If you, like many parent homeowners, have just bought a new house to raise your kids in, no one is more excited than the children themselves. Moving to a new place is always a big experience for children, especially if they’re old enough to understand home ownership and the implications: No more landlords, and the freedom to modify the house however you want. Even if you managed to hold together things like bedtime, teeth brushing, and good behavior throughout the move, that first night surrounded by boxes in a brand new house is often more excitement than most kids can handle. Most likely, they’re bouncing off the walls, eager to unpack boxes, explore the house, and in general chattering up a storm. Let’s face it, tonight isn’t going to be a normal routine night for any of you, so you might as well make it special.
Your first night is a new house is something to be celebrated and your kids will feel that energy of potential, promise, and a little bit of strangeness. To help them and yourself settle into the new home, we have five fun suggestions for how to spend that first night with your boxes, children, and brand new house.
1) Announce a One-Time Pass on Bedtime
The very first step is to accept that bedtime is just not going to happen. First, their beds might not even be assembled yet and second, your kids are likely too excited to sleep on command anyway. Instead of making this a fight, make it a party instead. Announce to your children that because tonight is very special, bedtime is cancelled. Make it clear that they can grab a pillow and blanket for a nap any time they feel sleepy but you’re going to be awake tonight so they are allowed to join you. This will make you a superhero of new-house parenthood and the rest of the night will go much more smoothly with this out of the way.
2) Build a Box-and-Blanket Fort
Never has there been a better opportunity for a blanket fort. With the house in disarray anyway and everything packed into boxes, this is the perfect moment to build a box castle and an entire army of blanket forts. Simply fish out and crack open the big lightweight bedding boxes and help your kids to go wild. Don’t be surprised if the living room becomes an obstacle course of crawl spaces, castle towers, and secret napping nooks for sleepy younger ones. Just make sure to separate out the boxes of fragiles before they get climbed on.
3) Make Room Signs
Part of celebrating moving in, especially when you have a brand new home that’s never belonged to anyone else, is claiming your space. No doubt laying dibs on individual bedrooms was part of your selection process when you chose to buy this home so your children are already invested in making their rooms their own. While you probably won’t get everything completely set up tonight, a little arts and crafts goes a long way. Help your children make personalized room signs with their names to hang on or above the doors. This is a great way to claim a space before you get unpacked.
4) Choose the New Growth Chart Wall
One of the best traditions of homeowner parenting is growth chart wall, a place to make little pencil marks every few months as your children get bigger. This truly makes the space your own because it puts a little bit of their childhoods into the home itself. Choose a wall in the house that will be honored by your years of little lines and make your first marks. You can do one in each child’s room, on the wall between their doors, or even in the living room if you want to mark a more public space. This will help both you and the children settle into the idea of being in this house for a long time as they grow up.
5) Unpack Their Rooms First
Finally, when deciding what to do with the long energetic hours of the night, the best place to start is by fully unpacking and arranging your children’s rooms. This will allow you to return to a normal child-rearing routine as early as tomorrow because your kids will have their beds, desks, toys, and clothes available to them. Start by working with your kids to decide where their furniture will go and how they want their room arranged, then unpack together loading up bookshelves and closets. Remember to hang up a few things on the walls for that final welcoming touch.
Children can make fantastic moving companions as long as you’re prepared for their adorable combination of over-excitement, eagerness to help, and eventual passing out from a long eventful day. Be sure the pillow fort is ready for little sleepers and don’t be surprised if a child either stays up all night or conks out without even realizing it. With the right mindset, you can have the best first-night move in ever.
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