There’s truly nothing like a world-wide pandemic to shift your priorities and make you question everything about your life; it’s certainly what happened to my family.
After five years of living very far from friends and family (including two stints on the West Coast as well as one in Europe), a few months into the pandemic, my husband and I were deciding whether we should uproot our current living situation and prepare to really settle down. Like many families living far from loved ones right now, being home without the ability to travel and not having access to childcare pushed us toward making a big change.
Maybe you’re one of the fellow families who also decided to make a big life change during the pandemic, or perhaps you’re still weighing your options. Here’s a little bit about why we decided to make the cross-country move from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast and how we feel about the decision now.
We Missed Our Community
Even though we’ve lived far from family for five years, the pandemic made us feel so much further away. Yes, we FaceTimed and Zoomed more than we ever had, but not having the option to jump on a plane to see loved ones really impacted how far away we felt. Since we weren’t driving distance from any close friends or family and didn’t feel safe boarding a plane, it often felt like we were on our own little island.
I know our friends and family who did live close to each other still couldn’t necessarily hang out inside and were isolating, but they could do drive-bys, form their own pods, or have outdoor socially distant hangouts. These were not options for us. During the time we’ve lived far from family, we’ve always made it a priority to visit people on the East Coast and welcomed visitors into our home regularly. With these options suddenly cut off with no end in sight, we started to feel the pull to move closer to our community, all of which happened to be across the country from us.
We Needed Support
Like many other families, juggling caring for young children and work was a tough balancing act to figure out. With a part-time work schedule, I had been able to care for our toddler and work while my husband worked full-time and helped when he could. While doable, it didn’t feel sustainable. It became our regular routine to work at night and on weekends, which is OK for some stretch of time but isn’t a great way to live in the long term.
We already felt stretched so thin that adding another baby to the mix while remaining in our current set-up seemed like it would be impossible.
Once we found out I was pregnant (mid-pandemic) and would have a second baby joining our family, our decision felt simple. Though it’s possible to care for two under 2 without help, we asked ourselves whether that really was what we wanted. We already felt stretched so thin that adding another baby to the mix while remaining in our current set-up seemed like it would be impossible. I couldn’t imagine going through my entire pregnancy and the newborn phase without seeing loved ones.
We Craved Some Stability
There has been a lot of uncertainty and many unknowns during the past year. With so much out of our control, it felt empowering to be able to make the decision to move and find a place to settle down. Since we had been moving around every one to two years, we never felt truly settled. By making the move to be closer to family, it felt like the first step to actually building our future. We hoped to buy a house, reconnect with our East Coast friends while making new ones, and prepare to be in one place for a long time.
How We’re Feeling Now
Our move happened about six weeks ago via an eight-day cross-country drive. We’ve had mixed feelings ever since. On the one hand, we loved so much about where we had been living and often reminisce about the beauty and calmness of the Pacific Northwest—very different from our new home in the Washington, D.C. area. (Also, did you know that Portland has basically no humidity, no mosquitos, and rarely any snowstorms or below freezing weather? It’s not a bad place to be.) Some days I think we’ve made a terrible mistake.
On the other hand though, we know there is so much on the East Coast to be thankful for. Though the pandemic is a temporary situation, it made us reevaluate our priorities and what is important to us in the long-term. While we love adventure, living in new places, and the West Coast lifestyle (and weather), the pandemic and the distance from our loved ones made us realize that being close to our community and support system was even more important.
We’re still settling in, house hunting, and preparing for a new baby. We have a long way to go in making this feel like home, but it feels good to have taken the first big jump into this life change.
The pandemic has made parents and families ask what’s most important in their lives and, in some cases, has been a push to make big changes in favor of new priorities. For some, it’s moving; for others, it’s changing jobs, reflecting on relationships, or a number of other important factors in life. If you’re considering a big life change during the pandemic, here are a few things to ask yourself:
- Is this a temporary change you want because of the tough circumstances or something that will make you happy long-term?
- Would you make the same decision if there was no pandemic?
- How will this change positively and negatively impact yourself and your family?
Making life changes during such a challenging and confusing time isn’t easy, but for my family, it was the push we needed to take a big leap.
Read More: 4 Helpful Tips for Moving With a Toddler