Divorced Parents Guide to House Hunting
Blog Written By Jennifer Zelman
3 Things to Consider When House Shopping as a Newly Single Parent
Whether you are in the beginning, middle, or end stages of a divorce, it’s probably fair to say that you have a lot on your plate. Things are in disarray and the last thing you want to do is go shopping for a new house. The whole thing is emotionally (and financially) draining. As a certified stepfamily coach, second families and their domestic situations are things I am dealing with every day. There are lots of factors to consider but these three guidelines will help you and your children adjust to your new “modern” family structure a bit more seamlessly. The home is a sacred place, so choosing a new one carefully is of utmost importance, especially when there are children involved.
1: Real Estate’s Favorite Mantra: Location, Location, Location
Yes, you did just get divorced to create distance between you and your spouse, but proximity to her house MUST be a big consideration when looking for your new pad. No, you don’t have to be next door neighbors, but living nearby (within 10-15 minutes) will be a life savor. Think about all those times your daughter is going to forget her favorite stuffed animal at your ex-spouse’s house that you absolutely have to drive back for. You will spare yourself so much hassle if you stick to this 10-15 minute radius rule. Also, your children are already undergoing so many changes with their parents splitting. Familiar surroundings (e.g. stores, restaurants, friend’s houses) will only help. We want to stay within the comfort zone. Plus, when they are older and have more say in where they spend their time, chances are that you will see them more often if you are only a short ride away. Take the map, draw a tight circle around your ex’s house, and begin your house hunting there.
2: Kid Friendly Pad Versus Bachelor/ette Pad
It’s only natural if part of you is psyched to be newly single. However, you cannot allow this single guy fantasy to cloud your house hunting judgment. Go crazy with the man cave your wife never gave you, but when it comes to the rest of the house, you must keep your children in mind. It is going to be a weird, unfamiliar place for your kids and your goal should be making them not only comfortable in your new diggs, but actually excited to visit! You do this by making it the “fun” house. When my husband was freshly divorced, his new home was nicknamed “the clubhouse”. It wasn’t filled with fancy furnishing that nobody could touch. The focus was on the kids being happy to go there because they were spending time with their dad and having fun in a new, exciting space. By putting a positive spin on the place, the kids will look forward to visiting, rather than dread it.
3: Think Like a Kid
As grown up as they may seem, kids are kids and think much differently than we do. Take a second to think about what’s really important to them. Better yet, how about just asking them what they have on their wish list when it comes to a new home? Maybe your aquatic seven year old wants nothing more than a swimming pool. Or maybe getting a pet is something that has always been on your children’s wish list. Then perhaps narrowing it down to pet friendly buildings is a good idea. Of course just because you inquire about your children’s ideal living situation doesn’t mean that you have to fulfill their ultimate desires. And of course we are not trying to bribe our kids into liking our place more than mom’s. The point is, we make a lot of assumptios about what our kids value, and the truth is, we might not always be correct. The best way to find out is to ask and at least get the conversation going. Because remember, this is a tough time for all family members involved, and the more talking you do about it, the better. Kids need to express their emotions and have the opportunity to grieve, but also the opportunity to look at this as a time of change, excitement and even a little fun.
Jennifer Zelman is a Certified Stepfamily Coach, creator of the stepmom support vlog www.NachoMom.club, and author of the children’s book I Have a Stepmom: Hooray! She is one the cover of this month’s issue of Stepmom Magazine and has recently appeared on SiriusXM, i24 News, Headline News, and Fox5 for her works with stepfamilies. Jennifer is a stepchild turned full time stepmom, and lives locally in Brookville, NY with her husband, two teenage stepkids and toddler.