If you ask for parental opinions on traveling with children, stand back and prepare yourself for responses of the very strong and greatly varied nature. While my wife and I were all for packing up the whole gang and hitting the road, or sky, or sea, we completely understood how daunting the thought of it all could be.
A simple Google search will yield ample articles and research-based studies, singing the praises of traveling with one’s young. Seeing the world, or even other parts of a home state, give opportunities for families to bond, as well as experiences children can learn and grow from. What the articles and research state are rarely opposed by parents, because as most know travel is, in its purest form, a wonderful thing. Parents aren’t put off by giving their kids experiences, but rather by the paying for, planning, and pulling off of the experiences. Whether approaching travel when our kids were babies, or now as we travel with our kids and their babies, three things have been and still remain non-negotiables for consideration.
First, parents have to count the cost. Keeping up with the Joneses has always been a thing. However, in this age of social media, it’s an extremely amplified thing. Constant bombardment via Facebook posts and Instagram pics of seemingly perfect vacations with perfect families enjoying them can be dishearteningly overwhelming to most of us in the parental population. No matter how staged we have come to understand many images in our society to be, the sting of not being able to give our kids extravagant trips can get to us. However, very early on, my wife and I learned that it’s not always about where a family travels, it’s about the family just simply traveling . . . together. In 30 years of parenting, we have taken everything from “eating sandwiches out of the back of the minivan on the way to the campsite” to “flying across the country and staying at hotels with cool indoor pool” trips. Not even getting much time in this blog, are the “staycations” we have enjoyed, and we truly did enjoy them. Don’t feel the need to overspend or go in debt to give your kids travel memories. If you are stressed about the finances, chances are no one will have a great time. Definitely make travel experiences a goal, but also make sure you do your homework in selecting the right kind of trip for both your family and your family’s financial seasons.
Planning: The second thing we always have considered when planning family travel is thorough planning. When I say “planning,” I don’t mean strict, regimenting schedules where the parents have to play the roles of “wagon masters.” If you have had kids for more than a minute, you know flexibility is something you have to leave room for. But, doing your trip homework paves the way for smoother travel times. Don’t roll your eyes at travel guides, especially those created with kids in mind. Of course, the internet is ripe with all sorts of resources, and your local bookstore or library is, as well. We leverage websites and travel blogs, but we also enjoy getting our hands on a good old paper version of a Birnbaum guide. As your planning, don’t forget to include your kids in the process, you might be surprised how the excitement and bonding can begin long before your trip does. In fact, there have been so many times our kids have told us, “planning the trip and anticipating its arrival was as fun as the trip itself.”
Execution: Finally, when it comes to pulling the whole thing off, well, if you’ve figured out to pay for it, and you’ve thoroughly planned for it, execution should be the fun part. If you’re not worrying about the money, or having arguments in the car about where to go next because you’ve got a solid plan, you have eliminated a majority of the typical trip stressors. So, limit your phone usage, which goes for parents, as well as kids, and purpose to be 100% in the moments you have so eagerly anticipated . . . together.
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at email@example.com
Back in 2012, my wife and I made the decision to take our three children, then 9, 8 and 1, to Disney World in Orlando FL. What a fun vacation and lots of memories for the kids, we thought. We stayed for a week, and got some time at the Ocean, took in a Rays baseball game, got on a pirate ship and did several other fun things besides Disney.
Seven years later, I decided to ask the kids what they loved most about that trip. I knew our youngest would have no memory, which he did not. I asked my son Alex, “what was your favorite memory from our trip to Disney World?” His response, “which one?” I explained that there was only one. He then said he didn’t remember any of it, but loved the water park at Six Flags—St Louis.
I asked my daughter who was 9 at the time, now almost 16, the same question. She also said she could not remember the trip. So I spent over $5k so we could spend a week in hellish heat and humidity, when I could have just taken them to Six Flags or Silver Dollar City.
Over the years we have taken several weekend road trips to the lake, Branson, St. Louis or KC. For whatever reason, my oldest son gets car sick more times than not. The first few times, we dealt with unexpected and sudden projectile vomiting in the back seat. Since then, we made sure we were fully prepared.
Last December, we took a week-long trip to Las Vegas. I knew the Christmas lights would be something to see, and there were lots of fun things for the kids to do. Now that the children were 7, 13 and 15, it made the trip a whole lot less stressful and more enjoyable. The only real issue was what to eat. My youngest is very picky, and doesn’t like change. While we tried a few different establishments, I always ended up having to find him some McDonald’s or a Subway. Buffets are always the best option, because each of them can always find something they like, or at least get full trying everything they don’t like.
I would have to say that “vacationing” with multiple children under the age of 10, is not a vacation at all. If I had to do it over again, I’d keep the trips local and within a few hours driving distance, until at least two of them were over 10 years of age.
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.thecodylife.weebly.com
Ask any Prime driver and he or she will tell you there are a number of ways to stay connect with family while gone from home. We’ve heard about Skype, Facetime, talking on the phone and special apps that make communication easier in remote locations. The important thing, they say, is to touch base on a regular basis.
Heide Kapinos knew she was signing up for a long-distance relationship complete with many forms of communication when she married her husband, Anthony. What she didn’t expect was to be sharing a cab with him as a long-haul driver herself. Although Anthony was positively encouraging about her ability to drive an 18-wheeler, Heidi resisted. However, Anthony was persistent and pointed out the many financial advantages of driving together, along with being able to avoid long separations. Eventually, she agreed to give it a try. She admits to some “tense moments” in training while she was learning to master many of the parking and backing maneuvers a driver must learn. Nonetheless, she made it happen and today spends nearly 24/7 together with Anthony in the truck.
Too Much Togetherness?
Heidi explains it is not like they’re together all the time. Although they occupy the same physical location, Heidi says their “together time” is really much less. “When I’m driving; he’s often sleeping and vice versa. Given this reality and the times we are loading or unloading, it really is much less.
Anthony and Heidi Eck have been together for four years. Together they have six children from their previous marriages. Anthony has three sons and one daughter; Heidi has one son, Hunter (20) and a daughter, Cheylee (18). Anthony’s oldest sons Tyler (22) and Colby 20) live with Heidi’s children in the same house. Anthony’s youngest children Savannah (11) and Carter (7) live with their mother.
Parenting from the Road
How do Heidi and Anthony make their over-the-road marriage and blended family parenting work?
It’s probably not surprising to learn that Heidi and Anthony use the typical technology (phones and web-based media) to stay in touch. It might be more surprising to learn they have cameras installed in their living room so they can observe what’s going on with young adult children. It’s their way to all be “together” even when they are geographically far apart.
The couple has high expectations for their four oldest children. “They pay rent to us if they’re not in school,” says Heidi. They are expected to have a job, pay their bills on time, including their cell phone bills.
The couple models good financial management themselves. They drive 6-8 weeks at a time before coming home for a week, and are open with their children about money-related matters. “We remind them about why we are gone. We are working toward goals from which they all will benefit.
With the “littles,” (what the couple affectionately calls Anthony’s younger two children, “constant communication” is key. Anthony calls every day before school and makes time for them a priority. Heidi says they often give gift cards to the “littles” for birthdays or special occasions. These are used when the younger two join their dad and Heidi on the truck for a few weeks in the summertime.
At home or over the road, Heidi says flexibility is key. When a driver comes home it can be both “difficult” and “lovely.”
“It’s wonderful to see them, but also difficult to have the routine disrupted,” she notes.
She encourages the at-home partner to remember the couple’s long-term goals and the importance of team effort. There’s little doubt that whether a couple is driving together or one partner is supporting the other from home, success is always a team effort.
It’s not easy when a good dad travels for work. He misses his family and they miss him. Yet, millions of dads travel or work away from home for extended periods of time. Some must travel as a requirement of their employment. Many like what they do, they just wish it didn’t require them to be absent so often. Those who do it successfully often credit the importance of their “home team,” i.e., their wife, their significant other, or the caregiver for their children.
Experts tell us that couples who go the distance together have a number of important characteristics. These include making the couple relationship a priority, taking the long-term view, making healthy sacrifices for each other, and preserving time for fun and friendship. After all, you didn’t really get married to solve problems—though that is part of life. You got together because you had fun, talked like friends, and enjoyed each other’s company.
At Good Dads, we have a special heart for husbands and fathers who travel and “dad at a distance.” We recently reached out to a number of women whose husbands drive over-the-road to ask about how they stay connected as a couple. What follows are words of wisdom from women who live the life and are happy to share what they’ve learned with other “home team” women.
The Importance of Regular Connection
Staying connected as a couple can be a challenge, but Melanie Borden says technology made it easier. Even so, establishing a regular routine is important. She notes that she and her husband, Paul, “talk every morning by phone, sorting out the day’s business and touching base to make sure everything is good. We will usually talk or text a couple of times a day and we Skype with the dogs and grandkids on the weekends, when he is not home. We weather the ups and downs of marriage and always end a call with a laugh or something upbeat.”
Brandy Howe, married for eight years to her driver husband, reports something similar and stresses the importance of making each other a priority. She says, “This is the most important to us. We start and end our day with each other. We talk first thing in the morning and end the day talking. No matter how crazy my day gets, I always stop and call at certain times throughout my day just to say ‘Hi’ and ask how his day is going. He’s the first person I talk to and the last person also. No matter how stressed or busy we get, we always make each other our top priority.”
Some technology may work better than others, especially in remote locations. Theresa “Alika” Radloff says her and her husband, Alan, prefer to use the phone app, Duo, to stay connected. She says, “Duo is a phone app that has a better video/audio as far as video chats go. We talk on that at least once a day so that we can see each other and somewhat feel like we are together under the same roof.” Sometimes this approach extends to a three-way Skype video call between Alan, her and the children who live with their mother in another state. This way all of them can communicate as a family.
Alika has some health challenges which interfere with spontaneous conversation, so she texts Alan about times when she will not be available so that he does not worry if she doesn’t answer the phone.
Brandi urges couples to “be unique and creative in finding ways that work” for them. She and her husband enjoy very similar interests, so while he is away they share links to videos or articles about hunting, archery and other interests. He listens to podcasts when he is driving, so they have conversations on the phone about what he has learned about upcoming elk hunting, archery, and other topics. Sharing interests and staying connected through those interests plays an important role in their successful marriage.
Solving Problems Together
One of the more difficult aspects of being apart from each other involves handling problems or potential areas of disagreement together. Some suggest these kinds of conversations take place in person, face-to-face, but when a driver is gone for several weeks at a time, this may not always be practical. Couples may also want to avoid using precious home time for handling potential conflict. For this reason, Alika recommends email. She says, “When there is something of importance that needs to be addressed, then we email each other. We do the email or text thing for two reasons: one, it’s in black and white; and two, if we need to go back to check on something that was said, neither of us can forget. Silly, I know, but it works.”
The Home Routine
Finally, Brandi underscores the importance of establishing a routine for when her husband is home. They typically have one full day a week together, so having a routine helps them “make the most of every hour. She says, “I know about what time he will be home each week, so I will be there to greet him and have made it part of my routine.” She says the couple also makes a practice of having a once a month date night or date day.
Love the Man Who Loves His Work
It might be easy for a woman to be angry or resentful when her husband is gone from her so much of the time. However, we didn’t find a shred of bitterness or self-pity from these “women of steel.” Perhaps Alika summed it up best. “I have been asked time and time again why does he leave me home alone while he stays out on the road all the time. The answer is simple. He has his dream job and I would never take him from that, at least not unless I am completely handicapped where I cannot do anything on my own. I know not many people nowadays get that opportunity. He is one of the lucky few able to achieve his dream before he is too old to do anything at all. I am proud of him and will stick by him through this adventure of life. We will always talk and keep in touch with each other no matter what part of the USA he is at the time.”
Dr. Jennifer Baker
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at email@example.com.
“Respect your elders and especially your mother!”
That’s one of the principle behaviors Eric Graley wants his kids to grow up knowing. It’s Sabrina, his wife of 16 years, he says who helps him to be successful as a driver. When he decided to drive over the road more than three years ago, it was a decision both of them weighed in on. Sabrina’s opinion was also considered when he moved to drive for Prime in 2018. “She’s my rock,” he says, and adds, “I wouldn’t be driving without her.
Eric Graley has been driving an 18-wheeler for three and a half years, the past year for Prime. He is also the father to three daughters and a son ranging in age from four to 15. Eric serves as a trainer for new Prime drivers, spending up to six weeks (or 30,000 miles) with a new employee. He enjoys it; the money is good; and he views driving as a way to provide a comfortable lifestyle for his family. “Driving for Prime, I’m able to provide a good life for my wife and kids,” he states.
Just because he’s gone from home six to eight weeks at a time, does not mean Eric is not thinking about his family. The stuffed animals from the kids that Eric has on his dash in the truck and the daily phone check-ins mean they are often on his mind. “Every morning,” he explains, “I try to video call and check in with each of them—even for just five minutes, to find out what they’re doing and tell them I love them.”
Eric also stresses the importance of including his family by telling them where he’s at and where’s he’s going. (The day we caught up with Eric he was headed south out of Colorado in route to Laredo, Texas with 43,000 lbs. of yogurt.) He told us, “I try to take pictures of things my kids are interested in seeing.” His 12-year-old daughter, for instance, likes to see snow and city lights, so Eric has sent her several photos of snow. The night skies of Houston, Dallas, St. Louis and others have also been included. Noticing and photographing some of her current interests help her know he is thinking of her. He said he had a similar experience with his older daughter who was fascinated with cactus for a time.
Eric says he also likes to bring his kids small gifts when he comes home after a month or two on the road to see his family for a week or two. This might include a dream catcher in honor of their Native American heritage or a new beanie baby. “It’s not the size that matters,” he explains. “It’s that I want them to know I’ve been thinking about them.”
As much as he loves his children, Eric insists he would not be where he is today without the love, support and encouragement of Sabrina. Perhaps this, and his southern heritage, is one of the reasons it’s critical to him that his children learn to “respect their elders,” and especially their mother. When he comes home he does everything he can to make her life easier. Even when he’s on the road, he’s not afraid to be stern with the children if necessary.
“Sometimes,” he says, “I give them a stern talking to. At other times, there might be a group scolding.” If necessary, he’s not afraid to add, “You don’t know when I’m coming home.” And although it’s not easy to discipline children you’ve been missing, Eric says he is not afraid to do what’s necessary to help his children develop into respectful adults who use “Yes, mam” and “No sir.”
“If I need to deal with some misbehavior,” he explains, “I try to do it right away after I get home so we can get it done and over with and enjoy the rest of our time together.”
We wondered if Eric talked to his trainee drivers about more than driving, for instance, about how to stay connected with your family even when you were gone. Eric’s response was swift and certain. “Trust your wife and don’t act on ‘bad dreams,’ i.e. the thought she’s not being faithful to you.”
“I’ve seen marriages ruined simply because a guy acted on a ‘bad dream.’ Keep including her in your life on a daily basis and it will make things much easier.”
From Eric’s perspective, success as a driver means making it a family affair. Respecting, valuing and loving your wife or partner is an important first step. Staying connected with your kids while on the road is the second. Together, they form a powerful bond even when dad is driving over the road.
In February Daniel Skidmore was driving his truck in Illinois in when he got the call his wife, Kerry, was in early labor. Her water had broken and she was headed to the hospital. He quickly got on the phone with his fleet manager at Prime headquarters and was told he could bring his load into Springfield, Missouri and catch a flight out of the airport there. Jackson Daniel Skidmore was five weeks early, but he still waited just long enough for his daddy to arrive.
Daniel recalls, “I made it to the hospital less than two hours before my first born was delivered via emergency C-section. Prime is and will always be a family-first company, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Who knows, in 21 years I might be training him how to drive with us."
Daniel has been driving for Prime since December 2015. He began his career with another company, but says he quickly changed to Prime when learned of the great benefits there. In 2016 he became a CDL instructor, something he has enjoyed doing for the past three years. He sees driver training as both an art form and skill set. “You can teach someone the skills necessary to pass the Missouri Department of Transportation test, but knowing how to drive under different conditions and a variety of settings—that’s an art form that can only be learned in real life situations.” This is what Daniel hopes to teach the new drivers he trains.
A native of central West Virginia, Daniel initially sought employment in manufacturing or warehousing when he moved Florida in 2015. The jobs available did not pay well. At some point, he started thinking about driving and consulted Kerry about the opportunity and possibility. He found both her and his parents to be both encouraging and supportive. “She wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and my driving allows it.”
Even though he’s on the road and Kerry is at home with Jackson, Daniel sees his wife’s ongoing support as vital to his success and happiness as a driver. “Kerry,” he insists, “is my emotional rock” and explains how he found talking with her reassuring while recently driving in wintry conditions.
“Today,” Daniel says, “I can’t imagine doing anything else. The view outside my ‘office’ window changes every mile. I like the challenge of driving—the multiple calculations I need to make with fuel, hours of service, and parking to be successful. It makes me think!”
Daniel typically drives four to six weeks before returning home for a break. In order to stay happy and healthy on the road he recommends the following:
1. While on the road, find time for “you,” that is your own space even when you have another driver with you. It’s important to preserve at least some personal space.
2. Plan “daddy days” when you’re home. For Daniel this means taking full responsibility caring for his son. “It gives my wife a break and allows me to bond with my son,” He explains. He acknowledges that Kerry’s help in making a detailed list and schedule goes a long way to helping him be successful in this regard.
3. Help out your wife when you’re home. She carries the burden most of the time when you’re gone.
4. Arrange with your fleet manager to be home for special occasions, e.g., Christmas and birthdays.
Although he can’t be home as often as he likes, Daniel still thinks a great deal about what he wants for his son. He has strong ideas about how he plans to train and influence Jackson. “He needs to know how to properly treat a woman. I want him to treat his partner with love and respect. I want him to know that home is a safe place, even when he’s made mistakes. Kerry and I will try to be firm and fair no matter what has happened.”
With an attitude, aspirations and support like this, it’s easy to see how and why Daniel is a Prime Good Dad.
Before he began driving for Prime, Rosalio Matute Jr. (aka Junior Honduras), did his homework. He researched a lot of companies and came to the conclusion Prime was the best one for him. He earned his CDL with Prime and began driving with Prime in July 2011 and eventually became a trainer—something he loves that feels like a natural fit for his personality and background. His experience as a crew trainer at McDonald’s helped him know he would enjoy training others and seeing their skills develop and improve.
Prior to becoming a Prime driver, Junior worked as a plant manager at an architecture molding company in Sarasota, Florida. He knows a lot about crown molding and tell you quickly whether or not something is solid concrete or foam-based. Eventually with the recession, the company where Junior was employed instituted lay-offs and he lost his job. It was then Junior began considering a “Plan B,” namely his lifelong interest in driving an 18-wheeler. He and Pamela, his wife, discussed it and he decided to apply to Prime--something he considers a really good decision. He began driving for Prime as a company driver for three months and soon switched to leasing his own truck. Junior is clearly proud of what he does as a driver and the ways in which he can provide for his family.
He says, “I can give them things I couldn’t have as a child.”
Junior’s family, his “home team,” includes his wife, Pamela, daughters Elizabeth (15), Emily (11) and Caitlyn (4) and son, Dylan (2). He clearly recognizes the role Pamela plays in keeping things running smoothly while he drives over-the-road. He has strong feelings about the importance of discipline and education.
“She’s the one in charge,” he explains. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the bad guy. I hate doing it, but I’ve got to do it so they grow up right.”
Junior admits that driving over-the-road can be difficult for one’s family. For that reason, he intentionally chooses to do a lot of his driving in Florida—an area some drivers avoid because of the rain—so he has more opportunities to see his wife and children.
“Many people don’t like it,” he says, “but I’ll take it. If it allows me to go by the house for a few hours, I’ll do it.”
In terms of being successful with driving and maintaining a healthy marriage and family life, Junior advises, “Communication is key. I try to stay in touch with my wife as much as I can. Stay on top of the conversations and what’s going on. Talk . . . talk . . . talk. It helps out here. Make time to let your wife and kids know you’re thinking about them.”
Do you drive for Prime? Get a free decal for your truck telling the world you are a Prime Good Dad by going to www.primegooddads.com and signing up for the Prime Good Dads program.
I am a father of three children, ages 7, 13 and 15. I am the only driver in the house, so I am constantly on the go. I pick up and deliver kids to three different schools each day. There are sports practices and games all year round. Birthday party invites seem to come weekly, not to mention sleepovers and slumber parties. All of this makes family time a bit difficult.
There are times when I am forced to tell my teenagers, “No,” to doing something fun with their friends, so that we may have a night of family time. My daughter, who is now in high school, feels she misses out on a lot when I won’t allow her to go to a football game so that we can spend quality family time together. The thing is, she has no interest in the actual football game. I believe, in the end, she really enjoys hanging out watching movies and eating popcorn with her brothers.
My seven-year-old comes home with many birthday party invites. These are usually on the weekends when we have the chance to spend time together as a family. I can easily convince him to skip a party, as long as I come up with something fun to do as a family. There have been times where I have “accidentally” forgotten about the party. I usually don’t hear from him about it until after his first day back to school with his friends.
I just recently got to thinking about the last time we, as a family, took a vacation outside of the state of Missouri. I realized it had been six years. My youngest was one-year-old when we went to Disney World in Orlando. Yes, we take small trips to KC, St Louis, Branson, Jeff City, Columbia and Lake of the Ozarks, but they need to experience more.
I made the decision to plan and book a weeklong trip this December. The kids will have to miss four days of school, but I feel like it’s worth it. I will surprise them with this pre-Christmas trip, right before we are set to leave.
While there will always be the “fear of missing out” for our children, we as parents can turn those moments into “joys of missing out.”
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.thecodylife.weebly.com
Robert Hullett has been with Prime nearly two years—7 months driving accompany truck and more recently, as a lease operator. He currently drives a 2016 Peterbilt and is looking forward to upgrading to a 2019 Peterbilt soon. He drives a “reefer” (refrigerator trailer). During the last two years, Robert has learned a lot about making money, saving money, and setting aside time to be with family—all skills and information he shares as a trainer with new drivers at Prime. As a solo driver, he says he averages $4000-$7500/week [gross revenue] depending on how the loads run the proximity of delivery sites between pick up and drop off.
Before coming to Prime, Robert worked for 25 years in warehousing, so he has a good understanding of the shipping and receiving side of trucking. He has done it all – loading, unloading, reception, shipping and receiving, and describes coming to Prime as a career boost. He hopes to have a long career with Prime and eventually move to a position as fleet manager, a job for which he believes he is well qualified with his background in warehousing. Even so, he sees himself as continuing to learn every day on the most financially rewarding loads and freight lanes.
Robert has researched and thought about driving a truck for more than 20 years—according to him, since he was in the sandbox. He was influenced by the fathers of friends, who also drove a truck. He also credits his desire to drive to wanting to provide in the best way possible for his family.
Robert has three daughters – two he shares with his fiancée, ages 6- and 9-years-old. During the summer months, he does the best he can to arrange time to take them with him—something the girls really enjoy. When possible, he arranges loads with his family on the truck and they go on vacation together.
Robert stays connected with his loved ones in through his cell phone. When he’s not driving, he uses video chat and Facebook. His goal is to use a video camera focused on him while he’s driving (a vlog) allowing his family to see what he is doing while he’s driving without him seeing them, thus eliminating distractions for him while he’s on the road. He loves the idea of sharing his view from the road, including many of his scenic vistas, with his fiancée and daughters at home.
Reflecting on the lyrics of “Barbed Wire and Roses,” Robert acknowledges that “being a truck driver can ruin a family because if you’re not home, you miss out on so much.” He’s realistic about the challenges drivers face in staying connected with their loved ones, but continues to remain optimistic about ways to stay in touch.
Advice to New Drivers
Robert has trained close to 50 drivers, so he has had more than a few opportunities to pass along words of encouragement and wisdom to new drivers. Here are a few of his thoughts:
1) Use cameras, video chatting and even make a video diary to stay in touch with loved ones.
2) Budget time and finance for home time.
3) Let your family know how important they are to you. Robert has named his LLC after his three daughters.
4) Keep family members informed. Let them know what’s going on with you. Talk frequently.
5) Consider allowing your partner to handing the bookkeeping so you’ll both know what’s going on.
6) Stay flexible in your thinking and approach to the challenges you face, e.g., sometimes it’s possible to stop by for a brief visit with your kids when your route runs near home.
Some families go somewhere on vacation in the summer. Some prefer a “stay-cation.” And some use the precious months of June, July and August to pack up everything they own and move half-way across the country.
In last week’s Good Dads Podcast we caught up with Alex and Miriam Green who are preparing to move from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts to a city near Nashville, Tennessee. The Greens have elected to use a moving service where they pack the truck and someone else drives it to the new location where they then unpack it. They’ve lived in the Boston area for about three years and are trying to squeeze in as many visits with friends, birthday celebrations (four of the six of them have birthdays in a one-month period) and trips to the ocean as possible before they head west toward the Midwest.
This week we touch base with Minor and Sarah Baker who are moving from Austin, Texas to Springfield, Missouri. The Bakers chose to pack all their belongings into a pod, which will be delivered to their new home near the end of June. In the interim, they’ve been living first with Sarah’s parents and then Minor’s, waiting for the dust to settle and their new home to become available—not an easy task for a family with four kids and two dogs.
The Bakers’ departure from Austin is bittersweet for them. They’re excited about moving to a new community with new jobs. They like the thought of having both sets of grandparents nearby. Nonetheless, they’ve spent the last twelve years of their lives in Austin where all four of their children were born and they owned their first home. Along with the stress of packing, there’s the emotion of saying good-bye to many happy memories. Sometimes, in the midst of heat, humidity and hot-pod-packing it can all be a bit too much.
What have they done, we wondered, to get themselves and their kids through this taxing period? Here’s what we learned from Minor and Sarah:
1. Embrace friends and family while you’re packing—especially if they offer to help. Ask them to keep an eye on your kids. Sarah noted what a godsend this was in the last nerve-wracking days of emptying the house into the pod.
2. Save room for couple time. Minor and Sarah agree that it may sound a bit odd to be planning a date night in the midst of moving, but they view it as an energizing essential to keep them going and reward them at the end of a long day. They agree that a little bit of fun for the two of you helps keep things in perspective.
3. Find some local stuff to do as advance preparation. Minor mentioned how much he has enjoyed reading the Springfield News-Leader and listening to podcasts originating in the region as preparation for life in a new context. Both agree it’s helpful and exciting to become familiar with your new community before you leave the previous one. Saying good-bye can be hard, so it’s nice to do something that helps build the anticipation for living in a new location.
4. Rent first; then buy. Initially the Bakers wanted to move from their home in Austin to a new home in Springfield. They could’ve done it. They sold their house and had a down payment in hand. However, after considerable thought and discussion they determined it might be best to actually live in their new city for a bit before committing to a new home and neighborhood. While moving twice can be a pain, Minor and Sarah decided it was a less stressful decision for them than trying to decide quickly on a new home 600 miles from their new location.
Most people don’t look forward to uprooting from one locale and re-rooting in a new area, but listening to couples like the Greens and the Bakers does help. Taking care of yourself and your couple relationship all go a long way to helping your kids embrace the experience of moving and the adventure of a new community where you'll hopefully be building happy new memories for years to come.