Downsizing and moving into a new home affects not only you but your grown children too. Here are ideas to make them feel welcomed and comfortable in your downsized home.
I have not written a downsizing post for quite a while. It’s been almost four years since we moved from our beloved StoneGable to our downsized home, the Tanglewood House. I’ve written the series so far, concentrating on the downsizer’s point of view. But I think we need to chat a bit about our adult kids and how to make them feel comfortable in our downsized homes.
For the first time last week, I drove by StoneGable and forgot to blow it a kiss. I know this is a silly little thing I do, but I just did not even look to the left to look wistfully at this home we did life in for almost 25 years. I just drove past it! When I realized what I had done, I almost wanted to turn the car around and try again!
This got me thinking: if this home still tugs so hard at my heartstrings, do my grown children miss it? And in a more general sense, what do we as downsizers do or should do to help our children feel welcome and make memories in our new homes.
Our new homes most probably are homes our adult children have never lived in. Some of the furnishings might be the same, but it is a different home. They may have been okay with you downsizing, had a big problem with it, or have been very neutral. No matter how they met and digested the news of you moving from a home they lived in, the whole downsizing thing is new to them, too! If you are like me, you want your children to feel very much at home in your downsized house.
About Downsizing And Our Children
Bobby and I did not make the decision to downsize on our own. We talked to each of our children and their spouses about how they felt. StoneGable was their home, and they loved it as much as Bobby and me. It held their best memories and was a place for every family gathering! It was a sanctuary from every storm and a place where there was always room for one or a few more around our table!
By the time we downsized, both of our children were married and starting families of their own. They understood that this was not a decision we might not have chosen just yet, but when a foot surgery led to almost two years in a wheelchair (on and off), and 11 operations, downsizing was the smart option for us.
If our children had any angst about us moving, we never knew. They made it so easy for us. Except for the basement! Neither of our children had room for all the trophies, drum sets, American Girl dolls, pool table, clothing, and a plethora of other things they kept there. But that story is for another time.
So, when you make the move to a home your children did not grow up in, how do you make them feel at home? I’m not sure I have all the answers, so leave any good ideas or your experiences in the comments below. You have been so generous in sharing your experiences throughout this downsize series.
Here are a few ideas that might help…
Have Honest, Open Dialogue About Expectations
I think it is all about expectations! Everyone has their own! It is important to know what your expectations are… about almost everything!
Your kids (just a scenario for illustration) may have the expectation you would love to have them come visit for the summer, and your expectation is we would love to have you stay for a few days.
You may have the expectation that the dogs will stay at your kid’s home because you don’t want their nails to scratch your new hardwood floors, and they expect that dogs are welcome as usual.
Maybe expectations will not change in a downsized home, but maybe they will. It’s a very good idea to calmly and with love talk through what everyone expects. It’s so much easier when everyone knows the drill.
If You Have Room, Make A Guest Room For The Kids
If your kids don’t live close to you in your downsized home, one of the best ways to make them feel comfortable is to make your guest rooms available for them if you have the room. And a bathroom, too.
When we moved to the Tanglewood House, both of our children and their young families lived about 2 1/2 hours away. We have two guest rooms here at Tanglewood, so we let them know that these rooms were theirs when they came to our home. We put Pack And Play cribs in both bedrooms, along with an assortment of crib sheets, baby wipes, etc. We stocked the pantry with baby food, and as the grandkids multiplied, we kept lots of age-appropriate toys and books on hand, as well as food the grandkids loved. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable!
For us, being together is the important thing. So when we are all here at Tanglewood, we are cozy! Babies sleep in bathrooms in Pack And Plays, and little kids sleep on a pile of comforters on the floor.
This post is about ways to make our grown children feel comfortable in your downsized home, and making room to be together is a great way to make them feel comfortable and welcome.
The topic of pets can easily create angst. So communicate, communicate, communicate.
One of our children has a nice but quite unruly dog. Bobby and I decided that NOTHING would put a stumbling block in the way of our children and grandchildren coming and being comfortable in our home. And unless the slobbery dog who sneaks up on our furniture comes, the kids would probably come less often. So we welcome the dog. And he is a non-issue!
It’s all about compromise, friend!
Make Your Kids Favorite Food
This seems so simple, but a family’s favorite foods are tied to our fondest memories. My children loved a dish called Chicken Bangladesh. It was chicken and Stovetop Stuffing and cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. I’m not sure how this dish got its name, but our kids loved it! And now our grandchildren to too! I make it once in a while, and you would think we were having filet and lobster tail! Chicken Bangladesh is a big deal.
Raw Apple Cake was one of their favorites, too! But Raw Apple Cakes seems to be everyone’s favorite!
Think about what favorite foods your grown children only get at your home and make them.
If your kids live near you, have them for dinner on a regular basis! Our son Christopher moved his family from Arlington Va back to Lancaster Co., So we love having their family for dinner often.
Keep Favorite Traditions
Traditions are the glue that keeps families together. And we love traditions. You may not be able to continue all of the traditions you once did in your larger home, but you can keep some (hopefully the most important) or tweak old traditions to work in your new home and with your current lifestyle.
One of the traditions that has been passed down for four generations in our family is that the children sit on the top steps upstairs on Christmas morning until the adults go down and see if Santa came, aka make coffee and get cameras ready. We also would not let our kids downstairs until their beds were made, their teeth brushed, their faces washed, and their hair brushed. I know, call me a Grinch. But I had the best pics of our kids Christmas morning.
Our stairs are open to the living room here at the Tanglewood House, so our grandchildren can’t sit at the top steps and not see the activities going on downstairs. So I tweaked this tradition a bit and asked the mommies and daddies to help the grand put their shoes outside their doors. We told the little ones they could open their door just to get their shoes, but they had to stay in their room until we called them. When they got their shoes on Christmas morning, they overflowed with little toys to keep our grandchildren busy till Bobby could get the tree lights on and I could start the coffee. Then, all the kids come downstairs together. This new twist on an old tradition was such a hit!
Keep Family Stories Alive
I’m sure you have lots of family stories. Funny, sad, and lots in between. Sharing them around a table while having a meal in your downsized home or around a firepit in your downsized backyard will make everyone feel loved and comfortable.
I felt this quite poignantly on a family vacation to the Otter Banks this summer. One evening out on the deck of our rental, overlooking the ocean, I told a funny story about my son Christopher when he was a little boy. Our three oldest grandchildren, six, six, and five, LOVED the story and asked for more all week long! And our kids enjoyed the stories, too. Our in-law-kids told stories about themselves, and we did as well. Keeping these stories alive is like family traditions, glue!
I’m sure you know this, but make sure the stories we tell are ones your children would want to be told.
Another super simple idea, do the things that draw your family together.
My husband’s family were big card players. Me, not so much. However, when we all get together after the babies are put to bed, everyone but me plays cards. I just enjoy everyone’s company. We have so much fun!
Pizza and a movie is another ritual we keep. We did this when our kids were young. Now, when our kids are here, we all cram into our small sunroom to watch a movie. I love to see my grown son and son-in-law watching a movie like A Bugs Life.
These family rituals are so important to keep alive! They are especially important for your children’s children.
Find Alternative Areas For Family Gathering
If you no longer have the space in your home, find other spaces to have family gatherings. I have a friend who uses her garage to host Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. To her, it is about being together and not having a picture-perfect celebration. I love her style! If you don’t have a garage, go out to dinner!
When our son and his family moved back to Lancaster Co, our daughter-in-law Abagail asked to host Thanksgiving last year. This was very different for me! I have hosted all holidays for over 40 years. However, I was so proud of her! We had a wonderful holiday! And for the first time in decades, I was not bone tired on Thanksgiving evening.
Discuss it with your kids. Get creative.
Know Ahead Of Time… Accidents Happen
Life is messy! Things happen. Just know your white sofa will probably be stained, your walls will be scratched by a kid with a car, black marker will get on your white island countertop, and your favorite lamp will have a football go astray like a heat-seeking missile knock it over. And when you finally have moved into a downsized home with a few new things, that might be a bit hard to take!
How we handle those times will set the tone for making our kids and grandkids feel at home in our homes or making them feel like they have to walk on eggshells. There is a big difference between our family disrespecting our home and the inevitable everyday mishaps.
I am perfectly comfortable taking one of our grandkids aside and reminding them to be respectful of our home when they forget. I remember they are a little precious work in progress.
As your family grows and your home shrinks, stuff happens! Not all the time, but it does happen!
Spend Time With Your Kids
In the hustle and bustle of comings and goings, we can feel like we did not spend any quality time with our children when they came to our downsized home. So true! Have a cup of coffee in the morning with your in-law child. Take your daughter for a manicure or take a walk with your son. Carve out even just a few minutes. It will mean so much to your relationship with them.
And if you really want them to come back, babysit the grand and let them go on a date. And spend time with your favorite little ones!
How To Make Your Grandkids Comfortable In Your Downsized Home
- Keep fun, age-appropriate toys, games, puzzles, and crafts on hand
- Have them for a sleepover.
- Help out with them when a parent is sick or needs an extra hand.
- Bake or cook with them.
- Go to a playground with them.
- Do a craft with them.
- Play games with your grandkids.
- Find what they love and be a part of it too.
I hope this post has given you practical ideas to help you with ideas for making those we love feel comfortable in our downsized home.
If you have ideas or experiences making your grown children feel welcomed and comfortable in your downsized home, please share them with us in the comments.