us with a strong sense of social support. And though taking care of a pet can certainly be a lot of responsibility, there are few things that make a house feel more like a home than being greeted by someone who is immensely excited to see you when you walk through the front door. If you have the time, money, and desire to take on the care of an animal, consider making the leap.

  5. Surround yourself in softness

    In my last apartment I had an old, scratchy couch bought secondhand from a thrift store. It was clean and sufficient for its purpose, but it wasn’t until I bought some super soft throw blankets to adorn it that it became my (and my dog’s) favorite place to nap and relax. A cozy blanket can go a long way toward making any space more peaceful and inviting, and it’s easy to find a snuggle-worthy throw at any budget. Look into purchasing a weighted blanket if you suffer from anxiety or stress. These popular bedding accessories place a gentle amount of pressure on your body to make you feel calmer and increase relaxation.

  6. Go green

    Just like art and animals, plants and flowers are well-recognized for their ability to positively impact our mood and reduce stress, among other things. There is an innate sense of hygge in nature, and we can foster that in our own homes by introducing greenery and fresh blooms into our space. If you don’t have the green thumb to take on something like a ficus or an orchid, don’t fret – there are plenty of less fussy houseplants that even the most serial of plant killers can rely on for sustainable nature in their homes. Pot herbs in mason jars in front of your kitchen window, buy fresh flowers for yourself every week and display them on your dining room table, or pick out one of the many low-maintenance houseplants that are hearty enough to survive the days (or weeks) at a time you forget to water.

  7. Add extra light

    Few things make a house feel less inviting than insufficient lighting, or worse, fluorescent lighting. Make sure your existing lighting fixtures emit warm temperature shades of white or yellow, which promote relaxation. Then add additional lighting as appropriate. Pretty much any space can be made instantly more homey with the introduction of some well-placed lamps, string lights, or a battery-powered flameless candle in a lantern. If you can, install dimmers so that you’re able to adjust the strength of lighting in a room based on your mood and the time of day. Candles, too, will add a nice amount of warmth and coziness to a space – just be sure to extinguish flames when you leave a room.

  8. Bring the spa home

    If you want your home to feel cozy and relaxing, take some inspiration from a place that’s specially designed to make you feel as comfortable as possible: the spa. Aromatherapy diffusers, candles, gentle lighting, trickling fountains, and other spa-specific details can all be incorporated into your own home for a quick dose of homey-ness. Do it right and you may never even want to leave.

A house or apartment should be more than just a place to crash at the end of the day. Simple design details can capture feelings of warmth and pass those feelings on to you whenever you’re in the space. Whether you’re in a dorm, a rental, or still settling in to a newly purchased house, choose to surround yourself with the things that, above all else, make you feel good. The more things you have around you that make you feel happy, the more likely you are to instill a strong and sustainable atmosphere of hygge and make your house feel like home.

Do you want your house to be a place where people love to gather? If so, then you probably know how expensive it can be to make it feel like a welcoming home.

Which is why I’m always on the lookout for great ways to make my home a more hospitable place without it costing me a bundle.

So for those that are in the same boat, I wanted to share a few ideas I’ve gathered over the years.

Then, hopefully, you can make your home the place to gather and just in time for the holidays too.

Ways to Make Your Home Welcoming

Here is how I make my home a welcoming place on a budget:

1. No Room for Clutter Bugs

Making your home more welcoming and hospitable to guests isn’t all about home décor. In fact, I’d say the most important part of the process is having a clean home.

So don’t get all antsy thinking that someone is going to give your home the white glove treatment.

But you should want your guests to feel like they have room to breathe. Which is why it is so important to declutter all visible areas.

Believe me, I understand how quickly clutter builds up. I live in a smaller home with 5 people. I’m actually staring at the clutter that seems to have gathered overnight on the top of my fridge as I’m typing this.

So when I say, I know how easily clutter builds, I really do. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t stay on top of it. Try spending 15 minutes a day to declutter your home. Just pick a spot and go for it. When the timer goes off, then stop.

Then you can pick up where you left off the next day. This is a great way to manage the clutter in your home without going crazy trying to stay on top of it all.

Plus, if you declutter daily, then you are more likely to have a clutter-free home when unexpected visitors pop in.

2. Clean-Up, Clean-Up

via Emeli Cleaning Service

This next step sort of goes hand in hand with the previous step. It is important to keep your home looking clean.

Now, I understand, if you have kids, a job, a homestead, or anything else going on, finding time to clean can be really difficult. This is why I break my cleaning down into daily chores so I’m not overwhelmed.

Even living in a smaller home, I don’t always find the time each week to deep clean my house. But as I mentioned, with 5 people in a home, if you don’t stay on top of certain areas things get gross really quickly.

So this why I make sure to wipe down my kitchen every day, sweep my floors daily, and wipe down the bathroom daily. You can even make these great homemade wipes to help you do the job on a budget.

But if I stay on top of these areas, then my house just feels cleaner. Then when I have the time, I’ll dust and do the other tedious jobs.

However, if I can keep my floors, kitchen, and bathroom clean, then I’m satisfied and prepared for guests almost any time.

3. Centerpieces Add Charm

My home always feels more welcoming, even to me, when I have a centerpiece on my kitchen table. This can range from fresh cut flowers to a DIY centerpiece.

So don’t think that you have to spend a bundle to keep a centerpiece. In fact, you don’t at all. You can grow flowers in order to keep fresh flowers on the table.

Or you could create a great centerpiece, like this one, for only a few dollars. Adding anything unique and eye catching to a home’s main point of attraction (the kitchen) is always a great way to make your home feel more welcoming.

4. Yum… That Smells Good

Do you remember walking into your grandmother’s home and it always smelled so delicious? Yes! Mine was the exact same way. It didn’t matter if she was making cookies, chicken salad, or supper, her home always smells wonderful.

Naturally, people draw to food and have fond memories that occurred over food.

So if you want your home to be more welcoming, then try to keep baked goods around. I did this for many years. I had a cake stand that a few times a week, I’d fill with fresh baked goods.

Then I’d leave it out on the counter until they were gone. This was great because most days my home smelled like a bakery (which is always a welcoming fragrance), and I always had something to offer anyone who walked through my door.

5. Keep the Home Fires Burning

What I mean by this step is to light a candle. Candles have a way of offering delicious scents while also giving off a warmth that just makes people feel right at home.

So change out your candles depending upon the season. You could do pumpkin spice for fall, freshly baked cookie scents for winter, fresh linen smells for spring and fragrant flower scents for summer. Those are just ideas, of course.

But don’t feel like you must spend a fortune on candles to accomplish this. Instead, you can make your own candles to help save money.

Either way, it will add a fresh smell to your home which is always welcoming. As well as offer a warmth to your home as well.

6. Home is Where the Heart Is…So Show It

via Susan Branch

Do you keep great grandma’s homemade quilt she made locked up in a closet? If so, pull that thing out. Why?

Because your guests will love your home décor. I seriously doubt when your grandma made it that she intended for no one to ever see it. My mother-in-law was such a crafty woman. She crocheted and quilted all of the time.

In the beginning, I put all of her items away because I treasured them.

Finally, her frustration with my lack of use and my frustration with running out of space to store them all came out in a very candid conversation between us. It was such a relief that she wanted me to use these items and show them off.

Now, when you come in my home, you see her stuff everywhere. We have her handmade quilts on our couches, her crocheted doilies on my end tables, her canisters on my kitchen counter, and the list go on.

And you know what? My guests love it! They are conversational pieces that everyone notices.

Plus, since my mother-in-law is no longer with us, it gives me an opportunity to tell what a magnificent lady she was and share her talents with people who didn’t have the chance to meet her.

So any handmade items you have, whether you made them or someone made them for you, pull them out and use them to add character to your home. It will be a unique character that no other home has.

7. Let the Sun Shine In

When you walk into a dark cave, do you find yourself saying, “Ahhh, this is home!” Probably not. You feel a little uncomfortable because you can’t really see what is going on around you because of the darkness.

Well, guests kind of feel the same way. Most people like natural light when they enter a home so they can get a good view of where they are. It is helpful in locating the restroom, kitchen, and also getting a feel for the person’s home they just walked into.

Plus, it saves some embarrassment of having to ask where the restroom is and things of that nature. Natural light just has a way of making people feel a little more at ease with where they are.

Not to mention, they can see how clean your home is so they don’t have to worry about stepping on things or where they’ll sit.

So there are all kinds of benefits to just throwing back the curtains and letting some light in for your guests.

Again, I understand, that a little shade in the home is good during the warmer months to help save on the electric bill. I do it too, but when you know a guest is coming over, open the blinds, the front door, and the curtains to make them feel more at home in your home.

8. Keep the Coffee On

I love walking into people’s homes and smelling the coffee immediately. It has a way of immediately making you feel more welcome. I think it has to do with the fact that it is a familiar smell that most of us can identify with.

So when you know that you have guests coming over, put on a pot of coffee. The aroma will fill your home, and your guests will most likely enjoy the hot beverage too.

9. We’ll Just Call You Paula

Along the same lines, you’ll want to get in touch with your inner Paula Dean (or which ever celebrity chef you most identify with.) Because when you have company coming over, it is always a good idea to have food on hand.

Again, this doesn’t have to be super expensive or stressful on you. You can do what I mentioned above, which is keep a cake stand full of baked goods on the counter at all times.

Or you could make and freeze some appetizers to pop in the oven when you know guests are heading in your direction.

Finally, you could always can food so you can pop open a couple of jars and have a quick, homemade meal on hand for your guests too. These are all ways to feed company quickly and on a budget as well.

10. Slip Your Shoes Off

You want a comfortable home. I know a lot of people love to have very regal homes, but the fact is, those types of homes make people feel more uncomfortable than anything.

So when you decorate your home, decorate for functionality and comfort. You want people to feel like they can come in your home, slip off their shoes, and take a nap.

Actually, I get told that all of the time by my friends when they come over, and I take that as the biggest compliment because they are comfortable at my house. Keep your guests comfort level in mind when you begin changing your home around to make it more inviting. Don’t think so much of impressing them as you do about just making your house a comfy place for you and for your friends.

11. Create an Art Gallery

Do you have children? If so, then let your home reflect your family. Part of making your home welcoming to others is to give them a glimpse of who the people are that live there.

So if your kids have art work, go ahead and put it on display. The key to this is to do it in a way that it doesn’t create a cluttered feel.

For instance, you could put a couple of the pictures on the fridge. Then frame a few of the other pictures. If your kids do sculpting or other fun arts and crafts, then create a floating shelf to display those items.

Putting stuff on display that represents the members of your family is a great way to welcome your guests to your home.

12. Say Cheese

Again, this is your home that you are being kind enough to open up to others. Don’t feel like everything has to be based around everyone else. After all, this is your house.

But you still want a home that people enjoy coming to in order to hang out, celebrate holidays, etc.

So why not give them more of a glimpse of your family? If you love pictures, then find ways to display those family outings that were caught on film. If you have family photos taken, then display those as well.

Not only does this give your guests an idea of who you really are, but it is also a great way to spark up a conversation. If a guest can look over and see a picture of your family white water rafting, then it leaves room for them to say something like, “Oh, you’ve gone white water rafting. I have too! What was your experience like?”

Then the conversation can take off from there. This is helpful, especially for people you are having over for the first time.

13. Colors Make the Difference

Finally, consider the warmth of your home when painting your walls. If you are a very vibrant person who loves bright colors, that is great.

But keep in mind that warm colors usually make a home a little more inviting. That is why I usually do an accent wall in my home that pops (and represents me), but I do warmer colors for the other walls.

Not only does my husband appreciate this (since he likes less vibrant colors), but it also gives my home character and makes my home more welcoming to others.

Well, you now know of 13 budget-friendly ways to make your home feel more welcoming to your guests.

But now, you are up. What do you do around your home to make others feel more welcome?

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WATCH: 7 Decorating Mistakes That Prevent Your House From Feeling Like Home

1. Everything matches.

You need to embrace pairing mismatched items together.

2. You threw out all your old stuff and replaced everything with new stuff.

These may be the shiniest houses, but they are also the saddest! Families don’t actually live in showrooms. You shouldn’t either. If you really don’t like any of your stuff, go shopping for vintage and one-of-a-kind, quirkier items to give your house some personality.

3. You bought only the finest antiques for your house.

Few people feel comfortable living in a room of precious dark wood furniture and oriental rugs. Sure, you’ve got fine taste, but your house feels like it’s living in another century. Mix in some new items and comfortable seating.

4. You only buy items in one color.

Monochromatic may seem like the idea of modern day decorating efficiency, but it’s boring! Mix it up. Don’t go nuts color-blocking every room in your house. If you’re stuck on one color and need some inspiration, look at the color wheel for no-fail color pairing ideas.

5. You only bought in full catalog sets.

As in you bought a suite of furniture (typically marketed as a collection). This is another example of modern day decorating efficiency, but it’s a really boring way to decorate. It’s encouraged to combine multiple new pieces from different stores. At least peruse some other websites to mix and match before you buy the whole room from the same cart.

6. You were too by the book.

You only used the two prominent colors in the rug (or the painting) to base your room’s decorating scheme around. It’s okay to use more than two colors – in fact three is better and you need to make sure you vary the tones. This will help soften the contrast of all the colors, which usually ups the survival rate of your room. The more high contrast something is, the quicker people tire get tired of it. Yes, it catches your attention, but it won’t necessarily hold it.

7. You forgot your walls.

Art, even bad art, does a lot to make a house feel like a home. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t have to cost a bundle.

10 Tips for Settling Into Your New Home

  1. Fill out a change of address form. Visit the local post office or go to the United States Postal Service website to complete an official change of address form. For banks and financial companies, contact them directly to let them know you’ve moved.
  2. Transfer your utilities and services. Change electricity, gas, water, cable, phone and Internet to your new address. Most utilities let you sign up for service or change your existing service online, or you can use websites that let you hook up all of your utilities online, such as WhiteFence.com.
  3. Secure your home. The previous homeowner’s friends and family could have copies of your home’s keys, so call a locksmith and have all the outside door locks changed. Also, change the garage door opener codes.
  4. Check safety features. Make sure the home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have batteries, check the expiration dates on fire extinguishers and make sure all safety devices are in working order.
  5. Get to know your home. Find the home’s main circuit breaker and make sure it’s clearly labeled so you know which breaker turns off which area. Also, find the home’s water shutoffs.
  6. Map out the area. Take a drive or a walk around the neighborhood to find the nearest grocery store, gas station, bank, hospital and post office.
  7. Make it your own. Create a vision for how you’d like to turn your new house into your home. You can start by making simple repairs, painting and adding decorative accessories. Also, get a basic set of tools and stock up on cleaning supplies.
  8. Review HOA rules. We hope you already did this before you bought your home, but it never hurts to refresh your memory. Homeowners associations often have very strict rules on what changes you can and cannot make to your property, so brush up on them to avoid fines. If your community provides trash or recycling pickup, learn the schedule for these services.
  9. Meet the neighbors. Your neighbors can keep an eye on your home when you’re away, so introduce yourself to establish a good rapport.
  10. Relax. You’ve survived the home-buying process, so the hardest part is over. Store your closing documents in a safe place. Take a deep breath, and enjoy the feeling of being a new homeowner!

During the first couple of days in a new home you are likely to live among unpacked moving boxes

During the first couple of days after the move you are likely to feel unsettled and foreign in your new home. While standing among still unpacked moving boxes, you come to realize that the new place that you are about to call home seems so unfamiliar and cold. If you are lucky enough to own the place, you can decorate it as you please until you create a comfortable, homey environment.

While renters usually don’t have a complete freedom to change home’s appearance as they wish, there are still a lot of things to do in order to spruce up the living space. When facing an arduous task of unpacking, you may not have a clear idea of how you would like to customize your new place and turn it into a comfortable home.

The good news is that you can take advantage of our comprehensive tips and guidelines to envision an ideal appearance of your new home. Even at the early stage of the relocation process you can plan on how to make your new home an enjoyable place.

How to make a new home more homey after moving house

Even if you are renting an apartment, temporary customisations are possible in order to make the place feel cozy and welcoming. Sometimes small upgrades may change the way a space feels, so make sure to follow our simple tips.

Guidelines to making a new place feel like home: part 1

Home improvement projects and decoration ideas will turn your new home into a pleasant environment

– Talk to your landlord and discuss your home improvement and decoration ideas. Also check what kind of changes the rental agreement allows. If your landlord is hesitant about your suggestions, help him realize that the home improvement projects can boost the property’s value in the long run.
– How much money and time are you willing to invest in home improvement projects? After you come to an agreement with your landlord, make sure to get it in writing as well. If your landlord, for one reason or another, ”forgets” that he/she has given you the permission, you may not get your security deposit back once you decide to move out.

– First off, do not postpone unpacking! While this is obvious, the first couple of days in the new home are very hectic, and you may want to take your time before you start unpacking. But, the truth is that the sooner you unpack your boxes and get rid of used packing material, the sooner you will get settled into a new home.

Guidelines to making a new place feel like home: part 2

– Recreate familiar surroundings. Moving to a new home can be both exciting and disruptive. While everything’s fresh and new and you are overly excited about the move, a cold and empty new place may seem discouraging sometimes. So, you may want to add some personal touches to recreate the sense of familiarity and stability.
– Bring out your favorite items. Put your favorite pictures and artwork up, pull out photos and other memorabilia so as to feel at home as soon as possible. Display photographs of your loved ones and other items that have sentimental value for you in order to add a personal touch to your new home.

– Make the bed. If you reach your new home late at night, don’t even think about unpacking immediately! Hopefully your overnight bag will contain clean bedding, where you can crash after a busy moving day.
– Stick to the regular routine. If you are moving with kids, make sure to prioritize their needs. Unpack your children’s room first, make them will secure and entertained while you are taking care of the rest of the house. Once the unpacking process is over, help your kids settle into a new school and neighborhood.
– Invest in good lighting in order to create cozy and warm environment. Also, consider highlighting some important areas in the house.

– Hang the curtains. Save your privacy by putting proper window treatments as soon as you move into a new home.
– Familiarize with your kitchen. Instead of ordering pizza, prepare a homemade meal for your family, even if it means eating among unpacked moving boxes.
– Reorganize as you unpack. Moving to a new home is a great possibility to implement new ideas and to arrange your home the way you’ve always wanted. A new furniture layout plan, colors and lighting system ideas may become your day-to-day reality now that you have the chance to start over in a new home.
– Keep your new home clutter-free. Find a suitable storage unit to keep items that your new place cannot accommodate. A tidy home means a happy home!

Settling into your new home and neighborhood after moving

– Get comfy in your new neighborhood. Explore your new neighborhood and try to get yourself involved in local events and organizations. While this may not be among your top priorities, find the time to get to know your new neighbors and to locate your points of interest – grocery store, supermarket, pharmacy, park, dry cleaner,…

Socializing will help you feel more settled both into your new home and city/neighborhood. Don’t be shy – if you open yourself to it, you will meet people that share your interests and make some new friends in the new neighborhood.
– Get back to your usual activities. Moving to a new home usually means a short-term disruption to your day-to-day life. But once the dust settles you can enjoy your everyday activities like jogging, going out with friends, shopping,…
– Unwind and relax after a tiresome move. Spending some time alone in your house can be beneficial when it comes to recovering from the daunting moving process. Treat yourself with a nice coffee or dinner at a nice restaurant, listen to the music, go out with friends, read your favorite book, take a long bath and finally get some sleep.

– Host a housewarming party. A pleasant post-move get-together is a great opportunity to invite both your old and new friends and neighbors to celebrate the new beginning. Fill your new home with familiar faces, laughter and joy.

Welcome both old and new friends into your new home after the move is completed

We look at the best ways to tackle unpacking your possessions, settling in your children and furry friends, and making your new place home sweet home.

Unpacking

You’re in your new home surrounded by towering walls of boxes and haphazardly placed furniture, and quite possibly feeling physically and emotionally spent. Take ten, regroup and congratulate yourself on getting there.

After you (and your family) have recuperated, check that the gas and electricity are working and the hot water system is turned on. Locate your pre-packed survival kit. This should contain all the necessities for your first night, including toiletries, a change of clothes, bed linen and some basic kitchen items.

Some home delivered takeaway may be in order – who wants to cook after a big day of moving? Set up the beds while you’re waiting for the delivery, using the linen from your survival kit. That way everyone can head straight to bed after dinner if the day has taken its toll.

If you are enjoying a second wind, unpack the core kitchen and bathroom items so normal household functions can get underway. Ideally, your removalists will have placed key furniture items such as couches and dining tables in their pre-destined positions. If not, put these in place so you have somewhere to rest.

It makes sense to unpack essential items first. Though the temptation to tear open all your boxes and stack up books, CDs and ornaments can be overwhelming, wait till you have their allocated shelving or cupboard space in place – otherwise you will just be creating chaos. Unpacking fragile items will be safer when much of the unpacking process has been undertaken.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to unpack everything too quickly. Make it a journey of rediscovery, evaluating your possessions as you go, culling items that no longer feel right and opening up space for fresh home ideas. Decorative items should definitely be left to last. This includes paintings, soft furnishings, ornaments and lamps.


A final tip: give the room you are unpacking in a quick clean before opening boxes. An empty space is a breeze to clean.

Decorate for a fresh start

Simple decorative changes can transform a space. This may include new lighting, curtains or blinds, artwork, plants, rugs, cushions or throws. A new home is a new start; make it an environment that reflects your personal style and suits your needs. Think of that set of mugs you have always hated or that uncomfortable couch you constantly curse – now is the time to give them to charity and treat yourself to new ones,

You may want to take your transformation one step further with your own DIY renovation. This approach will not only improve your home’s appeal but can add real equity. Consider the following renovation ideas:

  • Paint walls and other finishes
  • Polish floorboards or install prefabricated flooring
  • Replace damaged tiling
  • Install additional storage
  • Landscape your front yard and backyard.

Helping your children adjust

If you have small children, you must ensure your home is child-safe. For starters, eliminate fall, drowning and electrocution risks by fencing stairs and pools and covering power sockets.

Even older children may need time to adjust to your new home. It is important to talk to your children about the move before the actual transition. Take them to the new neighbourhood before moving so they can get a feel for the local parks, playgrounds and shops. Set up their bedrooms as soon as possible to provide a safe place for them to hang out and get comfortable. Be aware that they may be upset about leaving friends, schools, sporting clubs or jobs. If they are distressed by the move, it may be worth seeking family counselling advice. Try to maintain family rituals to help keep some sense of continuity with life in your former home.

Settling pets

The steps involved in settling your pet into a new home will depend on the type of pet you own. While we advise that you talk to your vet about managing your pet’s transition, here are some general guidelines when it comes to dogs and cats.

Cats: Don’t release your cat from its carrier box until the house is quiet and settled. Check that doors and windows are closed. Choose a room where you can set up their kitty litter, toys and food − this can be their safe haven for the first few days. It is then a process of letting them explore, becoming accustomed to the new scents and general environment. Outdoor cats should be released for only short periods in the first few weeks until they understand their new home and surrounds. Build up their time outdoors gradually.

Dogs: Before you introduce your pooch to its new home, make sure it is dog-proofed. Check for anything that could be unsafe, like broken fences or dangerous cords. Dogs are territorial and will need time to adjust to their new territory. Make sure their familiar doggy possessions, such as toys, blankets and bed, can be unpacked as soon as you move in. Dogs are sensitive to your behaviour so maintain encouraging, calm tones when talking to them in the new home. Establish your dog’s go-zones before the move and let them explore these areas thoroughly. Lots of walks and keeping to established routines will help. Always walk your dog on a lead, particularly when in unfamiliar territory.

Continue reading our Moving House Guide with: Checklist for moving house

How to Adapt to a New Environment When Moving

How to adapt to the new town or city

Moving to a place you’ve never been to before can be an intimidating and even terrifying experience.

The best way to breeze through your new-city adaptation period is to make new friends and then hang out with them.

There’s the fear of the unknown – you just don’t know what to expect from the new town or city and you have no idea whether the new environment will be to your liking or not. Besides, it’s too early to try to predict whether, as time passes, you will feel some sort of connection with the chosen home moving destination.

Speed up the new city adaptation by following these practical tips for adjusting to new surroundings:

  • Explore your new city. The city you just moved to may look unwelcoming and even menacing simply because you don’t know it yet. Chase away that feeling of strangeness by walking out of your fortress and getting to know the unfamiliar surroundings little by little. Start with your neighborhood, and then expand the perimeter of your exploratory trips. Soon enough, you’ll notice how your initial perception will change with each consequent walk in a park, visit of a landmark or stroll along the shopping streets. /8 ways to explore your new city/
  • Use your job as a shield. The reason for your home move may be work-related or you may have had a totally different motive to move house. Either way, a proven way to adjust to a new environment smoothly and painlessly is to focus on your job and thus have less free time to occupy your mind with sad and nostalgic thoughts. The steady income from your work will certainly help ease the transition into your new life chapter. Moreover, your daily contact and communication with work colleagues, business partners or customers will shorten significantly the time you need to get used to the new city atmosphere. /Your job relocation guide/
  • Meet new people. Without a doubt, the best way to hasten the adaptation to a new environment is to meet new people and hopefully become friends with some of them. This make-new-friends concept is especially important when moving to a new city alone. One good to do just that is to throw a housewarming party after the move and invite co-workers, neighbors, and friends or acquaintances you may already have in the town or city. Another fool-proof way to meet and interact with people with similar interests is to pursue your hobbies, sign up for yoga or dance classes after work, or join various sports clubs.
  • Keep in touch with your old friends. Post-relocation adaptation is about moving forward with your life. Sometimes that forward movement may be just one small step at a time but it’s still a progress in the right direction so that you can adapt to the new environment. However, your own adaptation to a new environment will yield best results when you keep and cherish your old pals and the meaningful relationships you had with them prior to the move. Now it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with the people you care about as modern technology has turned long distances into a lame excuse to disconnect completely with the persons who matter so much in your life.

Good to know: How to save money when you move to a new city

3 Bonus tips for adjusting to new surroundings

How long does it take to adjust to a new place? Adaptation is a process which takes time – you can’t expect it to be over in a day or two.

The truth is that a large number of external factors (city, home, employment, income, support base, friends, entertainment options, etc.) and internal factors (mental and physical health, current marital status, hopes, expectations, etc.) will play a major factor in determining how long you will need to feel at home once more (if ever).

Sign up for a yoga class and see the new surroundings from a different point of view.

Here are three additional tips for adjusting to a new environment.

1. Learn about the new environment in advance

Learn as much as you can about the new place you’re moving to – be it a small town or a big city. This is especially important when you’ve never been to your destination point before. Knowing what to expect from your future place, at least in general, may help you feel less estranged and unwelcomed right after the move.

They say that information is power, but when you find yourself in completely new and unfamiliar environment, information equals survival. The more you know about a place, the faster you will get used to its foreign nature, and then the faster you will adapt to the new environment after the home move.

Essential places to locate when you move to a new city

2. Try to be nice to everyone

It’s supposed to be a small world but that proverbially tiny world will seem huge when you move to a place where you don’t know anybody. Still, it can be rather exciting to have no idea who you’re going to meet in the new town or city.

Whenever placed in an unfamiliar setting, you should stay on the safe side by being nice and polite to strangers because you just never know – the person you yell at on the street for no good reason may turn out to be your next boss. Courtesy is a quality that can help you a lot during your post-move adaptation period.

Top 10 emotions of moving home: Search your feelings

3. Do things you’ve never done before

To rediscover your inner rhythm and equilibrium after moving to a new place, you may need to break the daily routine by doing a handful of things you wouldn’t normally do. The main idea here is to stop feeling sorry for what you’ve lost and concentrate on the things you have gained when you moved home.

Remember that every time you lose something, you win something else. And since you can’t bring back your old life, it’s time to try to enjoy what your new life chapter has in store for you.

Make every effort to break the mold by seeking out new experiences. You may have lost your evening bridge sessions with your buddies, now it’s time to join a chess club in the new city. Is your new locale also offering great hiking opportunities? Horse riding? Rafting?

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Must-read: The greatest MOVING CHECKLIST of all time

Your biggest post-move enemy? Relocation depression.

Moving to a new environment can be the cause of the manifestation of one of the worst side-effects of the home moving process. Relocation depression (aka separation anxiety) is a strong psychological reaction to the loss of the old life where the familiarity brought comfort, which in turn brought peace of mind.

Still hiding in your new place? Why do you keep pretending that you are too busy working on yourself to go out and meet the world?

The moving to a new city depression is often tricky to cope with, and may even lead to undesirable results and possibly dangerous consequences if not handled properly. At times, a person may require professional help to break free from the strong clutches of that post-move type of depression.

Check out the typical symptoms of relocation depression so that you can identify its signs early enough to be able to respond adequately:

  • Excessive sleep. You may be just too exhausted from the home moving adventure. However, if you do find yourself sleeping 12 or more hours when you only needed 8 prior to the move, then that may be a troubling sign.
  • Lack of energy. If you wake up rather tired and have no sufficient energy to get on with your daily routine tasks, then that could also mean you’re struggling with depression.
  • No desire to leave the home. Are you terrified by the thought of having to leave the new home? Do you lack any desire whatsoever to meet and talk with other people, even friends? Post-relocation avoidance of contact with the outside world is an apparent sign that something’s wrong.
  • Apathy. The state of not being interested in anything or anyone could be kind of fun for a few hours. Prolonged stints of apathy after moving to a new place – a place that waits to be explored and enjoyed – usually spell out T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Here you will learn what you can do to overcome relocation depression on your way to adapting to your environment quickly, and more importantly – trouble-free.

Ultimately, the best way to adapt to a new environment is to give yourself more time. Don’t be too harsh on yourself – you just survived a home move, didn’t you? It’ll take some time before you get fully adapted to the new surroundings – months, maybe even years.

The bad news is that sometimes you may never feel completely at home in the new city and inside the new home. And if that is the case, then moving back to the place you left behind may be the only option to keep your sanity and find again the joy of life.

How To Deal With A Big Move & 7 Ways To Get Adjust To Your New Home

There is nothing more challenging (mentally and physically) than moving and adjusting to that move. You are leaving the familiar to seek a new adventure in a far away land. Although, mentally, you have been preparing yourself for all the heartfelt goodbyes, there is still a glimmer of excitement amongst the waves of emotions you might be feeling leaving all your friends behind.

One of the coolest things about moving to a new town, especially one that is drastically different from your own, is the endless new possibilities you might encounter. It’s thrilling to think about your future and how it could unfold just by making one of the scariest decisions of your life. I knew, for myself, that the next step toward my career was to move to the Big Apple. To me, this was the beginning of something great. As a control freak (I’ll admit it), I don’t handle personal change that well; I love habit and knowing what’s happening next. But I knew that I needed to struggle a little bit to get my writing career going.

Whatever your reason might be as to why you are making your great next big move, just remember this: Change is inevitable; it’s bound to happen, but one of the greatest things you could do, is take charge of that change and create something beautiful out of it. So instead, don’t stress, and enjoy what your new city has to offer. Here are seven tried (by yours truly) and true ways to enjoy your new city, to adjust after a big move and conquer your fear.

1. Keep Your Mind Open to New Experiences

There is no doubt that your mind must be going a mile a minute, that’s natural. Just don’t let it overwhelm you. Take this time to get organize in your home and to relinquish any expectations you might have had. Don’t expect perfection. Every city has their own baggage, but how you are willing to explore it, is up to you.

When I moved to New York, I wasn’t prepared for the 4 p.m. sunsets (ugh!) or huge delays when it came to the public transportation. It’s something that I learned with overtime and just excused it as an experience that I wouldn’t have anywhere else. Just accept your new city for what is it and soon you will start calling it your new home in no time.

2. Unpack Everything

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The best way to get adjusted very quickly is by making your new house feel like a home. The one nice thing about moving is that you probably brought a good amount of personal items with you. Take these items out so you can start seeing them everyday. It really helped me when I hung up all my pictures of my friends and family in my new home. It reminded me of how loved I am by them. Once you start feeling comfortable in your own home, the rest will be a piece of cake

3. Go Explore

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If you have moved with someone or your significant other, and have some downtime, why not take that time to explore your new backyard? Go search online, or ask your friends who may have visited this new city of yours before, for some killer awesome recommendations to eat or shop at.

When I first moved, on my day off, I would search on Instagram for some of the coolest spots nearby my house. It helped my boyfriend and I get a bit more quaint and comfortable with our new town and it was always fun to go on a new adventure because we had each other. Once you start becoming familiar with the streets around your hood, the transition will quickly come faster than you least expect it.

4. Stay In Touch With Your Long-Distance Friends and Family

Talking about your situation with others can be a therapeutic way for you to feel adjusted to your new home. Your friends and family are probably excited to hear about your new life anyways, might as well drop the deets on them. I always try to Skype or text with my friends once a month. It really helps to keep my head on straight and they are always encouraging when I start to feel lost or uneasy.

5. Be Open With Connections

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Usually when one moves to a new city, that also means new friends. It might seem hard, especially as an adult, to make new friends and actually keep them! We are so afraid of being judge by one another, that sometimes, it’s hard to open up and be, well, friendly. Instead, let random encounters happen and always smile. Of course, don’t forget to be safe about your surroundings, too. Let’s not forget that, but don’t let the loneliness take over and give you more stress. You don’t need more of that in your life.

6. Cook Meals & Have A Full Fridge

This might sound crazy, but you know you always feel better when you have a fridge full of food. Go to the grocery store down the street to grab your favorite snacks and meals. For myself, I always love having my favorite snacks in my fridge. And, personally, a good chocolate milkshake can handle any stress. I don’t care what you say.

According to a Psychology Today article, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford, said home cooked meals influence women and how they feel saying, “Now, most of us think that eating out is a treat, and that indulgent meals are a special reward. But this study found that women were significantly happier and less stressed after eating at home, and after eating healthier meals.” Come on, it’s in the pudding.

7. Try To Create A Routine

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Of course your routine might not be identical to what it once was when you were living in your previous town, but creating a whole new routine will definitely help with the coping of adjusting to everything you are experiencing. It might take a couple of weeks or even months to organically create a new routine, but take this time to make healthier life choices: Try to exercise, write out a list of things you still need to do (because moving feels like it’s never ending when it comes to paperwork), and try and hang out with new friends. While Netflix and Chilling is never a bad idea, it’s also really healthy to try and get out of the house, too. When I moved to New York, I was figuring out the train system, and how long I needed to get from point A to point B or how to stay organized more when I felt like the busting city gave me less time to deal with in a day. It’s a lot more stress, but in the end, figuring out your routine, will simplify your life in more ways than one.

Moving can make you feel stressed, sad, or frustrated — but it can also be exciting, and filled with new possibilities. Try to focus on those positives, and eventually it will get easier, little by little.

Images: Giphy (7); Pexels

How to adjust to your new home after relocating for work

No matter how prepared you are, relocating for work is a huge adjustment. Here’s how to make it a little easier.

Relocating for work is becoming more common, but that doesn’t necessarily make it an easy transition.

If you’re relocating for work, you might not know a whole lot about the place you’re moving to. If you’re making the move alone, it can be even more daunting.

Once you know you’ve made the right decision, it’s time to prepare. There are plenty of things you can do ahead of your move to make it as smooth as possible.

However, even with all your ducks in a row, it can take time to adjust to your surroundings. Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help you settle into your new home.

Become familiar with your home

That means becoming familiar with the actual dwelling you’re going to live in. If you’ve prepared for your relocation with the help of your employer, you should have your accommodation ready and waiting for you to arrive.

Start with unpacking. Even before you’ve set up your kitchen or your living room, start with a few home comforts and wall hangings that will make you feel more settled.

Don’t feel the need to rush out into your new city right away. Take a few days to set up your house or apartment properly so that it really does feel like your home.

Create a positive mindset

Hopefully, you’ll have started developing this from the moment you decided to relocate. It’s important to remind yourself why you made the decision to move.

Even if you don’t feel the need to convince yourself, it’s good to always have positive thoughts about the move ticking away in your head.

Once you’ve gotten used to your home, don’t get stuck in a rut. Staying in your comfort zone will only cause fears about the unknown to manifest, so be positive about new adventures as much as possible.

Explore your new city

Now would be a great time to start exploring the city. You should already have a virtual idea of where things are (or a real idea if you managed to make a preparation trip).

Take the time ahead of starting work to walk around your area, find your nearest amenities, scope out local cafés and bars. Become a tourist and get to know the well-known sites.

Also, get to know your routes to and from work, and find out what might be nearby your office for lunch. The more familiar you become, the more at home you will feel.

Meet new people

If you’re coming to the new city on your own, meeting new people can feel daunting. However, if you’re relocating for work, you can use your professional network to your advantage.

Get to know your colleagues and ask them for tips about the city and where some of the less well-known hot spots are.

You should also consider joining meet-ups or a new class where you can meet like-minded people and take on something new at the same time. Even getting to know your local baristas, hairdressers or bartenders will give you an insight into life in your new city.

Stay in touch with your old network

Part of relocating for work will mean saying goodbye to your old network that you were used to seeing much more frequently. It’s important not to lose contact with those people.

The fewer connections you have to your home life, especially at the beginning of the transition, the more homesick you’re likely to feel.

Be sure to block out time to talk to your old colleagues and friends regularly, so that you always feel connected to your previous home. However, don’t let these connections stop you from making new ones. You need to mix the old with the new.

Find a new routine

A big part of settling into any new situation is about establishing a routine that you can feel comfortable with.

Similar to setting up your home and staying in touch with old friends while making new ones, your new routine should be a blend of what you’re used to and some new experiences.

Factor in your commute, workload and free time when setting up your routine. Analyse your old routine and pick the parts that are most important to you, which you can adapt to your new life.

Take the opportunity of starting fresh to incorporate something new that you previously didn’t have time for. Giving yourself a blank canvas can feel very liberating and will help you look forward to your new life.

Say yes to opportunities

With your new routine in mind, you should also take this new opportunity to say yes more often to things you might not have said yes to in the past.

Over a number of months and years of being ‘bedded down’, we start to accumulate commitments and spend time before we’ve even had a chance to decide how we want that time spent.

When you relocate for work, it’s likely that once you’re settled in, all that will be in your calendar is your new job. Make a deal with yourself that you will say yes to more opportunities, be they professional, social or otherwise.

Develop another space

Like I said, starting out in a new city for a job might mean that the only thing in your calendar is work. While this leaves you open to endless opportunities and possibilities, it can also see you fall into a trap of just going from home to work and back again.

Suddenly, those four walls in both spaces will start to close in, and it’s not always easy to immediately fill your time with new things.

As a safety net, find an extra space for you to go between work and home. Whether that’s a coffee shop, a museum, a park, a beach or your local library, have a place that you feel comfortable relaxing in outside of home or work. This can be the start of getting acquainted with other places in your area.

Take your time

The most important part of adjusting to a relocation is to give yourself a break. Moving is hard enough, but adjusting and settling into your new home can be even tougher.

Take the time you need to get as comfortable as you can with your new home. Don’t rush into anything too fast just because you feel you have to.

Get support from family, friends and colleagues, both old and new. Before you know it, it will feel like you always lived there.

How to Be a Good Husband to a Stay-at-Home Mom

It sounds like a straightforward and practical arrangement: Dad works outside the home full time and Mom stays home to take care of the children. Many couples who make this decision for their families agree — in theory, at least — that each parent has a challenging and important job. But even among egalitarian parents, resentment and frustration often stem from an all-too-common scenario: Dad worked all day and wants to come home and just relax, while Mom has been waiting roughly nine hours for the opportunity to pass her often screaming and spittle-covered child to someone else for a few minutes so she can have a break. It’s what everyone wanted but somehow, sometimes, no one is happy.

“When they come to me, it’s normally because dad feels like mom is not doing enough, and he should be able to come home and relax and not be an engaged parent, or mom doesn’t want to stay home anymore because it’s not as rewarding or satisfying as she presumed,” says Racine Henry, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Staten Island, New York.

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Every couple is different. But the key to making a marriage work when one parent is a stay-at-home mom and one parent goes to work, is expectation management and empathy. Importantly, stay at home moms often need their husbands to understand how difficult it is to lose your identity; husbands need their wives to understand the pressure they’re under to provide for their family and how isolated from their new kids they feel. Working to make both sides known is crucial to making things, well, work.

Once the tradition and norm, today, mothers’ decisions to stay home with the kids might merely be due to personal preference or because she was raised to think that’s what mothers should do. The reason might be financial: If her salary doesn’t cover or barely covers the cost of childcare while both parents work, it often makes more economic sense for her to stay home. This is particularly so when research suggests that new dads earn more, according to a 2018 study, and mothers are often paid less, another found.

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Although the arrangement is no longer a given, many women still consider ditching work to care for their children full time to be living the dream. Less than one-third (28 percent) of married moms said they consider full-time work ideal for them, according to a 2019 survey by the Institute for Family Studies. In 2014, the Pew Research Center reported that the percentage of mothers who chose to stay home and not work had increased for the first time in decades: Whereas in 1999, 23 percent of mothers stayed home with the kids, that figure had risen to 29 percent by 2012. In a report published in 2018, Pew found that the number of stay-at-home moms had dropped only a bit at 27 percent by 2016. For the most part, society generally supports this traditional arrangement. Just five years ago, 60 percent of people polled said that kids were better off if mothers stayed home rather than worked.

Statistically, married, college-educated mothers are less likely to quit working and stay home with the kids, but many educated women abandon promising careers to take care of their children. A Chicago mother of one with another child on the way, Jennifer Storelli loved her first job after earning her journalism degree at Northwestern University but says, “Honestly, I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. My mom also was a stay-at-home mom, and I loved having her around when I was a kid.”

Even when women love the idea of staying home with their children, however, the arrangement creates strain in a marriage. For one thing, there’s an undeniable change in the power dynamic when one person holds the pursestrings.

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Cindy, who asked that we not use her last name, describes her ex-husband and the father of her 13-year-old son as an incredibly involved and loving parent, but says that nonetheless, there were occasional problems related to money.

“There were a couple of instances where he claimed I was a spoiled stay-at-home mom trying to keep up with the other stay-at-home moms,” says Cindy, who lives in Marina del Rey, California. “For instance, once we were looking for a car and I suggested a Mercedes, and he went off the deep end about what the fuck was I thinking and that I was spoiled.”

Many dads, sometimes because they’re dealing with their own new pressures and stresses as the sole breadwinner, don’t always grasp how complicated, conflicted and unexpected women’s feelings might be about being home alone all day with a baby, which Cindy describes as “heaven and hell.”

“Some days seemed endless,” Cindy says. “Many days, I cried and was lonely as hell, and overwhelmed. Even though I had what every mom hopes for — the ability to stay home with my baby and a husband who made it happen — I was so exhausted and had no family in town and my friends (none of whom had kids) kind of disappeared on me.”

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This makes sense, afterall. New parenthood is all about transition. Mothers who quit working to stay home with children aren’t just adjusting to motherhood, they’re adjusting to a completely different type of work, one with little feedback and no easy measure of success compared to their experience in the workplace.

“I think has a hard time understanding how draining it is to be constantly fulfilling others’ needs without any recognition or having anyone offering to support me in meeting my own needs,” says Elizabeth, a mother of a 6- and a 3-and-a-half-year old in Boston. “I didn’t realize how important it was to my psyche to have people offer praise until it completely disappeared, and I was working harder than ever.”

Some of the stress stay-at-home moms deal with stems from the more obvious, and exhausting, responsibilities of caring for children.

“I try and realize these are precious moments and I’m going to miss them when he is older, but when my son wipes his snot all over the new shirt I’m wearing or when he takes 1,000 hours to get from the door to the car, and then pees his pants when I finally buckle him, it’s very hard,” says Stephanie Powers, a mother of a 3-year-old in Tampa, Florida.

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A nagging pressure that they should be grateful for even the more disgusting aspects of full-time motherhood is something many women express when talking about staying home with their kids. They also more explicitly mention feeling guilty. Because many people believe kids are better off when moms stay home, if mothers work full time, they’re accused of harming their children’s development and emotional well-being by leaving them with other caretakers. If moms do stay home, they’re sometimes criticized by others, in person or online, for being lazy or anti-feminist. They’re sometimes accused of not being good role models for kids growing up in a society that puts a greater value on careers than it does on homemaking. Stay-at-home moms feel guilty for being exhausted and worry they’re not keeping the house neat enough or taking good enough care of the kids, even when their husbands aren’t complaining.

“ realizes I have the harder job, but he thinks I stress too much about all of the messes and should just chill out and not worry about living in a toy/paint/yogurt-covered mess,” Powers says.

She and Alec don’t spend a lot of time together because when he’s home at night or on the weekends, she’s in desperate need of a break. Alec helps make it work by letting her sleep in on Saturday mornings and taking care of their son a night or two a week so she can go out and see friends.

“Children thrive when a healthy stay-at-home parent is there, but it can be lonely and isolating,” says Tina Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in Southern California and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together. “So stay-at-home parents should make a point of getting together with other parents.”

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Socializing away from home helps moms maintain an identity outside of the family, which is not only important for their mental health, but makes the transition later from full-time motherhood to autonomy easier, Henry says. It nevertheless can be hard for some mothers, because, she says, “Motherhood is so narrowly defined that for a lot of women, time away from your kids and doing something for yourself feels selfish or wrong.”

It isn’t just mom who needs understanding and empathy during the transition to parenthood, however. Dads do, too. Being the sole provider for not just your wife but your child often comes with incredible pressure and stress that your wife might not think about or understand. In addition to making an effort to understand what their working husbands are going through, it’s helpful for stay-at-home moms to make dads feel included and important to the baby’s development.

“I always make sure to share with him the little helpful tips I’d discover about our daughter so he could help with our routines,” Storelli says. “For example, she went through a phase when she thought the word ‘chewy’ was hilarious. I made sure to tell him so that he could spark some laughs, too.”

Storelli also sends her husband pictures of their daughter during the workday so he can feel like he’s part of her development and makes sure to mention all the times their daughter asks about him during the day, so he knows he’s missed.

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But many couples with a new baby are so busy trying to figure out how to be parents that they don’t have the time and energy to monitor how their relationship is changing. It isn’t easy to find the time and can feel hard to justify focusing on yourselves instead of your child. It’s crucial, however, to make checking in with each other a priority to make sure you both feel heard and understood and like you’re both putting effort into the relationship.

“Staying at home with children does not have to negatively impact the relationship at all, especially when it’s what both parties want,” says Devon Jorge, MSW, a psychotherapist in Kitchener, Canada. “Where marriages can go wrong is when the decision is not explored deeply enough and there are assumptions and expectations made on both ends on what this will look like for their family.”

On top of making each parent’s workload equitable, couples should be prepared to have what can be tough conversations about their sex life and whether they need to set up a financial safety net for the nonworking parent, who will be stuck with no money and outdated work experience if they were to split. Many men are offended at the suggestion that they might not provide for their families if they were to divorce their wives, but people change when they’re no longer happy, are hurt or feel they deserve vengeance, Henry says. A separate bank account or investment in only her name might help alleviate anxiety about feeling financially dependent on her husband and give her peace of mind that she won’t be destitute in the event of a divorce.

A harmonious relationship won’t look the same for every couple in which Mom stays home with the kids. What’s important is to come to some agreement about roles and expectations, whatever those look like, Henry says.

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“It could be deciding how can you pitch in and she gets a break, or getting a babysitter and going out separately or together,” Henry says. “You need to decide together what’s necessary for the needs of everyone in the family and how you can both contribute to making that a reality.”

There are certain personality traits that can make couples’ conflict resolution easier, says Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California, and the author of The Self-Aware Parent. Parents able to move out of their comfort zones and who don’t need to be “right” at all costs are better able to change, she says. The ability to verbalize feelings and needs, a capacity for self-examination and willingness to own up to mistakes as well as a sense of humor all make weathering parenting storms easier.

With some work, couples can get better at those things, but a really important component in making the stay-at-home mom, working dad partnership work is respect, Tessina says.

“If they feel like a team that’s working together to give their family the best life possible, they’ll probably do well,” Tessina says. “But if the working parent doesn’t respect the stay-at-home parent or isn’t willing to cooperate, there will be problems.”

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Elizabeth says she doesn’t feel like she and her husband knew what they were in for when they decided to have kids and that she has had doubts about whether being a stay-at-home mom was the right decision for her.

“I think we each had idealized visions of how the other person would be, and we’ve both had to shift those quite a bit,” she says. “It is a very, very trying gig. However, I think the strain of balancing a full-time career and motherhood would’ve been harder for me than it has been to stay at home. As hard as it has been to be with them all the time, being away from them is even harder. It’s quite the paradox. And an emotional juggernaut.”

Parenting and marriage aren’t easy, adds Jason B., the father of a first-grade girl in Overland Park, Kansas, who works full time so his wife can stay home with their daughter.

“We argue at times and get mad at each other. Lack of sleep and free time can make anyone angry, and fuses can run short,” he says. “But that’s where you have to have patience and forgiveness. The key is focusing on making a decision to always be there for the other person. Give them time to cool off and take time to cool off, and approach them once you are level-headed. And remember first and foremost that love brought you together and love will keep you there.”

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How to Make Your Guests Feel at Home

I braced myself for a weeklong visit to my friend Felicia’s house the way I would for a wilderness survival expedition. Felicia had just started her own company, so I didn’t expect that she would have the time or energy to pamper me. And besides, I assumed that putting aside my own comfort was the small but inevitable price I needed to pay for the privilege of a sleepover at a loved one’s home.
Felicia proved otherwise.
When I placed my bags in her spare bedroom, I was pleasantly stunned to find that every detail of the room had been set up for me—not just any guest, but me specifically. There was a small stack of fascinating articles that Felicia suspected I would love, and clusters of lilacs filled the room with my favorite scent.
Felicia, it turns out, is a gifted practitioner of something I call empathetic hosting. Her way of personalizing a space for visitors made me feel so pampered that I started imitating her thoughtfulness when guests stayed at my place. Here are some empathetic-hosting guidelines you might want to try at your home.

Focus on Giving Attention, Not Getting Attention

When most of us clean, decorate or otherwise prepare for visitors, we’re driven by a desire for approval. “What will they think if there are dust bunnies under the bed?” we worry. “Will they be disdainful of my coffee choices, shocked by the children’s bedrooms, aware that mud walls are considered fashionable in some regions of the country?” By the time a visitor arrives, the space usually screams, “So enough about me, let’s talk about you…what do you think of me?”

Felicia, on the other hand, never worries about her guests’ judgments of her. She’s too busy empathizing with whatever they’re experiencing in their lives. When the visitor is her great aunt Ann, who often complains that her life lacks fun and vibrancy, Felicia doesn’t obsess about fashionable décor—she just provides lots of New Yorker cartoons, comedy DVDs, and chances for Ann to hang out with Felicia’s two kids and three dogs. When her kindergarten-teacher sister Sophie arrives, Felicia wisely guesses that Sophie isn’t craving more time with children—she wants a calm space, intelligent conversation, and a stiff drink (not necessarily in that order), and Felicia makes sure she gets them.
Before your guests arrive, spend some time picturing their lives—not yourself, your house, or your reputation, but their lives—from their point of view. When you walk in their shoes, what creature comforts sound tempting? What diversions are most diverting? What would you like to avoid for a while? Just a small touch, like putting a homemade “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and respecting it while a tired guest sleeps can make the humblest guest quarters feel like the Ritz.

Give Them What They Love, Not What You Love

“Dolores goes to Vegas so often, I bet she’s ready for a Zen hideaway experience.” No, she isn’t. “Ben spends all his time with machines. He should change things up, go to the opera.” No, he shouldn’t. Here’s my never-fail rule for providing special touches that will make your guests happy: Find out what they do or buy on their own, and give them more of it.
Our personality traits tend to stay consistent throughout life, and what we do with our free time and money is a good indication of that consistency. The guest who has bought herself thousands of bottles of nail polish will love one more. Felicia left me humorous writings because she had noticed a ton like them in my house. The fact that she was so clearly thinking of me when she made that decision made me feel deliciously spoiled, genuinely seen.
So put a lottery ticket on the pillow for Vegas-loving Dolores. Tape the Pimp My Ride marathon for mechanically inclined Ben. Giving guests what you love is projection. Giving them what they’d choose for themselves is empathy.
How to think about your guest’s needs

Flexibility

You can work around any work rotas/shifts (although home education only works if one parent isn’t in full-time employment so there is a financial implication). You can go on holiday when you want – no massive hike in expense when school holidays come round – and extend holidays at whim. You never have to count down (with glee or dread) thinking “X more days until the summer holidays are over”, as I am doing now.

No school runs

Can I just repeat that? No school runs. This means bedtimes and get-up times to suit and, more crucially, at a more adolescent-friendly time for teenagers whose biological clocks shift at the start of puberty.

Child-led learning

This is probably the main reason home education is so different from school. We all learn more effectively, and it’s more fun, if we can learn about the stuff we like. You can also go at the child’s pace, rather than the child having to go at the class’s pace.

Write your own timetable

You don’t need to follow the national curriculum if you don’t want to. You definitely don’t need to follow a school day. This means you can be led by your child, which means more efficient learning. If your child is particularly interested in something after seeing a film or reading a book, you can learn about that, which will lead into lots of other things. If your child is more receptive from 3pm to 6pm, that’s when you can target lessons.

You will need to follow the curriculum if you intend to put your child in for GCSEs or A-levels (you can apply privately to sit them). But that also means your children haven’t sat lots of other largely pointless exams by the age of 15.

Benefits of one to one

Because one-to-one teaching (or one to two or three if you have more than one child) is so effective, you can pack a lot in. Some home schoolers say they get a day’s worth of learning in within two hours. The rest of the time you can do what you want.

Interactive

Children are far less afraid to ask a parent about anything they don’t understand, than putting a hand up in front of a whole classroom. Be aware though, that if your children are of vastly different ages, this can be a challenge.

Boosts confidence

If your child really struggles with certain subjects, if they have “uneven skills” as one home-schooling parent put it, but excels at others, you can structure their learning accordingly, which helps to boost their confidence.

Best of both worlds

If you start off with home education, you can, as lots of parents do, return your child into the school system later on. Some parents feel that children start school too young so they home educate until high school level and then send their children to school. You can also flex-school (which is part-time schooling and home education) – but this is up to the discretion of the headteacher, so ask.

Legal niceties

There is no legal imperative to send your child to school in this country, but you do need to provide an education for your child. You can home educate from the start, but if you decide to do it later on, once they have been at school, you must write to the headteacher to de-register them (the school does not need to approve your taking them out to home educate). It is then up to the school to notify the relevant local authority. Education authorities may get involved to a greater or lesser degree. Some are supportive and helpful, others less so.

Support network

The social aspect of home education is often mentioned but you can join local groups where you meet other families who are in the same situation. In some areas, this works really well, with parents sharing skills to teach children. Home education groups can provide more information and there are also groups on Facebook.

Useful links: