Raising Kids Without A Village
Kids & Family

Raising Our Kids Without A Village

Fresh out of college, I accepted an internship position in Atlanta, GA so we packed everything we owned and moved to a tiny one-bedroom apartment just North of the city. We enjoyed our time in Atlanta; we were young and there was always something to do. At that point in our lives, it didn’t matter to us that our village, our support systems, lived in different states.

We married in 2012 and soon after learned we were pregnant with our first baby; that changed everything. We longed to be near our family and friends so we’d have a village to help us raise our new baby. We wanted our baby to experience the bond we shared with our grandparents when we were young. 

We settled on Cincinnati because it was central to all of our parents; spread between Columbus and Indianapolis, visits meant only a short two-hour drive – very do-able!

A short time later, two sets of soon-to-be grandparents moved away, one to Kansas City and the other to North Carolina. Between the two of us, our nine siblings live in Kansas City, Nashville, and Raleigh. Sure, our parents and siblings come to visit, and we travel — to Columbus, Kansas City, and North Carolina — when we can. But, if we’re honest, it’s not the same.

It’s not the way I had always imagined my family life would be. Growing up, I was raised in a small Indiana town where the majority of my family lived. We attended regular family gatherings at my Grandparents house and holidays were spent with aunts, uncles, and cousins. We’d have the occasional sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa; we’d play our favorite game of War, eat popcorn, and wake up for a breakfast only Grandma could make (as simple as it was, she made the best bacon and toast).

But that’s not a reality our kids enjoy; they don’t have a built-in village. We call off work when the kids are sick because we don’t have an alternative. Date nights are hard to come by, especially with a newborn; it’s so difficult to find babysitters you trust and you know can manage multiple kids at such young ages. It’s not unusual to spend holidays as just a small family unit. Home improvements and landscaping projects are difficult to start and even more difficult to finish with three young ones with us at home. 

But, we do the best we can. We do have a small army of close friends who’ve become family and occasionally include us in their family gatherings (thank you, you know who you are). We call and Facetime with their Grandparents and I try to post pictures on Facebook as often as I can. We travel and visit as much as time (and money) allow.

Though we are alone in the sense that we don’t have our village nearby, we know we’re far from alone. Our parents are always supportive and we know they love and adore our kids. We can’t change our circumstances, but we can make the best of it. We can show our kids every day how much they’re loved because, at the end of the day, even a small village is still a village.

xoxo Sarah


Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

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  • Reply Alicia Heil August 11, 2017 at 9:33 am

    I’m inspired by your courage to pack up and move!

  • Reply becky owens August 11, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I can totally relate! When we first got married we moved to Colorado for grad school. We lived there for 8 years and then moved for my husbands job. We lived in Phoenix, Orlando and then decided to move back to New England because at this point we had 4 kids. We thought we wanted the “tribe” but after living here for almost 6 years, I miss living where we wanted and just relying on ourselves and our friends that became family. I guess I am kinda jealous! 🙂

  • Reply Rebekah August 11, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I understand! Our closest family is 23 hours’ driving distance. 🙂 It was all fine until having kids and then I really missed my family, especially with my health struggles since having my son 6 years ago.

  • Reply Tara Frieden August 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I can relate. Our parents are each about 2hrs away, so holidays are spent with them, but date nights and sick kids really make me wish they were so much closer! I also grew up in a small town, (well 20 min outside of a small town) in IN. Living in the ‘burbs outside a big city is totally different. We are crafting a village from our church and neighborhood and while that is awesome, it’s not the same as grandparents just around the corner.

  • Reply Micaeh August 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Yes! We also have a very small village but I’m so thankful we have one. We don’t get away from the kids often, but we appreciate it so much when we are able to!

  • Reply Joanne August 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    I understand exactly. We moved away from our families when my kids were 1 & 3. So we also had to raise ours without a “village” and it was difficult.

  • Reply Jaime August 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Wow, I could have written this myself. My childhood was filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, too, but my child isn’t going to have that experience at all. Both of my parents have passed away and everyone lives apart now. It’s good that you still have that support, albeit a little further away.

  • Reply Kailey | The Haphazard Housewife August 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you for being so vulnerable! I’m sure it’s so hard! We are on the opposite spectrum and have most of our extended family within 30 minutes of us. I’m due with the first grandbaby in a few weeks and I’m somewhat overwhelmed thinking about all the helping hands eager to help. The introvert in me kind of wishes we didn’t have a village (I know that sounds bad and that it has it’s challenges but I’d love to be somewhere in the middle!)

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