Making Adult Children (And Their Families) Feel Comfortable In Your Downsized Home

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.

Family Rituals


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.


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  1. Your advice was spot on Yvonne! We downsized seven years ago. I turned the “frog” furnished room over garage, into a kid’s space. I have beds lined up for each grandchild, toys and books are available along with their own television hanging for viewing and video games. The mess is all contained to one space and adults can easily maneuver downstairs without tripping over Legos. They love it and it makes visiting special with their own space. I hope they are creating their own memories.

  2. Joyce Kennard says:

    Yvonne, crying as I read this issue. But, these seem to have been the steps in our life. Also, as we raised our children and have so much enjoyed our grandchildren. Now time has creeped in and the grandchildren are growing, some married with children and some away at college and my special husband just passed. So, this will make another event in the life for those we love to accept. But, the special memories we all have of each of the time is forever in our hearts. Thanks for making me feel special in this memory. Even tho you are much younger than me, I appreciate your wisdom. Take care and may God Bless You

    1. Oh, Joyce! I am so sorry for your loss. You have beautifully written what I wanted to say. You are a testimony of the importance of loving our family and nurturing them! God bless you!

  3. Marcia Walter says:

    Very timely, thank you. Four months ago I moved to be nearer my daughter, s-i-law and two grandsons. I’m just now really getting to know all of them, except of course for my daughter. Their first supper in my new home made me rethink that white sofa purchase a few years ago. Decided I need to buy a slipcover so everyone can just relax already! Also, loved your comment about a reminder when disrespect bubbles to the surface. It’s difficult to do when activities (e.g. eating wherever they want) is allowed in their home that I don’t want to become a habit in mine…at least until they understand why there are edges on a plate.? My grandparents had rules, we followed them and I don’t remember power struggles. I do remember overwhelming and unconditional love…something I truly hope my grandchildren can say when they reflect back on me. Thanks, Yvonne.

    1. Sometimes that line is hard. I think every grandparent feels like you do to some degree. I always want love to win out. I had an absolutely fabulous grandmother. We lived with her while my Dad was assigned to remote bases in the Air Force. I never remember her being anything but loving. I guess she did not worry like we do about kid messes. And she had a daughter that was was on top of cleaning everything up.

  4. “I’m sure you know this, but make sure the stories we tell are ones your children would want to be told.” If only my mother followed this bit of advice. She tells anyone and everyone at any gathering stories that still, after all these years, make me want to hide from humiliation and embarrassment. I will make sure I NEVER do this to my children.

    1. Oh, Lynn! I feel your pain! So sorry. I have a close relative that revels in telling stories like that too!UGH!

  5. Wonderful ideas! Thank you, Yvonne.

  6. Wonderful post! With two grown sons out of state, I love that we remain close through vacations and visits. And once a month zoom calls! So many good tips in this article, I’m making some notes for this weekend when son and girlfriend visit with their two big loving dogs. Having favorite foods and snacks on hand, dog bowls and toys out is great. I bought a nice looking white storage chest in the dining room full of kids toys for when grandson visits. The more the merrier is my motto, all are welcome here! Thanks for writing this thoughtful post.

  7. CarolBinTX says:

    We’re still living in our children’s childhood home. For years, they wanted us to keep it for one of them to return to later. As they’ve married or gotten into serious relationships, they have stopped asking us to “keep” the house and they want us to move closer to them (they live in the same city 1000 miles away). We are struggling with this decision, fearful that they will pack up for new opportunities later on, then we’re stuck in an unfamiliar city. When they come home, they want to visit with their friends here, not their old parents. I try to remain flexible with meals and activities, try not to build up idealic holiday gatherings, but it’s disappointing that they don’t spend time with us. They do however share good memories of their childhood lives, so there’s consolation there. In the meantime, I’ve been purging and donating. I don’t want them to deal with clutter later on. I text them pictures of the things I’m ready to get rid of and they tell me whether or not to hang onto them. Recently, they both asked for stained glass pieces that my dad had made and remember them hanging in our windows.

    1. Hi Carol, thanks for sharing. Making the move to downsize, is not usually easy. You have lots of decisions to make. Do it prayerfully.

  8. Laura Behanna says:

    Thank you For this today!! We just put a binder on a condo and are downsizing from a big home. I am overwhelmed in several areas, but have been thinking of this especially. Our one daughter is very happy, but the other daughter is solo. She’s the one who stays with us when she and my son in law and 2 grandsons come to visit. They’ve been using a few bedrooms to stay in when they are here but we will only have one and a loft area. I definitely will take your advice and if you have any other downsizing tips, I would appreciate it. It’s a bit overwhelming but I know its the right thing and inevitable.

    1. Lurania Santo says:

      Laura…I too downsized from a 3,000 sq ft home to a 1,800 sq ft. condo and moved closer to family. Family health issues had us move together in stead of making rash decisions later. It was overwhelming, but like you said inevitable. We purged so much stuff and donated to charities. Word to the wise, condos have minimal closet space, only keep what you love. Think of this move as a new beginning. Buy new things if you can enjoy the freshness of the new place. It WILL take time, believe me you won’t miss the maintenance. You’ll make new friends and the family will adjust. If there are clubs join them…it’s a New Chapter.


    2. Laura Behanna says:

      Thank you so much. So timely again. My daughter asked me today if there would be room for them. That’s about the size we’re coming from and the size we’re going to! I’ll have to go to all your old posts because yours looks so big and beautiful!! Thank you again!! I remember at one point you were consulting on designing via the phone. Do you still do that? I probably will need help. Thank you!

      1. Hi Laura, the day I moved from StoneGable to the Tanglewood House was a shock! I stood in the great room of our new 2,600 sq foot home and said outloud, ” I moved into a tiny home. However, our home is really the perfect size for us! Just right. And although we are cozy when everyone come, there is room for everyone. We considered adding a big room with a small kitchen and bath in our basement, but then we are defeating the idea of downsizing. And the cost was way more than we wanted to spend.

  9. First of all, I am so sorry about all the surgeries, that is so life challenging. I’m thankful that the Lord saw you through it all.
    I remember when you moved, and I thought how hard that must have been. And yet we are at the crossroads ourselves with our only child 3,000 miles away now. Praying about what is next for us, when I can’t see us going to a cold climate when I also have mobility issues. However, being close to family and grandchildren would be worth it! Thank you for all these practical and wonderful ideas. I implement them now when they’re so far away from home and come to visit. Our house looks like a tornado, and I love that tornado so much because it means that there is love, laughter, fun, and children about! Blessings do you always, thanks for your wonderful consistent posts and your heart for our Lord.

  10. Great post! I’m in the downsized stage with 3 grown married “kids” and 3 little grands. A post to remember! Thanks!

  11. Sherry Myers says:

    Yvonne, this was excellent. I enjoyed reading every detail! Inspiring. Just lovely.
    Sherry M.

  12. Teri Pickens says:

    What an awesome post. There is so much in there that I can use for my grown children and my grand babies!
    Have a great week!

  13. Linda Johnston says:

    We aren’t moving yet but we are passing along many items, if wanted, to our 5 kids. The 3 married ones have houses so we often go to their places After all, they want their own tradtions and memories of their homes. This year we are off to Baltimore for Thanksgiving with everyone. Enjoying your transition posts

    1. CarolBinTX says:

      I have started going to where our kids live too, fortunately they ended up in the same place (hubs doesn’t always make the trip). You are right, they want to start their own traditions, but it’s fun to see how many of mine they’ve kept with a few tweaks…tamales and opening gifts on Christmas Eve, Arabic food on Christmas Day, etc. They want us to move north where they have winter weather and a white Christmas, but my husband cannot tolerate the cold (he’s from the Sahara desert)! We’re also afraid if we make a big move, they’ll have opportunities to move on one day and we’d either have to follow them or stay put! Besides, we are retired, we have funds to travel and the time. I help out, whatever they need, be it laundry, meals or cleaning bathrooms. It’s all stuff I’d being doing at home anyway and it helps my daughter out.

  14. Oh, Yvonne, such an insightful post, full of loving suggestions. We have always felt the main thing was to be together. We are now up to 15; with three grand dogs and we have a new kitten. So appreciate your perspective.

  15. Chicken Bangladesh Recipe? Love to have it. Thanks