Shop the fall collection ➔

It doesn’t matter how outgoing or funny or charismatic your kids might be, the possibility of uprooting their little lives and relocating to a new city is terrifying for any parent. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and it’s an idea that feels almost insurmountable. 

But when my husband got a job offer we couldn’t refuse, we packed up the car and drove our two kids (eight and four) west from Pennsylvania to the great state of Arizona. The decision weighed heavily on me, and I wasn’t prepared for the avalanche of mom guilt that followed. But as I’ve learned, kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. 

Eighteen months after our move to Phoenix, I’m so grateful for our decision. My kids are not only adjusted, they’re happy. I sometimes wish I didn’t spend so much time worrying about how things would work out.

RELATED: People Move, But Memories Remain

To other parents going through this: You are not alone. Every family is different, but these three strategies helped my family navigate the transitionand gave me some peace of mind. 

Offer constant reassurance.

My oldest is confident, outgoing, and full of life. But when we told him about the move, I could see right away that there were a number of new emotions going through his mind—sadness, anger, grief. Instead of downplaying these emotions, we slowed the conversation down. We took the time to acknowledge how he was feeling and validated his concerns. We tried to help him understand what to expect by looking at photos of our new city, reading books about moving, and letting him participate in the home-buying process. 

We continued to provide reassurance after the move, too. With both our kids, we made an effort to schedule one-on-one time with my husband and me, to make sure they continued to feel loved and nurtured throughout the transition. 

Create opportunities for familiarity.

During big changes, kids find comfort in the familiar. For us, this meant finding ways, both big and small, to bring pieces of Philadelphia to Phoenix. We always shop at Target and Whole Foods, so I made sure both were in close proximity to our new home. We moved right before the holidays, so we stuck to our typical holiday traditions—watching our favorite movies, playing our favorite games, and baking our favorite desserts. All of our friends and family were back on the East Coast, so we found ways to keep the kids connected and help them socialize. 

RELATED: Home is Where You Make it—Even Without Family Nearby

Going into this experience, I was so afraid of my kids feeling lonely. I didn’t know how they would adapt or how quickly they’d be able to make new friends. But Messenger Kids has been a game-changer for us, creating continuity between our old life and this new one. Every Sunday, my son uses Messenger Kids to video chat with his best friend, and it’s like they’re together in person, laughing and playing games. I’m able to keep an eye on their conversations through the parent dashboard, and it’s like they haven’t missed a beat. 

Make it an adventure!  

On the 2,000+ mile drive to our new home, many of my parenting rules went out the window. We stopped for McDonald’s (more than once), and the kids blew through their typical screen time limits. It was a long trip, and my husband and I wanted to amp up the excitement. We kept it going when we arrived, too. That first night, we pitched a tent in the living room and slept together as a family

No matter how you look at it, moving is a chaotic process. You have to be patient with your children, and yourself. Slow down when you need to. Really listen to your kids. But sometimes the hardest decisions have the best outcomes, and this is one I’m so glad we made. 

Dalesha Smallwood

Dalesha Smallwood is a wife and mom of two, currently residing in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys baking, singing, and staying active with her two kids. Dalesha is an advocate for children and families, working as a Child Mental Health Therapist for a nonprofit organization.

Your Kids Will Remember How You Made Them Feel—The Rest is Just Details

In: Grief, Grown Children, Motherhood
Mother touching child's forehead

I stared at the empty notebook page where I was to summarize my mother’s life. Thirty-nine years of her being mine all tied together in a four-minute speech.  Her funeral was the next day. I just had to start with one word. Bracing myself for the heavy emotions and Kleenex by my side, I placed my pen down on the paper.  To my surprise, the words poured out of me effortlessly. My pen danced its way down the paper as I wrote about how much she meant to me. RELATED: Only a Motherless Daughter Knows How she would chase us down in the driveway...

Keep Reading

Part of Me Will Always Miss Our First House

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kids lying on floor, color photo

All the boxes had been packed. All the cleaning had been done. All the paperwork had been signed. We were finally moving.  After years of saving and sacrificing to make it happen, that new house we’d dreamed of for our family of five was finally ours.  As we spent the last moments in the house before turning it over to the realtor to stage, I saw my kids plopped down on the bare floor together. Shoes off, using their jackets like pillows. Just lying there. They were still so comfortable in this space even though it was stripped down to...

Keep Reading

Love Grows Best in Little Houses Like Ours

In: Living, Motherhood
Family seen through window

Have you ever heard the saying, “Love grows best in little houses”? I’ve seen it and heard it more than ever lately. It is almost like the saying has been following me and acting as a reminder. You see, I’ve lived in my current home for seven and a half years. My husband and I purchased it when we were engaged and just out of college. I remember feeling proud—proud that at only 22 years old, I bought a house. I remember feeling excited—excited for the memories my husband, our dog, and I would make. RELATED: My House Will Never...

Keep Reading