I always knew I wanted to live in the south, particularly North Carolina. I grew up going to North Carolina beaches, so this place has always felt like home to me. But what I didn’t think about was raising kids away from family.
We are originally from Maryland, about five hours away from close relatives. Brendan is part of a more tight knit family than me, so I think the idea of moving away from them was harder for him. But after having our first daughter, I soon realized living far from family definitely has its downsides.
However, I have to say, there are some benefits to raising kids away from family too. I’m going to share everything I have learned the last two years living far from family, including the pros, cons and tips for those of you in similar situations!
You appreciate them more
Distance really does make the heart grow fonder. And this applies to family members too. It brings us more excitement when we get to see our family since it isn’t that often.
We get excited to tell them about our lives, show them how much Hadleigh has grown, and to just embrace being in their company. If we lived at home and were used to seeing them all the time, those moments together might not be as cherished.
Limited parenting advice
Lets be honest, every single family has those couple of people who like to give their two cents when it comes to your parenting style. It’s nice to not have to constantly be subjected to other’s opinions of how we raise Hadleigh. They aren’t here to witness it so, it leaves little room for the side comments 😉
Planning fun trips + get-togethers
If you follow along on the blog or social media, then you know we recently got back from a fun trip to Blowing Rock, NC. We have another family trip coming up next month for the Outer Banks.
The main reason we go on these trips is to meet halfway with family. By doing so, we are able to see new places and create fun memories together, which we might not have done if we lived closer to family.
Less family drama
Another thing all families have…drama. A benefit of not living close to relatives is the ability to stay away from the inevitable drama that ensues. We can hear briefly about it from a distance, but we aren’t subjected to being around it. This is personally one of my favorite reasons for living a little farther away!
Holidays are stressful or lonely
The last couple of years we have made the trip to Maryland for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first year when we lived in Knoxville, it took us 8 hours to drive to Maryland (and I was pregnant). It might only take us 5 hours now that we are in North Carolina, but we also have a toddler…
So, not only do we have the regular stress of the holiday season, but it is multiplied by the traveling back and forth. Not fun, and surely didn’t have us in the holiday spirit. This year we vowed to only travel up north for one holiday.
While this is less stressful for us, the holiday we choose to stay home for might be a little more lonely. My husband and I both love the holiday season, so not sharing the joy with family will be tough. But on the flip side, we will be able to start creating our own family traditions at home.
Less help with the kids
One of the biggest downfalls of raising kids away from family is not having their help. Being a weekday stay-at-home mom and working on the weekends can leave me feeling drained at times. I can’t just drop Hadleigh off at my parent’s while I go to the gym or run errands. I have to pay for childcare or bring her along with me.
Harder to establish bonds between kids and family
The less often your kids are able to spend time with family, the less they get to know them. This can make it hard to establish close relationships with other family members.
It’s important to still include your family in your lives and make it known to your children that they exist!
Feeling out of the loop
While I am all about being away from the drama, it can be sad when you miss out on certain family functions. You are left watching from afar and looking at pictures of all the fun your family had without you. It can suck sometimes!
It’s hard to be a parent in general, but to keep up with everyone’s lives from a distance at the same time…it’s almost impossible. Hopefully your family understands you can’t do it all, and when you do talk it’s like hardly any time has passed by.
Video chat often
We try and video chat with family members almost daily. My daughter knows exactly who her grandpa is every time she sees him person because of our video chats. It’s a great alternative for talking on the phone so your kids can participate and see who they’re chatting with.
I touched on this earlier, but planning fun trips and get-togethers is very important to us. We try to plan a few trips throughout the year and ahead of time with different family members and/or friends. It gives everyone something to look forward to!
Plan/alternate holidays ahead of time
Another stressful part about traveling up north for the holidays is deciding who to eat dinner with, dessert with, who we are staying with…it can be a cluster.
To take the stress off, plan out AHEAD of time all of the details and communicate them with every family member. That way there is no confusion, no hurt feelings and everyone is happy.
We try to alternate holiday dinners between different family members each year to make it fair.
Treasure your time together
Last, and most importantly, treasure the time you get to spend with your family when you see them. Raising kids away from family is hard on you AND your relatives. They are sad they don’t get to see you and your children all of the time…so be sensitive to their feelings, and cherish those moments you get with each other.
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I love this article it’s really well written! Definitely agree that family vacations do get more lonely but hey at least you don’t constantly have people criticizing your parenting! I also love how you included tips at the end, that’s super useful!! 🙂
Thank you so much! Yes the lack of criticism is nice for sure! Glad it was useful!