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It Really Does Take a Village

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

Raising kids is hard work. Actually, it's really hard work.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting for the first time, immediately we started thinking, We should move closer to our families. It was the best decision we ever made. Initially and admittedly, we did it to have those over-eager babysitters in place, but since that time, it has evolved into so much more than that. Being close to our families has been one of the biggest joys in our lives, and in our kids' lives as well.

I grew up with little to no extended family around. We would get the occasional visitor from overseas every couple of years, and my grandmother would visit annually to keep her Green Card active, but aside from that, our holidays primarily consisted of the four members of my family. I was envious of my friends who had the big, raucous holiday celebrations and family gatherings. Our quiet Thanksgiving foursome, while lovely, seemed so muted in comparison.

Fast forward to today, with our three kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles around, and I now relish every family gathering, every big sports game we convene at and every birthday celebration. Not only do I feel so lucky to have such a strong support system around, but I'm also so thankful for the relationships my kids have with their grandparents and extended family. That's something I never had the pleasure of experiencing myself.

And I'm not going to lie-the help is wonderful, too. My parents have been the only way that my husband and I have been able to sneak away for the celebratory night away or mini adult vacations. Three days of kid-free time? Thank you, Grandparents! Taking the kids to see that animated Pixar movie for the fourth time? Thank you, Auntie!

Between family and the wonderful friends we have, many of whom we have met because of our kids, I've come to realize how important it is to have a support system in place. Having people to rely on, vent to, ask questions to and experience all the joys of having kids with makes a really difficult job so much easier.

And the adult-only nights away every blue moon certainly don't hurt, either.

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