When we moved from California to Texas, we moved into a temporary house while we looked for a house to buy. This wasn’t necessarily ideal, but due to finances and logistics it was what was best for our family. Our AirBnB was nice enough. It was clean and clutter free. There was plenty of space for our family, a large backyard and a park right down the street. However, it definitely didn’t feel like home. The kids had to share queen size beds with each other. The area wasn’t the area we were planning to buy in. The kids’ school was a 40 minute commute, and the kitchen was very sparse. But, even with all the downsides, it was our home for two months, which was why I quickly became aware that I needed to do my very best to make it feel as comfortable, safe, and familiar as possible. If you are in a similar situation, I hope I can offer you some encouragement and practical tips to help in your season of waiting.
Here are 6 things I did to help our temporary house feel like home sweet home:
1. Provide Sights & Smells of Home:
As clean as our Air BnB was, it was not our style or vibe. The living room had turquoise couches. The bedding was flashy, and the art looked like it was stolen straight from the walls of a Best Western. In order to make it feel more like us, I made sure the kids had their own pillows and a favorite stuffy for their beds. I also let each of them pack a few of their favorite toys, so that while all of the rest of our stuff was packed in storage, they at least had some of their favorite belongings.
I packed a few of our favorite books to read together. I put cozy blankets on the couches and bought yummy smelling candles to burn in the evenings. I put fruit in a bowl on the counter and bought a cute mug to drink my morning coffee out of. These little things, although simple, truly made our temporary house feel more like home. My fellow rambler, Erika, wrote about comforting your family during a move. Read her post here for further encouragement: http://redstateramblings.com/5-tips-for-comforting-your-family-during-a-big-move/.
2. Tidy Up:
It’s not your own personal space, so it could be very easy to slack on cleaning. But, I promise you your temporary home will feel so much more comfortable if you keep it clean and tidy. It might be tempting to slack on vacuuming the floor, but a dirty home is not a pleasant one. Keep up on the dishes. Do the laundry. Buy a few baskets to stash toys in the living room. Put a basket by the door for shoes. Buy cheap storage drawers to organize clothes if your temporary home doesn’t have dressers, like ours. Keep up on little things to keep everything flowing well and peaceful. You might not love the blue linoleum in the kitchen, but keeping it clean will help keep you and your family more comfortable in the waiting season.
3. Keep Rhythms and Routines:
If you have moved your family to another state, chances are that everything has been turned upside down. New state. New city. New house. These aren’t easy adjustments. One of the easiest things you can do to help things feel “normal” for your family is to keep up with your family routines and rhythms. For us, this meant that Friday night was take-out and family movie night. Crazy how something so simple can make everyone feel more at home. In addition, if you are going to celebrate a birthday or holiday while living in your temporary house, make sure you stick with your family’s traditions for that particular occasion. Plan ahead if Easter baskets need to be prepped or birthday decorations need to be bought. Keep these special moments special for your family.
Some other things we continued to do: eating dinner together as a family every night, devotions after dinner, Saturday morning donuts, and finding ways to be outside together. At times, things will still probably feel very unsettling but it’s truly amazing how comforting traditions and rhythms can be.
4. Practice Good Habits:
When life feels chaotic, it can be very easy to slack on simple things. However simple things like eating healthy, drinking water, exercising, and spending time in the Word are some of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well being. These good habits are pillars that will help you get through the tough and crazy times. It may seem easier to order take out every night instead of trying to cook in a small and unfamiliar kitchen, but good healthy food that nourishes you and your family’s bodies will be more beneficial than eating chicken strips again. A few things that kept me sane during this crazy time were taking my daily walk, planning our dinners, and waking up early to read my Bible. Continue to practice those good habits that make you feel your best.
5. Be Active & Explore:
We only packed a small amount of things to be with us in our temporary house, but we made sure to bring the kids’ scooters and skateboards. My kids love to be outside. They always have a lot of energy that needs to be burned off. We frequented the park down the street and spent a lot of time in our backyard. It was important that we found ways in our temporary house for our kids to be active and spend time outside.
We also found that the kids felt more excited about our new state as we spent time getting out of the house and exploring. In between touring new houses to buy, we also prioritized exploring our new area. We had a blast doing some touristy outings. The kids loved seeing new places and trying new restaurants. With the right mindset, it really can be so fun and exciting to explore your new area.
6. Keep it Spicy:
By God’s grace, my husband and I are blessed with a very sweet marriage. We truly treasure and enjoy each other. But, in a crazy season, being intentional with your spouse can easily be put on the back burner. It can be easy to let the stress of the move and logistics get in the way of spending quality time together. Or it can be easy to let emotions take over and spend the evenings being anxious and tearful instead of investing into one another. This is a new journey that you are on TOGETHER.
Pray together and find ways to draw closer to one another in the midst of the change and the chaos. Communicate your needs as clearly as possible, being that expectations may change due to all the external changes. If you don’t have a babysitter yet, like us, plan at home date nights. Find little ways to encourage one another and flirt with each other. Having a strong and godly marriage should always be a priority, but during a time of change and stress it may need some extra TLC.
I definitely didn’t do any of these things perfectly, but I will say that when we look back on these two months of living in our AirBnB, we have some very sweet and special memories. It never felt completely like home, but it did feel safe and it did feel comfortable. It was our first home in our new State of Texas!