Over the last year and a half we've all spent more time at home than we ever thought possible. So if the opposite of the saying “absence makes the heart go fonder” is “familiarity breeds contempt”, some of us may find ourselves feeling frustrated and bored with our homes. But what never changes is that our homes are our children’s sanctuary from an uncertain and sometimes frightening or stressful outside world. It’s our job to make sure that our home is their haven. So make sure that when our children walk through the front door, they are exactly where they need to be to flourish - both physically and emotionally.
1. Love your home today - exactly as it is.
No matter what kind of home you live in - a rental apartment, a fixer-upper or your dream forever home - it is the sanctuary your children need right now. Don’t waste time wishing your home was bigger or cleaner or looked more like your sister’s. Any future goals you have for your home will come in time, but you’ll never get today with your family back again. Appreciate the four walls you live in for all that they provide you with, and your children will pick up on that. When they look back on their childhood one day they will remember how you made them feel when they were at home, and not what it looked like.
2. Provide a refuge for thoughts and feelings
Home should be a place your kids feel comfortable sharing their feelings - and this means all their feelings. They need to be able to share with you their excitement over the snail they just found just as much as they need to be able to unburden about being bullied at school. Remember that the small things lead to the big things, so listen, even when you’re busy. Put down your phone when your toddler is telling you about the mud pie they just made, answer their endless questions about where water comes from and how far away the moon is. Conversation is the most valuable currency in your home - be liberal with it and you’ll reap the benefits as they grow up.
3. Don’t treat home as "just a base"
Try to be at home together as a family as much as possible, instead of using it as a base to hop from activity to activity. Choosing activities for our children is great, but if the only time they spend at home is the exhausted hours between endless activities, you’re all missing out. Try to spend meaningful time together in your home, playing games, cooking together, or just reading books in a sunny spot in each other’s presence. This time doesn’t need to be over-structured - in fact, the less structured, the better. Your children need to know that time at home is low-pressure time.
4. Provide predictability
Children - like adults - do best when they know what to expect. much has been said by psychologists about the value of routine for children’s development, and it’s a relaxed and flexible routine that will make your home a true haven for them. Having dinner and more or less the same time each night, having a ritual that they can depend on, sticking to a bed-time routine… all these things bring great comfort to a child and contribute to their feeling of security and peace at home. Read our recent post about creating a night-time routine that everybody will enjoy - because predictability at home works for you all.
5. Limit technology
We’re not saying ban all screen time, but if the home is to be a place of connection for your family it’s important that you carve out some time when you all (and that includes you too) put away your phones and tablets and spend time together - in conversation or in comfortable silence. If we want our kids to have a healthy relationship with technology as they grow up, we have to model it for them.
A cluttered home can lead to a cluttered mind, and we all know that there’s no worse way to start a day than panicking because you can’t find a book/tennis racquet/shoe. Your home doesn’t need to be perfect, but if you can keep it relatively organised you will save yourself a lot of time and stress, which will translate to less stress for your children when they have their own worries about the pressures and challenges that await them outside your own four walls. Have designated places for items you need, put shoes (and socks - because how many times have you run around desperately hunting for a pair of matching socks?!) near the front door, pack bags the night before, keep wardrobes in good order… All of these small things help you to run your life more smoothly, and help your children to feel safe and calm when they’re at home.
7. Make your home a fun place to be
In our busy lives we sometimes forget that at the end of the day, kids respond to fun. So have fun with them! Find ways of working fun into your day, and you’ll realise how much you needed a sprinkling of fun as well. Play games together, let them build that fort without worrying about the mess, jump on the trampoline or have water balloon fights on a hot day. Remembering the child in you will help you to connect with your children in the most magical way and these are the moments they will remember.
As parents, what we want more than anything is for our children to be safe and loved and to look back on their childhood with happy memories. The easiest way to give this to them is to focus on making their home not perfect, not shiny or instagram-worthy, but a haven for them to escape to and recuperate in when the outside world is hard. Whether they're 5 or 35!
Good People is a domestic staffing agency specialising in introducing high quality household assistance. We provide a simple, fast and professional service to recruit trained and vetted staff who match your family values. To discuss what we can do for you, or to join the Good People Club, get in touch today.