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Making Home in the Temporary

Making Home in the Temporary

By Rachel Meeks

I’ve been living for the past seven months without a permanent home. My family moved out of our two-bedroom apartment, packed up the clothes and toys, sold a car, and basically we just left. My husband quit his job so we could spend a year together as a family instead of waiting for him to get home from his 60-hour-per-week job. He was going to take a sabbatical, but our whole family needed refreshment.

It took six weeks for the kids (ages 4 and 1) to stop clinging to him since he was home.

We’ve had temporary rentals, stayed with family, and for a large part of the time we lived in Italy. It was exactly what I wanted, a dream come true really, but staying in someone else’s home, with someone else’s stuff, trying to create meals in someone else’s kitchen is no easy task.

One time when we moved into the apartment where we stayed for a few weeks in Florence, my daughter arrived and immediately started to unpack her backpack, arranging her belongings on a shelf. She didn’t stop to greet our hosts, eat a snack, or take a nap after the eighteen-hour trip. She just wanted to make herself at home.

Over the course of the next several months, we became quite good at setting up a temporary home. We bought our own cookware. We put away knick-knacks into cupboards to make room for our personal stuff. We kept a list of packing inventory so we could leave with our stuff in tact.

When it got to be too much…No, that’s not right, I didn’t miss when he was at work all the time…When I started to miss having an organized place to put our things and having a rhythm that was just our own, when I wanted to be able to keep the house messy because I had too many other things on my plate to be able to clean it that week, it was still going to be several weeks before we could move into our own home.

I started to think about what makes our family at home. Our kids are small so they travel with us pretty easily. They were not so old to miss their friends or school. They really just needed us. How could I by my role and actions make a home for us? I’m trying to be more encouraging, to think more about meals, to serve them by staying on top of laundry, to listen better.

We just bought a house and we’re about to move into it. My husband is spending the last couple of months of his year off renovating our house to be just the way we like it, but I am more convinced than ever that it’s not the house that makes it a home.

Have you experienced temporary living? What helped to ground your family during that transition time?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the Author

Rachel Meeks

Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it’s so much easier to b...

Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it’s so much easier to be a parent when you’re not surrounded by a ton of stuff.)

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With my husband being in the army, we have moved a bit and done a lot of temporary housing from staying at my parents to living in hotel rooms. I noticed what has helped the most is keeping up with sleeping, and eating routines for small children. And changing then in 30 minute intervals every few days to adjust to time changes. We have been blessed with good travelers in our family, but when ever we move into a new home, I focus all my efforts to be completely moved in within the first 3-5 days. While keeping up routines… Read more »


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Successful Woman's Resource Center

I hope to travel around the US in an RV. I am guessing that will not be the same exactly, as we will have our own space and not have to pack and unpack belongings, per se. I do agree a house does not make a home, but being with the ones you love with a few of your comfortable belongings around you does!