Moving with Kids, or How I Remembered to be Joyful


I’ve moved around a LOT in my life; back and forth between coasts, in between, and abroad. Until recently, I never stayed in one place for more than a year or two.

suitcase, woman's legs

The last time I was looking for a new home, I was married and my kids were 1 and 3 years old. We decided to move from rural living to suburbia to relieve long commute times with kids in the car (you can only sing “Old MacDonald had a farm” so many times…)

That was 10 years ago. Much has changed since then.

It’s just me and the kids in the house now, though their dad lives an hour away, so he often spends time with them here when they’re not at his place for the weekend. My house is still our family home.

And yet, it’s become clear that it’s time to move. The property is too much for me to keep up on my own. There are other reasons, too… it’s just time.

packing moving boxes

Moving is different as a single parent with 11- and 13-year-old boys.

There are schools and friends to be taken into consideration. There’s what I want, and there’s what they want, too. When I first told them about the plan to sell the house and move they were (not surprisingly) upset, and pretty vocal about it. 

I’d like my kids to feel part of the process; I want moving to be something I do with them, not to them. Ultimately, I am the parent and will make the final decision. But I’ve already seen the benefit of involving my sons.

Recently, I went to look at a place that had some amazing qualities (on the lake… my ideal spot) but had drawbacks as well. I told them about it, let them know that I loved the location but wouldn’t choose it unless we were all on board. Together, we decided against it. Since then, they’ve been much more engaged and excited about the prospect of where we might go next, and are willing to see our move as an adventure rather than a dictate. They trust that I have everyone’s interests at heart.

This moving process began by accident.

An unexpected conversation led to my making an offer on a new home before mine was even on the market. But the real estate climate is fierce, and I lost out to another buyer who didn’t have a house to sell. I was crushed, though at the time I wasn’t sure why.

I didn’t realize just what this move represents for my family.

Over the years, even as I struggled to find my bearings as a single parent, I made it my central purpose to provide a stable home for my kids as best I could. I’ll admit that I lost my spark of spontaneity and joy along the way. This loss has profoundly impacted not only my own life experience but my children’s as well.

I once went halfway across the world with only a backpack and no plan for where I’d go once I stepped off the plane.

I once visited a friend in another state, returned home, packed everything I owned into my VW van and moved to that new city within a week.

I once adopted a dog in another country and took her with me everywhere, so that by the end of her life she had flown in an airplane 16 times.

It is high time to rekindle my spark of joy, fearlessness, and adventure, and share it with my children.

2 boys with silly faces

There is change happening. And this move is perfectly timed not only to re-imagine where we might live but also to empower each of us to express ourselves in the process and to create new ways of relating to each other. It’s time to reinvent our family.

As challenging as it is to be in limbo, not knowing where we’re going to land, I’m beginning to see how important it is as part of the process. This not-knowing is a kind of freefall, inviting me to choose how I respond: anxiety or excitement? Grasp for control or trust the process?

Whatever I decide, my children are watching. And more than anything, I want their lives to be joyful. So, I’m trying to do my very best to make this process of relocating fun. Not give in to anxiety. Not fret when it doesn’t go as I had imagined or hoped.

So, I’ll go see every home possible until we find our right next place. I’ll ask them for their opinions. And when our next home arrives, we’ll be ready to go on that new adventure together.

Have you moved with kids? What have you learned from the process?

moving with kids


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