Moving Cross Country WITH KIDS
Moving is difficult, but moving with children adds another layer of complication and stress. Here I share some of what made the transition from St. Louis, MO to Phoenix, AZ a smooth one for our family.
You've spent weeks, months or maybe even years trying to decide if you can pull the trigger and uproot your family. You know your family can be happy anywhere (as long as you're together) but you long for more in your surroundings. We've been there! We had a great life in Missouri. We had family, friends, sports, a home we loved, a walkable community, a small town feel close to the city, yet we felt pulled to the mountains, the weather and the deserts of Arizona. When the opportunity arose to make the move, we jumped on it. We made the choice and it all happened in a blink. Not everyone will have the same scenario as us (I really felt God pushing us to move) but once you make the decision don't look back. It's easy to get wrapped up in the sentiment and the memories, but focus on the future and not the past to keep your forward momentum going.
So how do you move with kids? That's the million dollar question. It's the one thing that holds so many back from uprooting. I had these hesitations too. So many thoughts of...
"But what about my kids"
"They won't have any friends"
"We are giving up their sports teams and how integrated they are in the community"
"What if they are behind in school"
"What if they hate it"
It's normal to feel these things and normal to stress about how things will turn out. It's true, nothing about moving is easy, but these are some of the key things that helped our family acclimate.
FIND A SCHOOL YOU LOVE
This was absolutely key for us. We found a school that was everything we'd always wanted for our kids. The school was on a waitlist for several grades but getting just one child in was better than none, with the hopes of getting the others in sooner than later. Every time I've stepped foot on the campus I felt peace. Every person I've met on campus has given me hope and comfort. Every family we've met has been interested in being part of a community, and graciously opened their circles to us. I realize not every move and location comes with the perfect school, but kids spend so much time at school it's important that a large part of your focus is in finding a place that is the best fit for your family as a whole.
2. GO TO THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
Birthday parties are a staple of the elementary and middle school years. Sometimes it gets to the point that you can't possibly fit another birthday into your schedule. That said, my advice is GO as much as you can. Make the time whenever possible. It's a great opportunity to see and get to know the children your child surrounds themself with and a great opportunity to meet other families outside of a school function.
3. ASK YOUR CHILDS TEACHER FOR HELP
Teachers get to see a side of our kids that we don't see. We know who our kids are at home, but they might be different at school. Teachers are a great resource in finding out who it is your child gravitates to and what they do together. This feedback is so helpful in assisting your child in successfully building new friendships and helps you find out which parents you need to be reaching out to for play time outside of school.
4. BE ASSERTIVE
This one is tough for me. I typically like to stay in my bubble. I prefer for others to open up first and then I reciprocate, but when you move and you're the new person, there is no time to sit back and wait. Reach outside of your comfort zone. Say hello to that other mom at pick up, strike up a conversation at the playground, accept invitations for coffee and be the one to plan the coffee date if possible. Reaching out and accepting the invitations from others is key in planting roots and forming your community.
5. ASK FOR HELP
So you've made a friend or two in your new city, those are the people you need to lean on. Who are their doctor recommendations, where do their kids play sports, what events do they attend around town, etc. It's far more challenging to go at it alone. Most people like to be needed and to help others, let them help you.
6. FIND A CHURCH HOME
The one thing that helped us a ton was finding a church as soon as we moved here. We found out where our kids classmates and families went to church and we started going there too. It's a great ice breaker for kids having a church where they see familiar faces. We've gotten to the point that our kids can't wait for church each week and another opportunity to be with their friends. It's led us to also have a place weekly to keep up with our kids friends parents.
So those are some of the things we did right away that have made the move less stressful and more fun. As far as logistics go, we were lucky and didn't have to drive to Arizona as a family. I was able to fly the kids out, ship the cars out and then spend just a day and a half driving out with the dogs, in our remaining vehicle. In a way, I think the road trip out as a family could have been fun, but honestly flying them here made things less stressful for everyone. Highly recommend!
I'm happy to answer questions and/or be a resource in moving with kids so feel free to reach out here on on Instagram @atashleysplace with questions or support as you make a change.