Moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you have kids
As I was saying above, there’s a lot to factor in when kids are involved. Moving in together is a pretty big deal, so it’s going to be in your best interest to take your time with the process.
Which brings me to my first point. You want to give the kids the opportunity to get used to the idea of moving in together, so plan to move in together over the course of a long time. The more spontaneous it feels, the more of a shock it will be for them.
We encourage giving them the time to acclimate to the idea, and there are a couple of ways you can do this.
Successfully blending families moving in together
As we saw with Carol and Paul, it’s ideal to let your kids gradually see your relationship, be aware of your partnership, and feel that it isn’t something that you’re hiding. If you can incrementally let your partner be more present in the lives of your children, it will be easier for the new relationship to feel natural for them.
Let’s say that the goal is to have your significant other move into your house. You can start by just allowing him or her to sleep over and then go home. With time you can slowly transition to asking them to bring a change of clothes in addition to a toothbrush that they can leave at your house.
By the time the actual moving day comes, the children will have already grown accustomed to spending a lot of time with your partner and the fact that his or her things are already in the house. It will feel more like “any other day.”
Whereas if they don’t witness anything or really feel your significant other’s presence until the day that they’re suddenly living with you, things will feel uncomfortable and foreign. We want to slowly build a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Moving in together checklist: The discipline topic
This is huge. So many couples that I work with come to us for help because the issue of discipline has created a significant amount of tension in their relationship with their partner.
When you move in together and there are children involved, it’s going to be crucial that you have a serious conversation about the role your partner will be playing in the discipline of your children.
I will say that once a child has passed the age of four or five years old, the “step” parent will have a more challenging time trying to establish a role as a disciplinarian, simply because the bond has not been established. That said, it’s not going to be impossible. You and your partner just need to talk about this and operate as a team where you are both on the same page in terms of how you’re going to approach the situation.
Either you accept that the biological parent will be the primary disciplinarian of their children until a deeper relationship is formed with the new partner, or you will discuss how to establish and uphold rules in your household. Each situation is unique and it’s up to both of you to establish how it’s going to be.
Similarly, make sure that you have a conversation with everyone about who will do what in your household. The children might not be used to someone new taking responsibility for giving them chores or household tasks, so make sure you talk about this in order to avoid creating resentment in them towards your new partner.