Knee-deep in moving one’s family to a new location, and life gets weighed down with a host of stresses. Already noted is how to make the transition of moving easier for your kids, but what about once you get there?
What defines home for a person in a new place?A subjective consideration with often universal applications — especially when considering the well-being of your kids. As a father, the question became what environment do I need to foster to create “home” for my daughter? What does she require?
For the sake of argument, let’s define home as a fixed location in which a person feels safe, capable of relaxing, and comfortable to the point of being carefree. In my mind, the necessary tenets to creating such an atmosphere can be broken down into three categories:
- Inanimate Things – On the surface this seems overly simplistic, but when considering how complex a person’s connections with things can be, it makes sense. A hairbrush, a family photo, a blanket at the foot of the bed. When we were packing, I made sure to include a child’s small, wooden potty-chair — weathered from years outside in the garden, holding up potted plants. For my daughter it was a particular blanket and stuffed animal, not to mention her favorite shoes.
- Living Things – People, pets, even plants. Home often revolves around our connections with the living (or once living) — and this can be closely connected to the first category too. The blanket at the foot of the bed maybe a link to the departed grandparent who brought it on their journey to Canada from Holland. I have such a blanket. Even more important, the necessity of my wife and daughter’s presence. A child is especially aware of these connections and the comfort associated with them is paramount.
- Other Empirical Associations – The smell of certain food in the kitchen. A particular brand of laundry detergent. The way a floorboard creaks when you walk over it. These tend to change over time, of course, but they seem to work on the subconscious. Sitting in our temporary townhouse, my daughter remembered a particular smell from our old place: a clean blanket often draped over our couch.
The list can go on forever, but it seems things fall into one of these three categories. More important, understanding that there are ways to create a home environment for your child no matter where you are. Or for how long.
Harry Tournemille is preoccupied with home comforts these days, many miles away.