House hunting with teens: What to put on your “must-have” list
Working with families as a professional organizer, I’ve learned that needs are different for a family with teens. With little ones, you want a bedroom close by your own room and a big yard where they can run and play. With older kids, your shopping list becomes an interesting combination. You want and need space to be together and interact. And at the same time, your teen needs space to be alone and to grow.
Here are some different factors to consider if you’re house hunting with teens or soon-to-be teens.
Eating often becomes a 24-hour-a-day sport with teens in the house. It’s hard to keep teens filled up, and it’s not just the boys. Teen girls raid the refrigerator as well. Accompanied by several friends, they really can eat you out of house and home.
As your family ages, their consumption of food will increase. Unless you want to go to the store every other day, you need increased food storage. A second refrigerator becomes extremely useful. Not many houses will accommodate a second fridge in the kitchen, but as you house hunt, see if you can find a convenient location for an extra one. That might be in the laundry room, the garage, the basement or, as was the case with one house that I owned, the under-the-stairs closet. If a refrigerator figures centrally in your home, you can research many family-friendly styles online.
The laundry cycle never seems to be complete. The more kids grow, the bigger the clothes and the fewer items that fit in a load. Couple this with increased sports and extracurricular activities, and there are mountains of laundry to do each week.
When house hunting, keep in mind your growing laundry needs. Having a highly functioning laundry room with space to sort, fold and hang becomes very important. A laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms can really save steps and time.
Our space vs. their space
You’ll still want a place where the whole family can gather for movies and family time. But as your tweens turn to teens, you may find you both like a little separation. The gang may be over for video games or movies with plenty of giggles and yelling. You might want to read a book or binge-watch your favorite show. As everyone grows more independent with their own interests, having a second living space is a good idea. This way you can separate activities as needed, but come together for family time.
Different hours, different schedules
When you had a small baby or young child, you wanted to be able to hear them. You looked for a home with a nursery right next to your own room. Even with the child just across the hall, you’d break out the baby monitor and plug it in.
With tweens and teens, you may not want to hear them quite as much. Even if you swore to never yell “turn that music down!” it might happen. Especially on the weekends with no school the next day, energetic teens can stay up much later than their parents listening to music, watching movies and chatting endlessly on the phone. It’s all in good fun, but if your body clock is on more of a 10:00 PM bedtime schedule, you may wish you’d chosen a house with a split bedroom plan. As you house hunt, consider if having your bedroom somewhat separated from the teens might be a good idea.
No reservations needed
If you are lucky, your home will need a revolving door. Groups of teens will come in and go out, and it is a good thing: it means your children’s friends love to come to your home. The bonus is you see your own child more often, get to know their friends and form special friendships with them.
Wherever there are teens, there is bound to be food. No matter your family size, look for a home with space for extra seating at the kitchen table or around the kitchen island.
Plan a parking lot
One change families find as their kids grow into teens is a continual car shuffling. Your teen driver needs a place to park. If she chooses to park behind mom, inevitably mom is going to be the one who needs to get out of the driveway first. Or, if you are sharing a car, there will always be someone who needs to go somewhere and the car is gone. If you have a teen, you’ll most likely have multiple cars. In addition to your own child, there will be friends popping in and out, and some of them will have cars too.
As you house hunt, consider parking. Where will you put the extra cars? Check to see if there are any neighborhood restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed, or any no-parking signs posted that might become a problem down the road.
Even though your teens are just a few years from heading out the door and living on their own at college or an apartment, you still want a new house to feel like a home to them. Ask them if there are any particulars that are high on their interest list. Keep in mind that house hunting is a great time for a discussion on finances, budgeting and even future plans.
This guest post was written by professional organizational expert Lea Schneider. Lea provides families with advice on how good planning in the home can help boost the enjoyment level for everyone. Lea writes tips on homes and family life for The Home Depot.