The last thing I wanted to do at 38 weeks pregnant was sell our home, pack our things, and move our entire family – brand spankin’ new baby included – halfway across the country away from every thing and every one we knew. Our life was comfortable. We lived 15 minutes from the husband’s job, Miss H was in a preschool she loved, and I was busy planning my home daycare. Our family members lived within an hour’s drive. We got together with friends almost weekly. Three new babies we loved had come earthside just a couple months prior. And we were excitedly awaiting the arrival of our son. We were comfortable. But all that was about to change.
One day as we were cooking dinner after work, Chris asked me how I felt about Seattle. Well, I had never been there. I recalled a time years ago when we were unsure of where life would take us and explored various options. I somehow stumbled upon Tacoma, Washington and I had fallen in love with the idea of living near both water and mountain. But we ended up in Western Nebraska at that time, and so I resolved to the fact that the Midwest is where we would be for the rest of our lives. Still, his question had me pondering what opportunities could be found in such a large city and so far from home.
We discussed that he had an interview with a company in Seattle but decided not to get our hopes up because it was merely an interview. Things quickly progressed, however, and before we knew it, we were days away from meeting our baby boy, and we had just sold our home.
Chris had to begin his new job when Baby E was just a week old. This left me home alone with a four year old and a newborn, quickly trying to pack our home so we could begin our new adventure. Add the fact that we had been T-boned by a drunk driver on the way to drop Chris off at the airport, and well, the word stressful doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Finally when Baby E was three weeks old, we packed our van, loaded the dog and the kids, and said goodbye to loved ones.
To move 1,665 miles from Point A to Point B with an 80 lb dog, a highly energetic preschooler, and a brand new baby is no easy feat. I would not say we are experts on the matter, but the steps we took to make the move more comfortable, I believe, helped us find success. Here are a few things we did to make the move halfway across the country with two young children.
1. Make Yourself As Comfortable As You Can with Your New Area
We took a huge risk by finding an apartment online and renting it without seeing it. This is not something I would generally recommend, but because I could not travel to see it myself, we felt this was our best option. We often showed Miss H pictures from the website of her new place, including the photos of the playground, to make things a little more realistic for her. We also Google Street Viewed the area frequently so we could become familiar with the areas we would frequent. Finally, we read TONS of reviews about the apartment complex itself so that we felt confident about the place we would call our new home.
2. Talk Everything Out With Your Kids
Along with showing Miss H pictures of her new home, we would talk about different aspects of the move. We talked about how long it would take us to get there, about how she would start swim lessons at a new place, about how she wouldn’t see loved ones as frequently. Anytime a new fear or concern came up, we addressed it right then. We never dismissed her feelings.
Now that we’ve been here for nearly a year, she still has moments of extreme sadness in missing her old home and friends and family. We make sure to tell her that her feelings are very normal and that we feel the same way sometimes. Letting her know that what she feels is normal, I think, helps her work through those feelings and allows her to be more open with us.
3. Plan Ahead
We took what would normally be a two day drive, and turned it into three full days. Chris had mapped out exactly where we would stop at night, and figured that with the new baby, we would need to stop every two to three hours to feed. We planned out when we would eat, when we’d need gas, etc. By planning everything out in advance, with room for random things out of our control, it helped to eliminate any added stress or confusion along the way.
4. Take Your Time
Like mentioned above, we took a two day drive and turned it into three. This gave everyone time to get out and stretch their legs, including the dog. It also provided us with time to take Miss H swimming in the evenings which made the whole trip more fun for her. I think if we had rushed, it would have left way more room for things to go wrong. We made considerable distance each day, with enough time in the evenings to relax and try to unwind. We made it to our final destination in the late afternoon, which gave us time to do a whole lot of nothing before Chris had to go back to work the next day.
5. Pack Lots of Snacks and Activities
We had a couple of large reusable grocery bags filled with snacks and drinks for everyone. Miss H had a backpack full of games, books, coloring pages, and toys to keep her occupied. We also had her tablet ready to go with some of her favorite shows. By having our snacks and beverages with us, we were able to limit the number of times we needed to stop and also save money along the way. This came in handy as we traveled across the barren states like the Dakotas and Montana where gas stations were fewer and farther between.
Taking on such a big move has been anything but easy. Moving with Baby E was easy because he slept nearly the whole trip. It would be so much more difficult with him now that he is awake more often. Miss H still struggles with the move and I’m not sure she will ever fully adjust. Some kids are resilient and bounce into new routines easily, and others just need more time. Know your kids and know their needs. Consider counseling if your child is having a harder time adjusting. Make sure to give them time to sort through everything and give them room for their big feelings.