So, that doll house in the photo, the amazing one that towers over the entranced child who can’t believe her good fortune?? One like that was in the house when one of my clients and her children went to look at the place that soon became their new home. Now, you know that doll house wasn’t going to be there when they moved in, and I know that the doll house wasn’t going to be there, and my client knew the doll house wouldn’t be there, but my client’s kids…nope. They were fully expecting it to be the centerpiece of their new playroom when they arrived at their new home. As far as they were concerned, the doll house was (frankly) the best part about the house. Oh, no!
Many tears and tissues later, the kids had learned the difference between real estate and personal possessions. But it was many tears and many tissues.
This family’s experience serves as a great reminder to other parents. Young children have absolutely no frame of reference for the minutiae of real estate contracts and customs. And they may wonder why their parents could have agreed to a scenario that includes the refrigerator and the recycling bin…but not the doll house????
Sometimes young kids imagine that getting a new house is kind of like going to a hotel, and think they’ll be expected to use the comforters and bath towels that they see when they visit. Or, as more than one child has asserted during a showing, he has no intention of sleeping on the too-high top of those bunk beds. Now you know the bunk beds won’t be there when you move in, and I know that. But your child probably does not understand that at all.
Once we stop to think about it, a young child would really have NO WAY to anticipate that what is in the house you are buying is not a permanent part of the house. Whether this will be good news or bad news may depend on how cool the doll house looks, or how overly high the top bunk appears from the eyes of a timid pre-schooler. But either way, it is news you’ll want to help your child understand.
If your kids are coming on showings with you, it might be useful to talk with them in advance about how house shopping works. And while visiting a home take a few minutes to play the giggle-filled game called “Will this be here when we move in?” Point to the front door, and ask the question. Point to the jar of peanut butter on the counter (“No, thank goodness, we don’t even like crunchy peanut butter!”). Point to the dishwasher. Point to the jackets in the hall closet (“Nope, those jackets are definitely not your size!”). Point to the stinky diaper pail in the baby’s room (“No way! We don’t have a stinky little baby with stinky little diapers!”). There will be giggling; it is almost guaranteed. And your child will probably begin to catch on.
This is a discussion you will want to continue and revisit as the big move draws closer. You can also play the reverse game in your old home (“Will this be coming with us?”). The kids will be relieved to know that all their favorite toys, books, blankets and cereal bowls are making the move with your family. Even if it’s still kind of disappointing that the gigantic doll house won’t be there to greet them on moving day….