{Just Us} Parenting Away from Extended Family

When my husband and I left our hometown about 5 years ago to move to the Red Stick, we gleefully waved goodbye, looked at each other with naive excitement in our eyes, and boldly said “We will never live in that city again. Thank God.” We were without kids at that point, and ready to face the world alone.

The whole situation was totally awesome- until about a year later when we had our kiddo- and now I totally understand why people never move away from their hometown.

If you have family that lives close enough to help out with carpool or when your kid is sick or give you a date night every now and then- please, do not take this for granted. Four years into parenthood I’m at a point where I would almost literally give my left arm to have some help in my own backyard. When the kiddo is sick, it’s just us. When school lets out early or is on a holiday break or closes for an “administrative day,” it’s just us. When our kiddo has an event or a ceremony he’s in, it’s just us there to cheer him on. In the moments that we celebrate a birthday or accomplishment, it’s still just us.

One Thanksgiving when all hell was breaking loose and we couldn’t make it home at the very last minute, it was just us. That year we had stuffing from a box—it was tragic. Apart from the awesome visits we have with family every now and then on a weekend, it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just us.

I don’t say all this to sound whiny because this is the life we chose for ourselves and most days we are pretty good at doing “just us,” but I hope that if you have extra hands around that want to help you and want to love on your kiddo, that you are able to recognize all the small ways it makes your life a little easier and enriches your child’s life.

Mandy-Red-Stick-Mom-19
Photo Credit: Quaint and Whim

Yes, family can be annoying. Maybe they constantly give you unsolicited parenting advice, maybe they feed your kid 12 cookies for a “snack,” maybe they have an obnoxious habit that you just can’t even deal with. Despite all of this- if they love your kiddo well and they are able to pitch in even in small ways on this very difficult child-raising gig we have, then try to cut them some slack and recognize what a blessing it is to have people to help out in the day to day grind.

Appreciate your people, tell them how much they mean to you, and enjoy that date night that doesn’t include paying a babysitter.

Do you have family that live in the area? Or is it just your immediate family that is here locally? How do you handle either situation?

Mandy was born and raised in Shreveport and married her best friend, Dustin, in 2008. When they moved to Baton Rouge in 2010 for graduate school, they had no idea how much this city would change their lives. After meeting some incredibly inspiring people, they decided to become foster parents in 2011 and adopted their bundle of energy, Joseph, in 2014. Mandy works part time as the Safe Families for Children Coordinator, a program that aims to support and stabilize families who are experiencing a crisis. She spends the rest of her time managing Joseph's therapies for autism and living out the gift and honor of being a mom. When she has a few minutes of spare time, Mandy loves to bake, draw, hit the pavement for a run, or even better- NAP!

8 COMMENTS

  1. We have always lived away from family (until recently when my younger brother moved in ‘to get back on his feet’, but he’s full on single-hipster status and only helpful in short bursts). I’m thankful that my parents are only 1.5 hours away, so we see them fairly regularly and they can come for a weekend occassionally. I am most appreciative for the family that we’ve built here in BR which is mainly comprised of “church friends”. Seriously, I don’t know that I could have survived without these moms who have helped on ‘in service days’ and sick days and moving days and I’m-just-plum-exhausted days.

    • Yes! The family we’ve created here is fabulous. I have a hard time asking for help, but having a group of friends that are supportive and helpful is so great! Love the comment of just-plum-exhausted days-so true!

  2. I feel your pain! We are 9 hours from family and it’s so hard! But I will say it has made our marriage stronger since its “just us”. Hang in their mama, there are lots of us strong, doing it alone families!

    • Thanks for those sweet words Traci! We often say that the best thing we could have done for our marriage was to move away from family. It forced us to only rely on each other and build this really beautiful partnership.

  3. This was such a good and honest read. We are 13 hours away from one family and 15 hours away from the other, and we have been for 13 years. It breaks my heart that our families are not able to witness all of the activities and accomplishments of our girls. I love my Baton Rouge “family”, but I miss having our family close.

  4. Try doing this as a single mother. You have help if you have a spouse or another parent. That is something to not take for granted, too.

  5. According to me, the extended family is important because apart from grandparents the study indicates that extended family members such as uncles and aunts are too important in a family. They can guide us at difficult times and also teach good manner to all young ones. Family members can be your first source when you need assistance at difficult times.

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