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Load Up the Kids for Some Family House Hunting

Hunting for your next family home is an exciting time; a milestone for your family. Involving the kids in the house hunt is not only practical, but it is an important step in easing the transition. These ten parent-tested tips can make house hunting an enjoyable experience for the entire family!

1. Pack Snacks

Ask any parent and they will tell you; hungry kiddos are not happy kiddos. Keep a supply of low-mess, kid-friendly snacks to fill those little tummies. Foods like bananas, grapes, baby carrots, string cheese, crackers or dry cereal are easy to pass out in the car between showings. Don’t forget the wipes to clean up sticky hands before walking through the next house.

2. Bring Water

I never leave home without a water bottle or sippy cup for each of my kids. Water is great because it doesn’t spoil in a warm car and doesn’t make too much of a mess if it gets spilled.

3. Kid-Friendly Schedule

Adults can look at several houses in a short timeframe but kids have a shorter attention span. Make sure kids are well-rested and have had some time to run off some energy before the first home. Limit the number of homes you visit in one day. When you are finished, take some time to check out the neighbourhood for parks or trails that you could enjoy together if you choose a home in that area.

4. Think Ahead

A little advance planning can make a big difference. Make sure your kids are wearing comfortable clothing. Choose shoes that they can easily take off and put on by themselves. Find ways to involve the kids in the house hunt. My kids love taking a clipboard with a list of items to look for in each home (use pictures for pre-readers). Have kids count the bedrooms, find a smoke detector, look for a pet cage, maybe even draw their favourite part of each home.

5. Expectations

You are the expert on your kids. Evaluate how many homes you can realistically view in a day and stick with it. It may take a few extra days of hunting but it will be worth it. Cramming too many homes into a short period of time leads to miserable little ones (and maybe grumpy adults). The houses you see will leave a better impression if everyone is smiling!

6. Be Prepared

When I do anything with little kids I bring my “Survival Essentials”. Don’t leave home without a change of clothes for each child, wipes and hand sanitizer! You might not need them but if you do, you’ll be glad you brought them along.

7. Reward Good Behaviour

Kids love to please their parents! Make an effort to notice good behavior and point it out as often as you can. A “Wow! You can walk so quietly!” or a “I didn’t know you could walk around that whole room without touching anything,” goes a long way with a preschooler. Don’t forget to end the day on a high note – a visit to the ice cream shop, a local splash pad or cookies at Grandmas!

8. Recruit Some Help

Moms and dads don’t need to do it all on their own. Is there a young teen in your life that could come along as a “mother’s helper”, maybe a cousin, or that teen on your street that really loves your kids? Having an older child along to hold a hand or read a book can give you those short breaks you may need to ask specific questions about the home or check out an area that may not be safe for your child.

9. Screens

Oh I wanted to be that Mom who had happy kids that never asked for screen time. But alas, life happens. I still limit screen time but I do keep an iPod in my purse with a few special cartoon episodes for those moments when we all need a break.

10. Choose a Real Estate Agent that Gets It!

Make sure you choose an agent who understands life with kids. They don’t need to be parents but they should like being around kids. Always inform your agent in advance that you will have children along with you for showings. They will need to be patient, understanding and flexible with the schedule. Who knows? Your kids might become their future client!

Parents will make the final house decisions but kids can and should be included in the process. It will be their home too and sometimes kids can point out things about a home that adults might overlook. Bring them along and make some family memories! They are only young once. Make the most of it!

Contributing writer: Jennifer Pitre