It Takes A Village
We have spent at least half of our fourteen years parenting living away from family. My first year of being a Mama, I was a 10 hour drive from both Grandmas and a couple hours from my sisters, neither of which had kids. We were trying to keep our heads above water as new parents in a new town (did I mention we moved to this city with a ten-day-old?) with a new job. I had quit teaching to stay at home and I was struggling to figure out nursing and sleeping and showering.
When we found out we were expecting our second child just after the first child’s birthday, I did BEG my husband to move us back to our hometown where I could have some Grandma back-up. We spent the next three and a half years less than an hour from them both. Fast forward across the years, and we found ourselves leaving out of state ever since, learning to rely on so many people around us for help. We had to find sitters and our tribe to get through the difficult stages of parenthood.
If you are living far from your relatives and raising little ones, here are some things I’ve learned:
Get involved with other moms – Park playdates, gym groups, and library storytime were the cornerstones of my survival with preschool ones. I also loved my “Mom only” outings like book club, Girls’ Night Out, and Bible study. It’s important for the moral support and the recommendations for babysitters.
Ask for Help – In a spot where I would easily have called my Mom for help with the kids, I’ve learned to ask others. Obviously, this gets to be vital as your kids get older and need rides to practices, parties, and extracurriculars. There have been stages where I didn’t want to carpool because I needed that connect time with my kids as we transitioned to new schools or activities, but I’m so appreciative of the time and gas saved with that back and forth driving.
For years, we utilized “Grandma Camp” in the summer. Our kids spent a week with each Grandma and Grandpa for a whopping 10 days to two weeks that we were kid free! Most of the time, we took a staycation and enjoyed the freedom to work on projects or go to our favorite local restaurants.
MIDDLE SCHOOL / TEEN YEARS
Get to Know Your Neighbors – My grandmother was a watchdog. She raised my cousin in her home for most of her childhood, and she knew what was going on with those kids who were coming and going and what the gossip on the street was. As a parent, I need an extra set of eyes and ears around home base to let me know what I might miss. Even if it’s just being a safe haven option for my kids if an emergency arises.