My family has moved several times, a few times locally within our original 30-mile radius in Northern New York, and once to Ohio. Before the move to Ohio, I was extremely stressed about the impact the move would have on my children and I couldn’t find much in the way of evidence one way or the other as to what the effects would be, especially real life accounts of having done it. We had a happy family and I wanted to keep it that way. The kids were all still rather young, all but one being school-age, so the idea of having them all leaving their friends and family and transitioning to a new everything was scary. I knew we could handle it and make it through, and that many families move across the country or across the world and fare just fine, but the fear was still there. At the time, we were looking to secure a better financial situation, which required a higher salary for my husband, and since he’s in a narrow field, seemed to require moving. Nothing was available locally at that time. I was excited about the idea of moving, since I loved new adventures. I really didn’t have much hesitation personally, only feared how it would affect the kids. I thought we would be close enough to see our families and make regular visits, which minimized any sadness about leaving. I had also researched the area we were moving to and saw that it offered just about everything a person could want; every store, restaurant, activity, and so on.
When I look back at our actual move, I feel bad, since I wasn’t nearly as emotional about leaving as some would have thought. I was excited. I was sad to be leaving my family, but it didn’t really hit me until a little later, so don’t think I even shed one tear. But now, when I think back to that day and how hard it must have been for my kids, it breaks my heart. They had friends, our family, and a good life in our then hometown. But, we did leave and set out on the road for our new life in Ohio. We ended up renting a home for about a year, since we were still paying our mortgage for the home we left in NY. I remember the first night there, my youngest son cried and said he wanted to go back to the white house…our NY home (which was white). Poor little guy. He was two then. The other four kids seemed okay that night. We all slept on the floor of our master bedroom, since our furniture had not yet arrived. The only thing I remember specifically about the next day is that one of our cats had gone missing, likely wandered off and couldn’t find her way back in the unfamiliar territory. That wasn’t the best start to our new adventure, but it did get better.
We arrived on August 15th, and a day or two later the moving trucks showed up with all of our belongings and we officially moved in. The kids started school shorty thereafter and things went relatively well. We didn’t have any major breakdowns or battles, but we did have tears here and there from the kids, and even I began to feel a loss about a month or two in. The first month or so was great for me. I loved our new hometown in Ohio. We all did. We loved exploring our new stomping ground and I quickly learned my way around. There was so much to do, our neighborhood was gorgeous, and the newness was exciting. The kids were acclimating to school, my husband loved his new job, and I was busy getting the house styled and making it feel like home. Things were good. But, like I said, I began to feel a loss, I missed my family, my connections, and with no one around to assist here and there, having to handle the move, new schools, real estate issues, and more, the workload of this new place seemed to be much heavier than that of NY, not to mention that I carried a lot of guilt around day in and day out for making my kids go through this transition.
This story could be so very long, since we lived in Ohio for six years, had many great experiences, likely enough for a book, but I’m really trying to speak to the experience of moving with kids, so I’ll stick to a rather quick overview. I’ve touched on the initial aspects of our move, but want to hit on the middle, the meat, the eventual “normal” we achieved while in Ohio, since if you’re contemplating moving, that’s what you need to know. How will it work? Will we survive with our mental health? Will my kids hate me forever? Well, in my experience, things will be just fine, but it will take several months or more to really settle in and to allow the kids to heal from being pulled from their old connections. As a parent, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel completely okay with having pulled them away, or ever not wonder what it would have been like had we stayed put their entire childhood, but I realize that good came from our move, lots of good, so all I can do is know that we all grew from the experience. My husband got experience he may not have had the opportunity to get in NY, and the kids and I also had experiences that left positive marks on us. So, all in all, I count the move a positive, but realize that it wasn’t as much of a necessity as I thought at the time, and that we could have made it work in NY. Sometimes, financial gain isn’t enough to make drastic changes, and isn’t even as much of a gain as it seems. In our experience, it wasn’t. We made more money, but things also cost more, there was more to spend money on, and we also had no family or friends to lend a hand when we needed it.
It probably sounds like I’m not really in favor of moving with kids, and to be completely honest, knowing what I know now, having lived it, I think I would make a different decision. I wouldn’t change our life, and what we’ve done, not at this point, since it’s made us all who we are, but if I were making the decision now, I probably would not make the same choice. What’s funny is that a large part of that realization came from actually doing it, so as confusing as that is, the move made me realize that it wasn’t what we needed, despite how great it was at times. I honestly loved it in Ohio, still love that area of Ohio, but ultimately decided to move back to NY in 2018. I simply thought it was healthier to be near family. So yes, I tore the kids away from their comfort zone once, then did it again. I could cry writing about it. But, I always made decisions with everyone’s well-being at the center. I truly thought it was better for all of us to be back near our family. I knew it was better for me. I remember thinking that if we stayed in Ohio, our kids would all eventually move away and we would then be far from them and also far from our other family members. We had some friends and great neighbors in Ohio, but could anything really compete with family? In my mind, the answer was no. There’s something wonderful about knowing I can see any one of my family members, barring those that live away, any day I want to. It’s comforting.
I jumped ahead a little, so want to go into a little more detail about our time in Ohio. After all, we lived there for six years. A lot happened. The kids all had great friends, were very active in school activities, and life was buzzing. I have so many great memories from that time, like cross country and gymnastic meets, holiday parties with neighbors, and outdoor fun. Life was good in Ohio. The only thing missing was our families. We tossed around the idea of moving back to NY several times, the discussions always prompted by me. A couple times per year we would discuss it, usually resulting in us realizing that what we gained in Ohio was too much to give up and move. The kids were too involved and connected to move. Nonetheless, the thought wouldn’t leave me. The thought of how awful it was of me to move for a mere salary increase that really wasn’t even that drastic. I mean, was life really all about money? Did I choose money over family? Really, I did. But, I also chose it for my kids, feeling like it was the only way to make it with the size family we had.
Ultimately, after many hours of discussion, we did decided to return to NY. It was probably the most difficult decision I have ever made, but we did it. We decided to settle in the town 20 minutes away from where we initially moved, since we had family members there and the town had more to offer. The kids took the announcement better than expected, knowing we had thrown the idea around many times, but they still struggled. The worst day of the whole move was the day the friends of our twins said goodbye. They had stayed the night and the next morning, sobbing and embracing, said their goodbyes. I was crying, they were crying, and I had a deep sorrowful feeling. Again, it was a feeling of worry about whether what we were doing was right. At that moment, it didn’t feel right. It just felt sad.
It was just after Christmas, and we set out for NY right around New Years day. The trip was awful, with my son, who was following me in his car, going off the road in a whiteout at one point, then driving about 30 mph the rest of the trip. When we finally arrived at my mother’s house, we were exhausted by not only the length of the trip, but also the stress of it. For the first week, I debated going back. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be in NY. I mean, when I left there was a part of me that left because I really didn’t like the area. It didn’t help that it was January, quite literally the coldest grayest month of the year. So I cried and fussed about it, talked to my kids about it, but we ended up staying. The kids started school shortly after arriving, my husband arrived a few weeks later, and we started house hunting.
During our search, we stayed with my mom and stepdad for a short time, then rented a cute little house for about four months. It wasn’t long and we were able to move into our permanent home on a quiet dead-end street in town. It was July. Our new home was a fixer-upper, which I think was a good distraction and a chance to make it really feel like ours. During the first six months of living in NY, the kids made some friends, started becoming active in sports and other activities, and we saw family regularly. It took a while for the kids to form close friendships, but they eventually did, and they also came to love our new hometown. For the sake of comparison, our new hometown was very small, whereas our Ohio town was large and bustling, being a suburb of Akron. Our new hometown is much more rural, with lots of character, four colleges within 20 minutes, and outdoor spaces for miles. Some may consider it boring or outdated, and maybe I would have at one time too, but I’ve come to a new appreciation for this place we call home. Once here, I decided I would choose to love this place and I would only speak highly of it. Oh sure, just like any town, there are negative aspects, but all in all, this town is a quintessential small town. I love it! I love that we’re close to the mountains, able to take a short trip for an amazing hike, a relaxing kayak, or a walk through the other lovely small towns around. There’s something to be said for small towns, the slower pace, and relaxed way of life. It’s what my heart was longing for, along with the ability to see all the people that matter to me, and to make memories with them whenever I want. I now can walk to my mother’s house, can walk all over this small town easily and safely, and see familiar faces everywhere I go. If I crave more shopping, I only have to drive 90 minutes to make it happen. I’ve found that if I look for the good in this place, it’s all over. I didn’t have to go far away to get what I needed. I wouldn’t change what we’ve done, since as I said before, it’s made us who we are, but I would encourage someone else grappling with a similar decision to think harder about it and to see if changing their outlook could actually remedy the situation they’re in. Moving with kids is doable, and can work, but it does have it’s drawbacks. If you have to do it, you have to do it. I get it. I felt we had to at the time. Military families have to do it all the time, and that’s a sacrifice they have to make, and many kids from those families learn to love it and choose to do the same. But, in my honest opinion, after having done it, rather successfully at that, I would recommend only doing so if you truly have to. It’s brutal and I can’t see how there isn’t some kind of damage that occurs at some level. Yes, your kids learn resilience and gain a certain kind of strength, but they also suffer unnecessary loss at a very young age. They lose years of memories with grandparents and cousins. They lose the stability of staying in the same house, the same school, and the same community. Personally, as the parent, I gained a sense of guilt in causing these losses. That said, I also at times felt I allowed them lessons and experiences they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Maybe it seems like the good equals the bad, but I don’t think it does. Again, this is my opinion based off of my experience. Had I changed my mindset years ago, I could have saved the losses and found ways to make the rest happen here. I don’t count it as a failure, but a lesson. It’s a lesson on what’s really important. To me, that’s family and relationships. Not everyone has that same perspective or even has a choice in this matter, so I know this is irrelevant for those people. I also know that you can still remain close to family while living away. Some people do this very well. For me, it’s not enough. I want to to be near them and I want to interact with my family regularly and in person if possible. To each their own.
Maybe you’ve never moved away, but always longed to. Maybe you plan to some day. Or, maybe you love where you live and would never leave. One of the great things about life is having the choice to make these decisions, and the answer is different for everyone. If you’re contemplating moving and especially if you have kids in tow, I encourage you to allow my words to penetrate your thoughts, even if only to allow you more confidence in the idea that it can work. It can. But, if you’re faced with the choice, currently enjoy time with your family, have lots of connections, and are relatively happy, I urge you to ruminate on the idea of staying put. Not that you will, but just think about it. What you get from moving might not be as valuable as what you lose or as valuable as it seems right now. On the flipside, it could be great, it could be worth it, and it could be the right thing for you. It’s such a challenge to know for sure, and you really may never know, but weigh your options honestly and carefully.
At this point, we’ve been back in NY for two and a half years and things are very good, barring this pandemic we’re dealing with. It kind of feels like we’ve always been here. I don’t have regrets about moving back and I don’t dwell on the decisions of the past, only appreciate the good that came from those decisions, because a lot of good came from our time in Ohio. Three of the kids are young adults, making their way in the world, so far all locally. One has the itch to travel, so we will support her in that, but she plans to return when she gets what she needs from that experience. The two youngest are thriving and have great friend groups. My youngest has a close buddy two houses down, and my 16-year old has friends scattered all over within a two-mile radius. My husband and I have started taking day trips to the mountains or for shopping and make it a point to speak well of our new hometown. In my opinion, that’s the ticket, that’s the solution to not being thankful or satisfied with where we are or with what we have. If we’re not willing to see or willing to look for the good, it often evades us. Not until we decide to be content, to look for the good, and to love what we have or where we are, will we be fully satisfied or fully realize its value. This can be applied to so many things, like relationships, hometowns, jobs, etc.. You know the saying, “The grass is green where you water it.” Truth! We can choose to be content and happy and to stop looking for happiness elsewhere. In my experience, a change in mindset is a magical thing. That’s not to say that chasing dreams or following your heart is bad, but keeping it real, knowing what really makes you happy is important. More money and more things probably won’t do it, but relationships and real moments with the ones you care about just might. Water the grass…♥