As a military family, we're used to moving every couple of years. But that doesn’t mean moving ever gets easy.
Whether it's a cross-country move for a new job, relocating after a divorce, or just moving into a bigger house, it’s important to help your kids feel at home in their new home. The first night in a new house can be a little scary. There are new sounds to get used to, and even something as simple as the utensil drawer being in a different spot might cause some anxiety.
After my divorce, my six kids and I stayed in the house we’d lived in for the past six years. There was no move, yet we needed a way to make the house feel like ours again. We decided to smoke it out, color it, and recreate it.
Late one fall evening, my kids and I opened all the doors and windows and went room to room burning sage in every the corner.
A smudging ceremony isn’t nearly as weird as it sounds. Native Americans, Eastern philosophies, and modern-day energy workers burn sage to get rid of negative energy. Just as a person can hold on to negative energy, so can a house hold on to the energy from a previous family. The sage clears the room of any negativity or left-behind energy.
An added bonus on the night we burned sage was the discovery that our smoke detectors were in perfect working order! So if you choose to smudge your new home, be sure not to get too close to the smoke detectors.
If a smudging ceremony is just too out there for you, a blessing of your religion could be performed as well. Or there’s always the old favorite blessing popularized in the movie "It’s A Wonderful Life": Bread so that this house may never know hunger. Salt so that life may always have flavor. And wine that joy and prosperity may reign forever.
Shortly after the divorce my family embarked on a redecorating kick. With a tight budget, we got very creative in how we colored our new, old, home. Down came all the mass-produced art that had been purchased throughout the years. We went to our local drugstore and printed out pictures of a night spent at the fair, swimming in the pool, or any random fun moment captured in time. The divorce was sad but I wanted reminders placed everywhere that both life and laughter must go on.
If you're moving into a new home, give your kids and yourself freedom to express your creative side. My daughter chose a new paint color for her room and I painted my kitchen orange. Yes, orange. A couple gallons of paint is relatively inexpensive and went a long way to reclaiming the house. Paint and decorations can be changed later if you decide that the orange paint is just too bright.
Together, decide what makes your family special. Then be sure to showcase that uniqueness throughout your home. Our front entry is where we hang my daughters' dance pictures and the mantel over the fireplace is where we have the basketball signed by each member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Those aren’t the type of room décor suggestions you’ll find in magazines, but they are what makes our house a home.
Holidays in a new home are a great opportunity to also create new traditions. The first holiday after my husband left was also the Thanksgiving I was on crutches from knee surgery. I was in no mood to make a big turkey dinner and the kids were in no mood to eat it.
So instead we created Pizza, Pie & Popcorn Day. We ordered pizza, ate store-bought pumpkin pie, and then went to the movies. It’s three years later and the kids still say it was the best Thanksgiving ever.
Maybe for you it’s a living room Nerf war or an after-dark hide-and-seek game in the backyard. Or you could recycle those moving boxes and make them into a cardboard slide running down the stairs. The point is to create opportunities to make new memories in your new home.
With a little ingenuity and creativity, a new house – or even an old house – can feel like a home again.