It’s that time again. You just got new orders, and you’re already packing your lives up for another move across the country. When you’re moving so often, it can be difficult to pay attention to what makes a house a home.
Maybe you’ve got the “move” part of moving down-pat already, but what about settling into your new house? You need to know how to make a house a home, and that’s where we come in. We’ve got a ton of great tips to help you put the home back into your house.
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What Makes a House a Home? 11 Things to Do After Moving in.
1. Put Your Furniture (Somewhat) Where it Belongs
Nothing says “this ISN’T home” like empty rooms with absolutely no furniture in them. It doesn’t have to be the final layout of the room, but if you have things like couches, recliners, ottomans, or even a couple of bean bag chairs, put those at least generally where you think you might want them.
If you don’t want to move the larger items, pick up a couple of smaller, inflatable chairs or fold-out chairs. They can come in handy more than you may think!
When the first night post-move-in comes and you’re NOT stuck sitting on the floor with nothing to do, you’ll thank yourself for the work you put in earlier in the day.
2. Break out the Blankets
“Cozy” and “blankets” are pretty much synonyms at this point. If you want to up the comfiness anywhere, any time, bust out a blanket or two, and you’ll be set. If you don’t generally keep a lot of blankets in the house, this is your sign to change that.
You can go cheap and get a bunch of small throws or go all-in and get a giant 10’ x 10’ blanket (yes, those exist) that the entire crew can fit under, no matter how big or small that crew is.
3. Hide Your Moving Boxes
Out of sight, (sort of) out of mind! The moving boxes can pile up – literally. You might be tempted to use these as makeshift furniture while you get settled in, but we’d suggest otherwise.
At the very least, try to keep them out of the way of shared living spaces like the living room (and maybe even the kitchen, if possible). By doing this, you’re not reminding yourself of all the stress that comes with a change in installations every time you want to go grab a snack.
Of course you’re not going to forget that you’re moving, but the lack of a constant visual reminder (like moving boxes) can go a long way in training your mind to see your new house as a home sooner.
4. Light Some Candles
Your home is supposed to smell like one of two things: nothing or the most wonderful smell to have ever graced your nose. Chances are, your new home smells like neither of these things. Being able to smell your home, and knowing it doesn’t smell perfect, can make that homesickness kick in full force.
There is also a lot of research behind the power of smell and memory and how certain smells can affect your mood. According to HuffPost, the smell of pine can help alleviate stress, fresh cut grass can make you more relaxed, and vanilla can elevate your mood.
Find your favorite Bath and Body Works candle among your packed-up belongings or hop over and grab a new one from the BX or PX. No matter which is more convenient for you, a good scent will create a positive atmosphere while you’re trying to get acclimated to the new surroundings.
5. Unpack Family Photos
Don’t bother unwrapping the giant canvas of an eagle over the countryside just yet. Find the boxes that have all of your family photos in them. Unpack them, and start placing them around the house.
Think living room, near your bed (or where you’re planning on putting your bed), kitchen, and any other in-home hotspot where you and other family members will be passing often.
This goes back to what is probably the #1 defining element of home: family. The more pictures you have up of your family, the more normal your new place will start to feel.
6. Grab Some Snacks
Hungry and homesick is NOT a good combo. We know that things may be tight right now. It might not be economically feasible for you to go out and fully stock your fridge and pantry immediately after arriving.
However, it can be incredibly worthwhile to find a few of your family’s favorite snacks to fill up a drawer or two in the kitchen. Your house may change, but your favorite granola bar or snack cake will always be there for you.
7. Open the Blinds
Nothing is more refreshing than natural light. In fact, getting more natural light lessens your chances of experiencing things like depression and agitation, both of which homesickness can contribute to.
Don’t just open one or two windows; open them ALL for maximum sunlight (not to mention the fresh, crisp air of your new installation). Throw back the curtains, pull up the blinds, and bask in the sunlight. It’s gonna be a great season (and a great home)!
8. Start Making Memories
It’s easy to just lie down and fall asleep after moving in. We don’t blame you if that’s what you want to do! However, when thinking about the question, “What makes a house a home?” you’ll realize how much your fond memories come into play.
When you think of your favorite home so far, we doubt you think about the tri-colored brick of the exterior, the nostalgic popcorn ceilings, or the shag carpet in desperate need of a clean. Your mind probably wanders to that time when your kids screamed so loud during a game of Jenga that the neighbors came to check on you. Or maybe you think about your husband face planting in the backyard while playing with the dog.
No matter what memory you think of, these are what create these feelings of home within us, not the materials used to build it or the size of the master bedroom. Bust out a board game, host an impromptu family dance, or have a trivia night soon after moving in.
Once the memories start forming, so will the home.
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9. Sleep in Your Bed
We know how much you just want to create a pallet on the floor and call it a night. But think about where you felt most safe, comfortable, and calm in other homes? Nothing is as welcoming as your own bed, your own comforter, and your own pillow.
You don’t have to move the whole frame and box spring in immediately. However, it makes a lot of sense to at least bring in the mattress and blanket so you can actually sleep in your own bed instead of on the floor for the first few nights.
No matter how old we get or where we move to, our beds always offer us a secure, comfy place to decompress every day. Get that process started earlier in your new place by unpacking your mattress quickly.
We know cleaning might not have been the first item on your to-do list. After all, you have to visit so many different offices and coordinate with a lot of people when you first arrive on-base or on-post. However, cleaning can be more important than you realize.
While your new home may not necessarily be dirty, it might not be exactly the level of cleanliness that you’re comfortable with. Something as small as a dust bunny in the wrong place can throw off the mood of the home and make you feel uncomfortable.
You don’t have to do a deep clean. Doing a surface-level clean before moving bigger furniture in can make the home feel more like yours. At least you’ll know that any dust and dirt you see is your dust and dirt.
Hot Tip – Make, or find, a playlist or two to listen to while cleaning. Music can have an upbeat conquer-the-world effect when you need a bit of motivation and a let’s-do-this impact when you need an incentive to get moving.
11. Sleep In
What?! I’m allowed to sleep in while I’m still moving?!
Not only are you allowed, but you are encouraged. Sleeping in is the epitome of relaxation and the antithesis of stress. It gives your body and mind time to subconsciously acclimate itself to the new surroundings.
Plus, we know you’re more tired than ever during a move. This will give your body the much-needed time and energy it needs to mend itself before you get back into the hustle and bustle of moving.
What makes a house a home? Comfort, relaxation, happiness, family, and whatever YOU decide makes you and your family feel the most welcome in your new environment.
As you can see, there are a lot of different steps you can take to make your house a home. All of these tips are easy to do for anyone in the midst of a move, be it close to your old home or half the country away.
All in all, “home” is like a cake. If you don’t prepare it with love, it’s never going to come out correctly. Put time and effort into making your new house a home. If you do, it’s sure to feel like home much sooner than you thought possible.
Making your house a home outside of the continental U.S.? Check out our blog OCONUS PCS Move: An In-Depth Guide & 15 Expert Tips (2021 Edition).