If you know anything about me, it’s that I am incredibly close to my family. I talk to them incessantly, my sister and I have had an insanely close relationship since we were children, and they are undoubtedly the most important thing in the world to me.
When I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2015, it was a huge change – for all of us. I had gone to college in Connecticut a mere 40 minutes away from the town I grew up in, which allowed me to see my family whenever I wanted. Then, when I graduated from school, I lived at home with my parents (my sister was away at college) for two years, so I spent an abundance of time with them on a day-to-day basis. While living at home after school may not be for everyone, I am a huge advocate for it if your situation allows for you to do so (I will do a post about it soon). I loved being at home with my parents – probably because I consider them to be two of my best friends. For a long time, the idea of moving away from them and from my childhood home made me feel anxious and sad.
But I eventually grew out of that fear (kind of – still cried about the move a lot, including about a million times during our family vacation two weeks before I actually left) and realized that a big move was a good decision that would allow me to grow more on a personal level. I love living in Chicago, and the transition was far easier than I thought it would be when I first moved. And while much of my life has changed in the past two years, one thing has stayed the same: I still maintain a close relationship with my family, despite the distance.
I consider myself very lucky to be as close to my parents and sibling as I am. I’ve had multiple people tell me that they admire our closeness or are even jealous of it, which is a huge compliment. Honestly, I never feared that moving away would diminish the bond that all of us share, and I don’t want to say that it takes work to maintain our relationships, because that word has such a negative connotation to it. But it does take effort.
Below, I’m going to share some of my tips for how we maintain close relationships at a distance. However, I want to start with a disclaimer that this is what works for me and my family. No two families or sets of individuals are the same, so I’m not saying this is how everyone should conduct themselves or operate.
Talk as much as you can – I talk to my family as much as I can. My sister and I will g-chat during the day sporadically, just catching up on little things or sending each other funny Real Housewives GIFs. My mom and I talk on the phone at least once a day, usually during my commute home from work. We also will text during the day oftentimes and there are many days where I end up calling her more than once (usually with a question about cooking or cleaning).
During our daily phone conversations, we catch up on anything and everything: what funny videos we saw on Facebook today, what we are each making for dinner, and basically anything else that pops into our heads. I feel like all day, I am thinking “oh! I have to tell mom this later!” and sometimes I just won’t shut up when we finally have our chat (probably drives her a little crazy!). Our calls are undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of the day and I get so annoyed when she doesn’t answer or can’t talk when I call (how dare she?! ;)). I talk to my dad as much as I can, too – more through text or we will catch up when I’m on speaker when I call my mom. I love talking to all of them and if nothing else, I think being in constant communication is what keeps us closest. I always know what’s going on in all of their lives, so I don’t usually feel like I am missing out on anything even though we don’t see each other as much as we used to.
Value your time together – Since our time together is more limited now, it makes the time we all do have together that much more special. It’s relatively easy to get from Chicago to Connecticut (hundreds of flights from here to NYC every day!), so luckily I am able to go there quite a bit – even for just quick weekend trips. We also do family vacations together, which we all love and look forward to each year. When we are together, it’s always a blast and it’s like nothing has changed. We go out to eat, lounge around the house and watch tv and movies, play with our dogs, chat about hundreds thousands of different topics, cook together, go shopping, and laugh a lot. I always feel like from the moment I arrive home until the moment that I leave, I want to pack in as much time together as possible – yet it is never enough. I love all of the memories we create and we are INCREDIBLY lucky that we have so many memories to look back on as a family, too (I am very sentimental, which I get teased for by my dad and sister all the time). I was just recently in Connecticut and am already counting down the days until the next weekend together (less than a month to go!).
Realize it’s ok that things are different – I am not someone that particularly likes change in my life, so it can be hard for me to get over the fact that things are different now than they used to be. But accepting that life isn’t always going to be the same, even when it comes to the things that are the most important to you, makes it easier to move forward and ensure that you are putting the focus and effort into what needs and deserves the attention. While I am not currently physically close to my family, I’ve realized that’s okay, and I’ve also realized that our relationships are just as strong now (if not more so) than ever, despite the distance.
Mainly, it comes down to the fact that we value our close relationships with each other, so we’re more than wiling to put the effort into maintaining them. With that being said, though, it can be very easy to fall out of touch with people when you live far away (or even if you don’t!). For me, making important relationships a priority everyday is the key to staying close, and I am very thankful to have such strong bonds with my amazing family no matter where we all live.