A lot has changed since the Brady Bunch and their plucky theme song about blending two families in one household. Here are six ways to navigate big housing changes for families that are merging together.
1. How to organize one family’s move into another’s domain
When merging homes, think about whether or not one family’s house could have enough space for everyone. If it does, would it make sense for everyone to relocate there? During this type of move, changes to the in-place family setup would likely need to occur to accommodate the new family members. These changes could include:
- How rooms or spaces are used (including spare bedrooms, offices, basements, attics, and bonus rooms)
- A shower schedule or time limits on bathrooms in the morning
- Dedicated homework time and entertainment time — especially if the house has only one big family room where both activities are performed
By creating guidelines around these spaces, you’ll likely set yourselves up for a smoother transition with expectations that everyone can count on. On top of determining how rooms are used, it is also necessary to coordinate plans for furniture within the space.
Although the family already in the home may enjoy their current organization, it may be necessary to do away with some furniture and decor items. Decide in advance what furniture will stay and what will go so that the moving family can also have their belongings accommodated. Decide on a gradual move-in or an all-at-once move and ensure that both families are prepped accordingly.
Alternatively, you may decide to start from the ground up with furniture, decor, and bedroom assignments. By treating the home as if it is new to everyone, this could be a great bonding experience as family members learn each other’s styles and quirks. Plus, everyone can enjoy creating new spaces and updated decor.
2. How to navigate a move for both families
Relocating both families into a new space will require lots of coordination and communication. A great way to start is by making a list of the main features that you will need in the new home, including:
- Family room
- Eat-in kitchen
- Playrooms, offices or other alternative spaces
- Garage space (don’t forget about bikes, toys and hobbies)
While searching for your next home, you’ll want to keep these spaces in mind. And, when it comes to bedroom space for each kid, be sure to aim for fairness. A smaller bedroom in your previous home may have been a non-issue, but it may become a point of contention for a kid who is already struggling with a move to a new space. To minimize claims of favoritism, try to offer equal space to each child while staying on budget.
After you’ve taken a count of the number of rooms and extra spaces needed in your new home, take a full inventory of the items you already have. Duplicate items from each household — like TVs, couches, chairs, end tables, lamps and kitchen equipment — should be considered. Then, determine what you’ll keep, donate, sell or toss prior to moving.
While you’re making a list of what you do have, also write down items that you may need to purchase for your new space. For example, it may be the right time to go in on a larger dining table to accommodate your growing family, a sectional couch or even just a Costco membership.
Throughout the move, be sure that your agent(s) are kept in the loop. Practicing excellent communication skills will ultimately lead to a more satisfied sale, especially if you are using different agents to sell your current properties. And, put your agents in contact with one another! It will take a bit more coordination to sell two houses and buy one all on the same timeline, but it can be done if you are open and straightforward throughout the process.
3. How to decide if anyone should change schools
This is one of the biggest decisions that you’ll make when merging households with school-age children. Be sure to consider:
Which school district is better?
Think beyond test scores here. Keep each child in mind when looking at schools, and look specifically at their needs, abilities, age and capacity to navigate change.
Are any kids graduating soon?
If any kids are graduating soon, especially from high school, assess if it would be possible to drive them to their final year or years there. The logistics would be complicated, but it may be worth it so they can graduate with their friends, stay on their teams and remain in a familiar academic system during their final months or years of high school.
Do your kids have any concerns?
Don’t assume you have all the answers. Talk to your kids! Ask them what their concerns are and try to work to alleviate them. Whether they’re worried about a lackluster lacrosse team, losing hardwon friendships or just starting over, it’s best to have a clear picture of the challenges they, and you will face during the transition. Oftentimes, anxiety accompanies change regardless of the nature of it — they may need more reassurance than usual that they are still important.
4. Navigating shared spaces
It is inevitable that some family members will be using shared spaces more than others. It may be due to work commitments, activities or shared parenting. No matter the reason, it is important that everyone feels at home.
Do your best to keep things fair and give everyone an equal say. If kids are sharing a bedroom, play areas or study corners, go the extra mile to make sure everyone has ownership in the space. Perhaps give each child a special chair, new bedding or something else that makes it feel special to them.
5. Start new traditions or make a group purchase
To make a new or existing house feel like home to everyone, try out some new traditions. You may set up a family dinner schedule, game nights or treat nights. Or, consider a big, shared family purchase — whether it’s a dog, a trampoline, swingset, in-ground pool or family membership to the local rec center.
Keep in mind that this may not be a hit at first, or you may need to try a few different tactics to find something that sticks (aside from the pet purchase… you’re stuck with that, so choose wisely). And, have low expectations going into these activities. There will likely be many people and emotions to sort through, so don’t get frustrated if game night is a bust at first. Also, schedule one-on-one time to make sure you’re connecting in meaningful ways.
6. Make sure you’re a united front, while also keeping open lines of communication
Remember that while you may be ecstatic to take the next step in your relationship, your kids may be struggling to weather the change. Check-in on your kids to see how they’re handling the move and allow it to be an emotional time. Set an example by keeping a positive focus and being available to listen.
Make the move
Merging two households is not a small feat. Coordination and communication are required to make the logistics of the move happen — like assigning rooms, determining duplicate household items, finding the right school and so much more.
By planning in advance and discussing your concerns with your family and real estate agent (or agents), you can prepare for a successful move.
If you’re ready to get your families under one roof, get in touch with Edina Realty or one of our agents for additional help.