How to tell your kids you’re moving out of the family home:

At some point, your family home ceases to be simply bricks and mortar and develops a kind of personality of its own, lovingly crafted over time from your family’s combined memories. In many ways, you could say it becomes a member of the family in its own right.

Every laugh, every tear, the extraordinary moments and the heartaches experienced in the home combine to give it a distinctive spirit – at least in the eyes of those who’ve lived there together. Perhaps that’s why it can be hard to let go when it comes time to downsizing your home for retirement.

Your children especially may see your decision to selling the family home as abandonment – after all, it’s likely to be the one place they’ve been guaranteed to feel safe all their lives. And that’s no small thing.

However, that does not mean you’re duty bound to stay, especially when you can no longer manage the space easily.

Ideally, your children will play an active role throughout your decision making process, providing a reliable sounding board for assessing your options. However, broaching the subject can be tricky if they have a strong attachment to the home. Here are some suggestions to help you get the ball rolling:

1. Have a strong idea of what you want ahead of time. Your downsizing decisions need to suit your own needs . Sometimes your kids want you to stay in the family home because it suits their own needs and desires rather than yours. Be firm about what you think you need and try to avoid vague plans or engaging in lengthy consultations, unless you want your kids to sway your decision.

It can be a trickier proposition if your grown children still live with you. In this case it’s best not to spring the news on them without warning (i.e. after you’ve already sold your home!). Make your plans but give them time to adjust as well.

2. Consider basic change and grief management. The loss of the family home can be distressing for those who feel a strong attachment to it. Being a repository of memories, it’s also possible to feel grief when the family home is sold to someone else, just as you would if you lost a close personal friend.

Understanding is key for a painless emotional transition; particularly if you think your family is likely to take your decision to downsize home badly. Remind them they’ll always be welcome wherever you live – this suggests ‘home’ is a concept rather than just a place.

This also reinforces that being a parent isn’t just about providing housing and financial support – it’s about guidance, love and encouragement no matter where they, or you, live.

3. Help them find a home of their own. Boomerang kids – children in their 20s to early 30s who still live with you – can complicate your plans to move or downsize

Start by acknowledging their issues, then sit down with them to plan a solution – whether that’s how to afford a new apartment of their own, helping them find a rental and a flat mate or working out a reasonable timeline for the change to happen. Providing extra certainty and compassion can smooth the transition and help everyone make the shift more easily.

4. Make a memory palace together. Once everyone starts to come to terms with the changes, suggest a time for a get-together to say a final farewell to the home by sharing a special meal and favourite memories.

Marking the transition formally in this way can go a long way towards facilitating a smoother change. You could also take photos of your family home and create an album of treasured pictures for everyone to keep (if you’re not handy with a camera, consider asking one of the kids to do the job for you).

Lastly, it’s important to realise not all family members will experience the transition in the same way. Whatever you can do to alleviate and facilitate the process – with compassion and empathy – will go a long way towards reducing any emotional strain on the family.

That being said, you should also keep in mind that just because you’re saying goodbye to the place your memories were made, you’re not relinquishing the memories themselves. You’re just fashioning a new place for them to live.

Thinking about downsizing after retirement? Consider an Encore Living 55 plus lifestyle community! Speak to our friendly team now for more information – call 1800 ENCORE (1800 362 673).


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