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Toddler Tuesday: Relocating the Kids

Sometimes a family move is harder on mama than anyone else.

Toddler Tuesday: Relocating the Kids

Last year, my husband and I got a little adventurous—some might even say crazy. We packed up our Denver bungalow, kissed our Australian Shepherd goodbye, sold most of our furniture, and moved ourselves and two toddlers across the country to New York City. It was a major move for anyone, especially two corn-fed Midwestern kids who had gotten very used to the big spaces of the Western plains.

I was worried about the culture shock, of course. But I was more worried about my daughters and their transition. I could only see the things we were taking away from them: Mountain views. Proximity to grandparents (especially since I consider my own mother to be the greatest mom who ever lived). Backyard gardens and grass of their own. Little friendships they’d begun to form. School programs they were learning to love. The ease of a schedule that comes from living in a smaller, car-driving town. I felt guilty for uprooting them from all of their general familiarities, whether they were old enough for attachments to have really formed or not.

When we sat down with our oldest, who was just three at the time, to tell her about the move, I approached the topic with trepidation. “I don’t want you to worry,” I told her, trying to find the best way to make it all sound normal.

My husband, on the other hand, made it all into the dreamiest adventure. “We’ll live by trains!” he exclaimed. “By parks! And playgrounds! By a hundred different kinds of donuts. We can drive to the beach! We can drive over bridges! There will be more people than you can imagine!” All of this ignited our daughter’s enthusiasm, and she couldn’t wait to go.

Maybe it wasn’t my daughters I was worried about. It was me. Instead of focusing on the amazing things I knew we’d gain from our move, I was mourning our losses, even though I couldn’t identify it at the time. We were leaving behind the house I’d brought my babies home to, the place where I’d watched them live the first few years of life and make sensational discoveries. It was just a small sliver of our story together, but for me it was still a major chapter. In my mind, my leaving this was also their leaving it. It felt like we were all walking away from the only place I knew as home.

My mother had the best advice, as mothers do. “Remember when you brought your baby home, and you had been so worried that you wouldn’t have everything ready? That the laundry wouldn’t be washed or the nursery wouldn’t be decorated or you wouldn’t have found the right gear? But all that baby needed was you. You and maybe a blanket or two. Well, that’s still what they need. Just you.”

I was reminded of being little myself, of going around the world with mom and dad—or even just a trip to the grocery store—feeling totally normal because they were there. I remember the crazy way my dad drove down mountains, my mother clutching on to his arm, me and my siblings in the back seat either peacefully sleeping or blissfully taking in the views. I remember moving place to place and feeling like it was a family adventure. If my parents were there, I always felt that they knew what they were doing and that they would keep me safe. It was always home.

Sure enough, my daughters have acclimated to their New York lives rather beautifully. Their wide eyes and trusting hearts have reminded me to let this place continue to be sensational and to let it become our norm. Like my husband encouraged them, they find all the best parts of things from the safety net of just regular life with mom and dad.

As my daughter turns four and we are working our way through schooling decisions, extracurricular activities, new friendships, and the like, I strive to operate from this place. I want to remember that, while I will of course stress over every little decision or reaction or method I’m told I should be using, in the end, all my babies need is me. I won’t be the perfect mom, even if I make what I think are the perfect choices. But I will always be their mom, and that’s enough to make a home.

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Find out more about Sarah Ann Noel here.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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