Parents without a permanent place to stay face a number of challenges in giving their children a consistent sense of home for many reasons:

  • Children may lack clean, safe play spaces—preventing them from growing and thriving.
  • Depending on where they are, normal childlike behavior may be considered disruptive by others (it’s common to be shushed).
  • Families may experience a lack of privacy.
  • Children don’t see familiar things, hear familiar sounds, smell familiar smells, and so on.
  • Parents are unable to prepare favorite family meals.
  • It can be hard to establish a sense of structure, routines, and predictability when families move frequently.

But home is much more than a physical space—it’s a feeling of love, security, and connectedness. This feeling of home can move with you wherever families go together. Even things that seem simple, such as having the same pillowcase to sleep on each night, or hanging the same air freshener in the room, can make a big difference.

You can suggest to parents that they use these strategies to foster a sense of home anywhere. Routines can be a stabilizing constant that children can count on and look forward to, and parents can integrate them into many different moments throughout the day. Encourage them to do some of these strategies:

In the morning:

  • Try doing the same stretching and breathing exercises together every morning. Stretch tall, touch your toes, then take three deep breaths.
  • Add a daily “mantra” such as “I am loved,” “I am strong,” “I believe in myself,” or “This will change” to set the tone for the day.

At bedtime:

  • Try cuddling and singing the same lullaby together each night.
  • Belly-breathe! Put your hands on your bellies and take three deep breaths in and out, feeling your bellies rise and fall.
  • Hold your child’s hands as she falls asleep.
  • Observe the shape of the moon or count the stars before bed.