Alyssa and her husband, Steven, had been living in Wyoming for a few years, and were hoping to move back to the Midwest, closer to both of their families (Michigan and Ohio). Finally, a good job came up, and they made a quick decision: they were moving cross country to Wisconsin.
They had previously lived in Indiana, and had two children there before moving to Wyoming with the two very young kids in tow. While in Wyoming, they decided to add one more to their family. So this time, they would be moving cross country with two parents, three children (8 years, 5 years, and 6 months), and a small dog. Sounds overwhelming!
Preparing for the Long Haul
As soon as the decision was official, it was time to start preparing. They had loose ends to tie up in Wyoming, including mail forwarding, paying bills, and preparing to sell their house. They also had to prepare the older children mentally and give them time to process what was happening. This was especially hard on 8-year-old Alex, who had to say goodbye to all his friends.
One thing that helped the two older children with their preparation was calendars Alyssa made for them. Each child had different tasks and activities scheduled throughout the month before the big move: family visits, play dates, going away parties, packing days, and moving day.
A month before they moved, Alyssa had a big garage sale. Anything that didn’t sell was donated. Then the packing process began – very slowly throughout the month. She also created a “Last Out, First In” box of necessary items.
Off We Go!
Most of the items that would be traveling in their cars with them were packed just a few days before – clothes, toys, etc. The kids helped with some of the packing, including their clothes, so they got to choose which ones they wanted with them. For bigger items, and those that remained after they left, they used the moving and packing company paid for by her husband’s new employer, supervised by their friends.
Packed the night before, the older kids got “travel boxes” for the trip: word searches, games, coloring pages, new toys, Legos, window markers, travel lights for their books, DVDs, and gifts from friends. Alyssa got the ideas for these boxes from other moms and from Pinterest. She recommends these for other families taking road trips.
DVD players in the car were a life saver, and when it comes to car activities for the kids, too much is better than not enough. Alyssa also recommends packing snacks – you may find out the hard way that a certain rest stop doesn’t have any vending machines!
Alyssa and Steven planned the road trip over three days, so they didn’t have to rush and be in the car too long each day. Alyssa drove her SUV with the three children, Steven drove his truck, accompanied by their dog, and pulling their other car on a trailer. They would stop and have dinner and relax in the evenings, and found places to take little breaks along the way – “even if it was just a rest stop with a cool sculpture.” It was important to just get out of the car, and let the kids run around.
They were a slow moving caravan, but after about 22 total hours in the car over three days’ time, they made it.
Are We There Yet?
Picking out their new home was relatively easy. Steven had scouted several areas and looked at 20-30 houses with a realtor before the move, and had narrowed it down to three for the whole family to see. They arrived in town on Friday, saw houses on Saturday, and put in an offer on the one that was exactly what they were looking for and just felt right.
Then came the worst part of the whole adventure: living in a hotel until they could move into their new house. That doesn’t sound so bad…until it drags on for a month and a half. It was a nightmare process, dealing with a realtor and lender who were poor communicators, but they knew it would be worth it for their new house and neighborhood.
While living in the hotel, the kids had very few outlets for their energy. Alyssa felt bad every time her baby cried, not wanting to bother others in the hotel. Their room had no kitchen, just a small microwave and mini-fridge, so they had to go out for nearly every meal, which got old quickly. The hotel did have a grill, so a few times they grilled out and had microwavable side dishes. It was very cramped for the family, especially with a baby who was learning to move and crawl. They even had to move rooms several times, which meant packing up everything all over again.
Tension was high. Things improved when the older two started school, but mornings were still very hectic. To stave off cabin fever, they would take little weekend trips and explore the area. Alyssa joined a gym and would go regularly for a chance to blow off some steam. She now says wished she had joined the gym sooner – it could have prevented some fights and negativity.
Home Sweet Home (Finally!)
The movers came to their new house the morning after closing, and the unpacking and settling in began!
Alyssa started painting right away: one room the day of closing, the kids’ rooms were done week by week, plus the laundry room. There was a lot to be done, but Alyssa kept plugging away!
Five-year-old Katey would lose interest in unpacking quickly, but Alex was very helpful. He would surprise his mom by unpacking boxes in his baby brother’s room, even putting new batteries in the musical mobile and attaching it to the crib.
The new house felt like home within a month or two. It took about four months to get everything unpacked, room by room. Alyssa and her family feel settled in, even though the basement is still full of boxes, and there are more improvements to be done.
Because she’s a mom of three fantastic kids, settling into their new town and neighborhood socially has been pretty quick. Neighbors stopped over to welcome them, bringing food and giving out their phone numbers, and would host bonfires in their driveways in the late summer where the parents would talk and kids would run around together. They met other parents at “back to school” and “new family” nights at their new school, her husband got involved with a school dads’ poker night, and she started volunteering at the school and leading her daughter’s Daisy troop. She has met a lot of wonderful people in their new home.
Her kids are settling in well too. Alex struggled at first because he had good friends in Wyoming. He acted out some while they were living in the hotel. Joining Cub Scouts helped him make friends with the boys in his class, and things have been much better for him. Katey is a social butterfly, and had most of the girls from her class at her birthday party, after only being at their new school for a month.
If They Can Survive Moving Cross Country with Kids, So Can You
The whole process was incredibly stressful, but Alyssa is so glad they did it. This new life and new place feel right, feel like home.
The whole three years they were living in Wyoming, she didn’t feel like she fit in, or like it was home.
Now everything feels right, and she couldn’t be happier. They’re now also only 4-8 hours from any of their family members, and so glad to be able to easily visit for holidays, or attend birthdays, weddings, and funerals.
Alyssa grew up moving multiple times, moving between divorced parents’ houses, and had no feeling of nostalgia for a house, unlike Steven, whose sister lives in the house they grew up in.
In her new home, she says she feels a connection. She believes they could be there a long time: raise their kids, grow old, and one day care for grandkids. It’s a feeling she’s never had, but now loves.
It took a long and stressful journey, testing her and her family across the country and in close hotel quarters, but it was all worth it. They feel at home, and are bonded even stronger as a family.
Lisa is a wife and mom of a baby girl. She enjoys trying out new forms of exercise and fitness, but her favorites are pole dance fitness, aerial silks, and yoga. She also volunteers some of her spare time to a local cat rescue. Since discovering her sexy strength a couple years ago, she is the happiest she has been her whole life, and is happy to share it with you. Got a question for Lisa? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org