Our goals for Clementine Daily are ever evolving (as are we as women!) and thus we decided it was time to expand our content to include a glimpse into the myriad of family life: the joys and triumphs, the trials and tribulations of motherhood and family dynamics in their many forms. We hope you enjoy this next phase and please let us know what would inspire you to know, learn, and read - we would love your feedback!
And now, without further ado, we are pleased to introduce and welcome the newest member of our team: Lindsay Meyer-Harley, Family Editor. As a mother of two and a small business owner (of online shop Darling Clementine, as fate would have it), we know you will enjoy her wisdom, tips and positive vibes as she dishes on life with littles. First up: how to move cross country as a family of 4 - it's just the beginning of much more goodness to come!
Hello! It’s so great to be here as the new Family Editor of Clementine Daily. Let me introduce myself, I’m Lindsay Meyer-Harley. I am a mother of two (Juliette, 6-years-old and Jack, 2-years-old), married to my best friend (Kevin) and I own and run Darling Clementine, a children’s shop that’s been going strong since 2011. I grew up all over the world: New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Rome and finally settled in New York City in 2000 for college at The New School. I met my husband there, had both of my children there and just recently (last July) made the heartbreaking and equally exciting decision to uproot out family of four and move across the country to Portland, Oregon. To say it’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions is an understatement - I thought I would delve a little deeper on the subject with you all. It’s an emotional one, are you with me?
New York City was home, and it was amazing, but as many can understand it was getting too expensive (1 bedrooms in our Brooklyn neighborhood average $2500+). We knew this as the years went on, as we talked about having a second baby and as we saw our friends moving out of town left and right. But we were committed to sticking it out and wanted to stay in this magic city we loved so much. Then things got real -school overcrowding was the final straw for me. I watched my then pre-kindergartener accepted into our 4th choice school, where the wait list topped over 500. I saw this as a metaphorical slap across the face: what were we doing here? Staying because it’s OUR favorite city, OUR home? What would our children’s education look like if we stuck around? We’d be constantly shuffling them around trying to better the situation.
I admit, I got angry, really angry . I wanted to stay and have it all, it was New York City for goodness sakes! If you can't have it all here, where could you have it? We dismissed moving to the suburbs immediately, almost without a single conversation. It was just not a good fit for our family - we thrive on the energy, noise and activity of a city. Then we began seeking out cities that could lure us away, we hopped on a plane to Portland, to feel it out and see if we could make it our next hometown. We fell in love with it! The green everywhere, the clean air, the food (the food!) - it all added up to our next chapter.
A year passed while we organized, job hunted, researched neighborhoods and schools. We wanted to enjoy New York to its fullest and stay for that last year and not rush out in a hurry. It allowed the emotional transition to begin early. It also made it harder—knowing we were leaving is something that became a weight we carried, only getting heavier as we got closer to our move date. We kept this move a secret from our 6-year-old (and obviously our then 1-year-old) to not burden her with the emotions of it all too early. Thank goodness we did, as it was a huge conversation and a lot for her to comprehend.
A child doesn’t grasp distance, finances or reasoning the way adults do. To explain to her how far away we would in fact be was heartbreaking. To her we were simply moving to a new home, not a new city. I remember watching her face as she asked us questions about the move with a lump in my throat. I remember listening to her plan her birthday party with all of her New York friends (we moved in July, her 6th birthday was in September, and it was brutal) and I had to leave the room to cry. We were taking her away from her world, her everything, her grandparents. (Don’t even get my started on this one - by far the hardest part of the entire process!)
Jump ahead to the move itself, we focused on the exciting parts, and heck it was exciting! We were starting over and getting to discover a new city as a family. We chose to move during the summer and take the time to adjust before school began. I am thankful for the time we had to settle in, as we spent every day as a family attacking our to do list (which is of course endless when you have just moved!).
Though we enjoyed our summer of exploring it constantly felt like we were on an extended vacation, and we were going to pack up and go home any day. But then school began. Oh school. Thank goodness for the structure it gave our family, the community it introduced us to and the friends it gave our sweet Juliette who so badly missed her clan back in Brooklyn.
To watch your child watch other children playing and seeing how their eyes light up, then turn down out of shyness or nervousness is such a hard thing to experience. My normally bubbly confident girl was suddenly quiet. The first morning Kevin and I put her on the school bus (a bus for the first time!) and held back tears as the doors shut, we waited for her tears, and her face to contort into sadness through the window, but what happened next was unbelievable. She smiled, she smiled! It was going to be okay. We fell into each others' arms and walked back home with Jack to get on with our day, and get on with our lives here in Portland. It finally seemed okay to be here.
We just passed the six month mark of the move in January and things are really great. We have our moments of sadness and homesickness for New York City but that’s to be expected, right? Little by little Portland is feeling like home. We aren’t rushing it, we’re acknowledging our emotions as they come up and are assuring Juliette that it’s okay to be sad sometimes, to miss old friends and also to be happy to be here—it doesn’t take away from our memories of life back in New York.
I’d love to hear your moving tips if you’ve got them, as we’re still looking for new ways of dealing with the transition. But, in the meantime, I put together a few tips that helped us get through our cross-country journey:
Tell your kids how you feel. They should know that mom and dad are excited AND sad to be moving, it’s okay for them to see you vulnerable. But be sure to keep greater worries between the grown-ups, no need to shake their secure foundations.
Wait to share the news. We waited until about 2-3 months before moving day so there was no need for them to be constantly thinking about it (like you are) when they can just enjoy their life. Make sure the adults in their lives know you’re keeping the news a secret though!
Let them decorate their new space. Take it as an opportunity to redecorate or update their space. It’ll be a fun project for you all to get your mind off the hard parts of moving.
Ask for help from good friends. Give your address to friends and ask that they write lots of letters right away, so trips to the mailbox will be filled with messages of love from “home” for the first few months. Have your children share stories and adventures of their new city - postcards are especially fun and help them feel proud of their new life, instead of dwelling on missing friends and previous surroundings.
Have anniversaries with your family! Think a “1 month since we arrived!” ice cream party, or “we took the city subway for the first time” pizza lunch! Make exploring FUN, and congratulate each other on your new experiences.
p.s. Vacationing with babes soon? Don't miss our guide to traveling with kids!