Living away from family and friends — The Bump
Military Families

Living away from family and friends

Hello,

I'm looking for some tips from any of you on how to handle having a baby when all of your family and close friends live far away. My husband and I recently PCS'd to Las Vegas and are expecting our first baby in April. Most of our family and friends live in the Midwest or Northeast. Our families will come visit a couple weeks after the baby is born, so it will be just the two of us until then.

I keep hearing from others about how integral their baby's grandparents, aunts and uncles are in their lives, and it makes me concerned that our child won't see family that often. Does anyone have suggestions on making this easier, or for developing a better support system in your current location? I've tried to attend spouses' events and things like that, but it's just so hard to move past small talk with the other wives and develop real friendships.

Also, for those of you also without family close by, how do you handle working? I would ideally like to work part time, but I just don't know how to make it worth it financially with how much daycare costs.

Thanks!

Re: Living away from family and friends

  • I just moved from AZ to MA 8 mos pregnant so I am going through this now. I got a doula to help me from Operation Special Delivery. I highly recommend. Also, go to your base and ask around at family services and support, there are lots of programs. I'm working on getting into some. Even the YMCA gives spouses who are alone memberships.

    Grandparents and extended family is nice, but I was raised military and didn't meet my grandparents until I was seven or older and I turned out okay. I didn't meet my aunt and uncles til well after that. I have no cousins so none to meet.

    If you and your husband are a good team and you help your kid with activities and play groups, who's to say they'll be less of a person because you were away from  your extended family? I don't remember missing mine, my parents kept us busy on and off base in any country we were stationed in.

    Take care of you too though. Get busy with something while you're counting down the days til hubs comes home. 56 days until I get to see mine before we have to be apart again, but at least I'll see him :) 

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  • We had DD1 while living in Germany.  She's 20 months old now and has met one set of granparents once when she was born and another set of grandparents twice, once when she was born and once when she was 18 months old.  She still hasn't met the other 2 sets of grandparents or any other family members.  We do Skype a lot and as she gets older she'll be able to talk on the phone.  But honestly being away from family has never been a negative to us.  DH and I have a strong relationship with DD and we make sure she gets involved with things on post.  I know growing up with your extended family nearby is the norm, but I don't think it's a necessity.

     I joined a New Parent Support Program through the Army while we were in Germany and made some great life-long friends there!  Not sure if you have anything like that where you are though.

     

    ETA:  We now live in South Carolina 17 hours away from our families in Texas.  DD2 is due in January and will not be meeting most of the family for quite a while either.

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  • Have you tried meetup.com for new moms groups, or soon to be moms groups? Making friends in the area you are in now is really a key thing. 
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  • When I was a kid, we lived pretty far from my family for awhile, so I guess I'm used to it. It would be nice to be near family, but that is not the life I chose when I married DH.

    When we had spouse get togethers early in my pregnancy, I intentionally sought out the other pregnant ladies. Talking about pregnancy and babies is a really easy way to get discussion going and move past small talk.

    And after moving quite often throughout my whole life, I've discovered that I usually have to be the one to take the initiative to build relationships. That's hard for me because that's not my personality. So I push myself to get involved with things that interest me and look for people who would be good friends - craft activities on base, parenting classes on base, church, etc.

    I told my parents to sign up for Skype, but they haven't. Meh...whatever. Their loss. I talk to my mom on the phone a couple of times a week, we email a little bit, and that's what she wants. She gets pictures from Facebook. I don't have the sanity to give my parents Skype lessons. My ILs get left out more since they don't get on FB often, but I tell DH that he needs to be responsible for keeping his family involved. I email them to make sure they know important stuff, but that's about it.

    I'm not sure about work. The CDCs on base are much more affordable than off-base (at least where we live). I was going to work part-time and we had our spot at the CDC, but then we found out we'd be leaving 6 months early, and getting a job just didn't work out.

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  • Skype is the most marvellous invention ever for extended families who live far apart.  My kids "see" their grandparents every weekend and have very close relationships with them as a result.  Definitely get your families to sign up for it (it's free) and start Skyping often.

    As far as friends go, give it time.  Do seek out groups via the base and Meetup (taking classes is also a great way to meet like-minded people) but it takes awhile to develop real friendships.  Don't give up just because none have panned out yet. 

  • I have never had any visitors when my kids were born. Our families live 1000 miles away. Would it be nice to have family closer at times? Sure. But, I am a more independent and self-assured mother because I've found my own way. It'd be nice to have a babysitter sometimes, but otherwise, we find other ways for our kids to know our family back home.
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  • I am in Vegas I used to live here so I have some friends and my two older kids. My husband is gone often too he is Navy but I moved to be closer to my older kids. But I hate Vegas hubby was even talking about driving me to Balboa so our baby won't be born in Vegas. I haven't seen dr yet I am almost 6 weeks. How are they? 

    You should get on waiting list for base daycare but if you live far you might pay the savings in gas. I would baby sit :) hubby said I should but afraid parents my freak at my mini horse sized dog.

    But daycare is hard especially as babies I didn't let mine go till they could talk at least a little. Now mine are older 12 and 9 but day care cost me about 150 a week 7 years ago.  

     

  • I haven't lived near family since I was 18 year old.  Our parents don't live too terribly far away (about 500 miles) and we've made it work.  Our children usually see all of their grandparents 2-4 times a year.  Sometimes they visit here (usually), and sometimes we go there (rarely). Around 2, my kids understood and were familiar with their grandparents and they are used to the fact that we only see them a few times a year. 

    I am the youngest of 6 children in my family.  I was still pretty young when my older siblings were having babies of their own.  My parents loved their grandchildren, but they were never regular babysitters of them.  My siblings either had a SAH parent in the relationship, or they secured daycare for my nieces and nephews.  I was actually confused when I became an adult and realized a lot of people depend on the grandparents for daycare.  It's just not how I grew up or was raised. I only remember being cared for by my own grandparents a time or two when my parents were really in a bind with work and I was sick or something and couldn't go to daycare.

    On two separate occasions I have been a SAHM for a few months.  For about 3 years I worked a full-time job while my kid(s) went to daycare.  It was all on my schedule as I couldn't always depend on my H to be around because of being in the military.  I dropped them off and picked them up 99% of the time.  Now, I work 2 part-time jobs.  I work in a YMCA daycare for about 20 hours a week in the mornings and my kids come with me at no cost.  I also teach dance 2 evenings a week.  For that one, it's a mixture between them coming with me, getting a babysitter, or my H being able to watch them.  It's definitely a juggling act, but I love teaching so I put up with that stress.  I'm paid well so paying for a babysitter isn't a loss for me.  DH says even if I made nothing though, I should still do it since I love it that much. 

    Adrian 7.6.07 - ADHD, Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Learning Disability-NOS
    Cam 6.6.10 - Autism, Global Developmental Delay, Mixed Receptive/Expressive Communication Disorder
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