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Our kids were born on my family farm in Southern Indiana. We chose to move back there from Oregon when I first discovered that I was pregnant. It was a good choice. I had a lot of help from my mother and my grandmother when the kids were little. They got to grow up around family, and play on the farm. They got to be around animals and nature. When they were four and four and two my husband got a job offer here in central Florida and we took it.
That was a really rough year. We moved into a three bedroom apartment to start out with, because we knew that my husband would be working a lot and there was no way that I would be able to manage any sort of home maintenance along with taking care of the three kids by myself. We hadn’t made any friends and I was usually with the kids, by myself, from sunup to sundown. I got pretty lonely. Slowly but surely, we made some of the best friends that we have ever had. It took some time though, and friends aren’t the same as family. Even though we trust them with our children, my husband and I never wanted to feel like we were taking advantage by asking our friends to watch our kids.
I can literally count on my fingers the number of times that my husband and I actually went out together and left our kids with friends before they were eight years old. Later, we made more friends with children that were close to our children’s age and we felt a little more comfortable exchanging childcare back and forth, yet it is still not a regular occurrence, we do get out from time to time. We have actually gone out for our anniversary for the past two years in a row, and to me that is a really big deal. Babysitters were really never much of an option because they are just so unaffordable for a one-income family. I simply am the babysitter. Our kids have had a paid babysitter a total of three times: once for a wedding, once for a baby shower, and once for a company party.
We lucked out because there are so many things that we love about Florida. We adore the climate and have gobs of amazing friends nearby. After we bought our home here two years ago, we discovered that we live in a fantastic neighborhood and we love it as well. I am glad that we are here, but our life has been much more challenging than it would have been back home in many ways. There have been advantages and disadvantages for our children as well. They would have learned and gained a lot being back at home on the farm, however my farm is located in a very rural and non-progressive area where people can have some pretty old-fashioned ideas. Here, they have been exposed to many more forward thinking individuals than they would have been back home.
Raising kids away from family is a challenge. It is hard to drum up the kind of support that grandparents can provide from anyone else, it’s just not the same. It is something that every family with young children needs to consider carefully. Our path ahs been amazing, though I would never say that it has been easy. At this point we love where we live so much that we are planning to lure the rest of our family down here. We will have to see how that goes. It would truly be wonderful to have them near.