When you have a family, dating isn’t the easiest thing in the world. You have an extremely busy schedule, you’re always taking care of your kids, and sometimes it can feel incredibly hard to spend time with your significant other. On top of that, introducing your new partner into the lives of your children isn’t always a walk in the park – especially if your kids are a bit older.
So how do you handle moving in together when kids are involved? Is there a way to make it a more seamless experience?
Are there specific do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re doing this? As a team of dedicated love and relationship coaches, we work with people in these situations every single day. There are so many blended families that have gone through these transitional periods, and I can confidently say that it’s not as daunting as it might seem.
It’s just going to take some organization and planning so that you can set yourself up for success and make sure that everyone in your family is happy.
The worst thing you can do is to rush this process, especially when more people than just you and your partner are involved. In today’s article, I want to give you some tips and tools that can help you ease the transition, determine the right time to do it, and seamlessly enter this new chapter of your lives.
Moving in together when kids are involved is a challenge
In today’s day and age, there are more and more blended families, but that doesn’t mean that the transition for all the people involved is any easier. When you’re thinking about when to move in together, there are so many factors to take into consideration.
This makes me think of one of my clients, Carol, with whom I began working last month. She came to me because her relationship started to suffer a great deal when she and her boyfriend moved in together.
She had two children from a previous marriage, and her boyfriend, Paul, also had a daughter from a previous marriage. They had been dating for about a year when they began discussing moving in together.
Out of respect for their children, they had made an effort to not share too much about their relationship. The kids, and especially Paul’s fifteen-year-old daughter had a very close relationship with both of their biological parents, and the idea of their parents beginning a relationship with someone new was a hard pill to swallow.
So Carol and Paul did their best to keep their relationship to themselves. So when they started talking about moving in together, you can imagine that the children were thrown for a loop.
They knew about the relationship, yes, but they didn’t feel like they knew their parents’ new partners. The thought of suddenly having to live together definitely caused tensions.
There were issues that arose with discipline, with either Carol or Paul feeling neglected or ostracized, with the kids feeling left out, people stepping on each other’s toes… and when they came to me for help they were actually on the verge of separating.
We’ve been working on laying out a new foundation in their relationship between them and their relationship with all the kids involved. It’s quite a process, which is why it’s so good that you’re doing your research now on moving in together when kids are involved.
Fortunately, there have been some major improvements for Carol and Paul, and they are no longer on the verge of breaking up, but there is still a lot of work to do to create an overall shift in their extended family dynamic.
So when it comes to moving in with someone when kids are involved, it’s going to be important to factor them in as your relationship develops.
If you blindside them with big news like the fact that you’re all going to be living under one roof together, it’s going to be very easy for them to meet you with resistance.
That said, let’s go ahead and look at how exactly to set yourselves up for success.
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.
How to Fix Communication in a Relationship once and for all!
Dating someone with kids and feeling left out when you move in
There are so many common issues related to moving in when there are kids involved like how long you should wait to introduce your girlfriend or boyfriend to your child or when exactly you should move in together, but there is another topic that often comes up and doesn’t get much attention.
What happens when you’re moving in together with kids but you wind up feeling quite left out? It happens often, especially because there’s just so much going on when you move in together. In an effort to ease the transition, a person often places extra attention on the kids involved which of course results in their partner feeling neglected.
I highly encourage you to make time for each other each week. Try to go out to dinner just the two of you so that you can connect and just be. It’s a lot to handle, I know, so give yourselves a moment to spend quality time alone together.
Keep things feeling familiar with moving in together with kids
In order for things to really feel comfortable for them, your kids are going to need to see evidence of their previous home. So if you and your children are the ones moving into your partner’s place, don’t hesitate to bring things with you like picture frames, or even furniture!
There are plenty of things like this that you can do to keep this transition from feeling too overwhelming for them. Be careful with moving in together too soon if there are kids involved. It’s a delicate process so make sure you give it time to develop naturally. As you know, we are here to help you every step of the way so whatever your specific question might be, we can offer you tailor made advice.
Tips for moving in together when you have kids
The key to success in this type of situation is to take your time and focus on establishing a sense of comfort and ease. Ideally, steer clear of surprising your kids and build an environment in which they feel that their home has not been changed too much.
Talk to each other about the roles you’re going to play in terms of discipline, and make sure that no one feels neglected.
If you would like to work with me or a member of my team on defining the perfect plan of action, all you have to do is click here. We also have special products designed to boost the attraction between you and the one you love, and overcome insecurity in a relationship once and for all. To access them, all you have to do is click the links. Join the Happily Committed Project and learn how to pave the way towards a fruitful future filled with happiness in your relationship with your romantic partner and in your relationship with your family. We are here to help you from A to Z.
I sincerely wish you all the best in life and love,
Your coach when you want to know everything about moving in together when kids are involved.
I’ve recently moved into my girlfriends home,with her 9 year old son and 20 year old daughter. I’m finding it very,very hard to fit in sometimes,as I feel the 9 year old resents me and blames me for his father moving out of the house,he visits his father every other weekend and comes back, and loses his temper at me for the slightest thin,and now I’ve started to snap back ,and he begins to cry and slam doors in the house
Hi Mark, thanks for reaching out. It can very difficult for children to adapt to a change like this, but with time and patience, things will settle down. I recommend working on maintaining patience, and your girlfriend’s son will warm up to you in time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for coaching!
I have 15 year son & 22 year daughter. My boyfriend & I want to live with each other but he always tells me how to discipline my daughter and we fight. Both kids live with their father half the week & every other weekend. We have a perfect relationship except for his ‘advice’ about my mothering. Not sure how to make him understand that he will ruin our relationship if he doesn’t stop.
Hi Jill, the simplest solution is rooted in communication. I suggest trying to explain your point in a way that helps him to put himself in your shoes. For example, tell him about how you were raised and why you choose certain ways to discipline. Seek to understand his point of view so that he feels heard, and then he will be more open to hearing your point of view as well.
HI recentlt moved in with my girl friend and am Trying to help with the discipline. Her 6 year old daughter likes to challenge both of us and tell us NO. This happened at the dinner table and her mom did nothing so I told her say it again and you will not finish dinner and will go to bed. She crossed her arms and to old me NO again. So I picked her up and took her to her room* which she screamed the whole way. Now the problem. The mother” My girlfriend” followed us and took her from her room the moment I layed her down and said she doesn’t have to go to bed and took her back to the kitchen. So now I have been disrespected by her in front of all 3 of her kids. Non of them are going to listen to me now and my girlfriend doesn’t think she did anything wrong which is causing problems between us.
Hello, I am 28 and have been out of a long relationship for sometime. I have began to date someone new who is only 23. He is divorced with a 3 and 1 year old. The divorce seemed abrupt as the baby was only 3 means old at the time of the divorce. He in the Military had to stay behind as she moved back home. She began to work, and kids went to day care with his parents watching them on most all of weekends. When we first met he was not transparent about having an ex wife or kids, and found out a short time later from friends. (red flag I know) Then I being with each-other for weekend trips I would notice his ex-wife would call and call and call his phone, not to talk about the kids, but usually to ramble and talk about herself. Often the conversations sounded hostile with one another and still frequent despite my concerns. We decided to try living together after 4 months which is extremely quick for me and moving much faster than I would like, however it was based around the idea that at the point of being together for 8 months we were looking at deciding if this relationship would be in a place where I would move back to his home town where he would then be getting his children 50/50. I had met the children once during a trip home, which went okay. And then one of those calls came through when he was at work. I guess his ex-wife had lost her job, she was calling to say how she didn’t know how she was going to be a full time parent basically now that the military wouldn’t pay for the child care. So, without consulting me first he spoke with his work and found out he could switch his schedule from 48 hours to 5 days a week to see his kid when he came home at night. I work in the medical field from home so he came home expressing minor details, but saying hey can we talk. So excited he expressed he could get and bring back his 3 year old son. And I could have the honor of being the full time 24 hour parent since I work from home. In that initial moment I did not know what to say or how to process what was being presented. I said oh okay. And then I asked well we have a very small 750 square foot place with only one bedroom how will this work, he stated the living room. The next day we were off to get his child from his current home. It has been so horrible since being back (only on week) there is never a chance for space, quiet time or even my work. I had to express the absolutely hardship this was putting on me and how it couldn’t work like this. I was happy to move out. My boyfriend has some kind of idea that I should drop in as a parent and it should all be perfect. I am at a loss and I need some advice, as I feel very disrespected, and highly overwhelmed.
I have. 2.5 year old daughter and am going through a divorce it is amicable but I have been dating my boyfriend for 5 months everything about us clicks and we have fun with my daughter as well. I want to move in but I am afraid to bring it up as it may be to sook this is obviously my first time going through this but I want to make sure I am doing the right thing and not pressuring too much!
When you are two childfree adults establishing a relationship, how you do it and what pace you choose is entirely up to you. But when one or both of you have children, that s another situation entirely. If there are children, you have to consider their feelings and wellbeing too.