The Kids are Alright

As parents our job is to choose the very best pre-school and kindergarten for our little ones. We must make sure they get into the very best elementary and high school and that they excel at all aspects of their academics (Saturday math class anyone?) They must be on all the right sports teams, study music from an early age, have an extensive volunteer resume, and become the perfect college ready, well rounded individual.

Whoa, hold on! Who signed me up for all that? When did being a parent become about simply creating a perfect child?

I had a wonderful conversation with a colleague recently who described these pressures for our kids to excel as an ‘arms race’. It’s true. If you subscribe to this way of thinking, there will never be ‘good enough’ for our kids, there will always a new way to excel.

These ponderings about the arms race of childhood have been tied up lately with our planning for financial independence. As Mr. PIE and I plan our family’s move to our mountain home in the summer of 2018, first and foremost on our minds is “will the kids be alright?”

This is a very valid question. In fact while I was visiting my parents in the UK recently I came clean for the first time about our plans for financial independence and it’s concurrent lifestyle change. The first question from my mother was “what about the boys, will they be alright?”

Of course they will be all right. We wouldn’t be planning this change for our family if we believed there was going to be anything hugely detrimental for the kids, but of course we worry. It goes with the territory. It’s what parents do. Even so, there are several factors we have to take into account to make the transition as smooth and painless as possible. These are some of the things we have been thinking about:

How much should our small PIES know about our plan?

The simple answer to this is ‘not nothing’ but ‘not everything’. I can see the raised eyebrows already! What? We’re keeping important secrets like that from our kids?! Let me explain our thinking. At this age (7 and 9) even a week is a long time, and the ability to understand what life might look like in a couple of years is almost impossible. Right now we see no need to clearly state what life will look like in two years. We will have that conversation gradually, as the months go on. We’ve talked about it in general terms “how would you like to live in the mountains all the time?” “What about going to school here and making new friends?” “You could be on the school ski team!” The conversation had begun, but it’s in the early stages.

A major factor in this is wanting our kids to live for today and in the moment. We don’t want them to feel for a second that their current life is temporary.


Mr. PIE and I never moved house as children. We don’t know what it’s like to say goodbye to the place that you’ve always known as home and move somewhere new – not as children at least. For this reason, we can’t truly place ourselves in our kid’s shoes and understand what it means for them. What we do know is that our mountain home is also ‘home’ for them. They know and love the location, and are already familiar with the surrounding area. They are often sad when we have to return home after a weekend away, and we commonly hear “I wish we could stay here!”

A greater unknown is how they will deal with leaving behind friends and neighbors. Most of their friends are school based, yet they have a huge span of friends and acquaintances due to the fact they attend a (fantastic) YMCA after school program, and go to (amazing) YMCA summer camps. This has the potential to be hard for them.

I can offer them two things. Firstly, we won’t actually be that far away from old friends, so we can certainly still see them. Secondly, my very best friend who I have known since we were both 4, is now 3,500 miles away, and we’re still best buddies! Distance is nothing these days. Another advantage they will have is our ability to plan meet-ups with new friends and invite new friends over to play. Currently the crazy busyness that is our life with two parents working is not conducive to planning and attending play dates, or organizing get-togethers with friends. All too often, that type of thing slips to the bottom of the to do list. That can all be different with two ‘stay-at-home parents. I’m banking on kids being better at making new friends than adults are, and we’ll be there to help them along the way. To some extent we will all be in the same boat when it comes to the need to make new friends, and I’ll bet the kids will do better at it than mum and dad!




With the move to a new location in a new state comes a change of schools.

Let me set up a bit of background here about the philosophy Mr. PIE and I share about school and academics. We both hold strong academics and hard work in high regard. We wouldn’t be where we are today without hard work, study and college degrees. At the same time we have a desire for our children to avoid some of the ‘arms race’ of academic and extra curricular pressures we see around us. It is enough for us for our children to work hard, find what they personally enjoy and pursue it, and to have a well rounded education and life.

A couple of years ago Mr. PIE and I both read and enjoyed an article in Outside Magazine about a family in Vermont who ‘unschool’ their children – essentially let them learn by working on the family farm and pursuing their own desires with lots of free time to explore. While we are certainly not going to that extreme, the idea of free time for kids resonates with us. Even now, our kids are minimally scheduled outside of school. They play baseball in the spring, which is a large time commitment, but that’s it. This leaves us lots of time for skiing and hiking and generally enjoying the outdoors. Even when we’re just hanging out at home the small PIEs are generally outside on bikes, climbing trees or practicing baseball with the neighbors.

But I digress from school.

The town we currently live in is very large, and we had a choice of 7 elementary schools when our eldest small PIE started kindergarten. However, we didn’t choose the town we live in based on schools. Mr. PIE and I lived here long before we had kids, and while there are (much more expensive) towns nearby with ‘better’ schools, we have been very happy with the choice we have made and our kids are progressing well.

As for the location of our mountain home, we definitely didn’t choose that based on schools. It was simply a vacation home to begin with, and again schools were not a factor in our decision-making. Having taken a look at the school options in the area, we are satisfied that they will be just fine. We are firm believers that a good baseline of education coupled with strong parental involvement is equal to the quality of learning that could be found at a highly ranked or private school, and the arms race that can ensue.

We have chosen the summer of 2018 as our ‘move to the mountains’ date. Mr. PIE detailed some of our considerations in a recent post. This is when our oldest small PIE will have finished elementary school, and will be ready to move onto 6th grade in a new location. Our smallest PIE will be leaving elementary school after 3rd grade, which hopefully will be a relatively easy time to move.

That leads me into what we hope will be the biggest advantage for our kids – two ‘at home’ parents


Non-working parents

When our oldest small PIE started kindergarten I had a vision, a hope you might say – for the level of involvement Mr. PIE and I would have with the school. We’d be on the PTO, know all the teachers, chaperone the field trips, and generally be useful and well known. I think you know where I’m going with this. It didn’t happen. With commutes, our smallest PIE still in daycare and the general exhaustion that comes with small children and two working parents, attending an evening PTO meeting was low on the list. I’ve managed to chaperone one trip in 4 years.

All too regularly of late, the small PIEs have come home from school with fliers for various before school or after school clubs they would like to be involved in. While they have managed to attend a couple of the after school clubs (thanks to our fabulous and flexible YMCA after school care), we have sadly had to say no to the before school clubs. We physically can’t get them there at the right time.

These are example of some of the things were looking forward to changing as we become ‘stay at home’ parents. Heck, I’ll be the PTO chair! We will be generally useful and well known at school. We’ll be available to help with homework rather than rushing through it in the evening between dinner and bed. There will be time after school for work and play.

As we look forward to achieving FI, one of the things we crave is time. Our kids will gain this time too. We’ll have time at weekends to get involved in all the outdoor activities we desire. We’ll have time to let them follow their passions. We’ll have time to take a whole summer to travel together. We’re making some pretty important choices for our kids, and we think we’re choosing a pretty awesome childhood for them.

Sometimes, I feel I gotta get away
Bells chime, I know I gotta get away
And I know if I don’t, I’ll go out of my mind….

The Kids Are Alright. The Who (1966)

What are your future plans for you and your children. What will life look like? What’s today’s parental worry?


  1. First off, congrats on sharing the news with your parents. That’s a milestone in my opinion, I haven’t done that yet myself.

    Secondly, I think you are going about it right with your kids. They are still at a young enough age to move and easily make new friends and I definitely think it’ll be good for the whole family when you folks have your time free.

    Good for you, I’m excited for your FI plans!

    The Green Swan

    1. Thanks for the support Green Swan! I was surprised how relaxed my parents were about the whole idea. Maybe because they are retired and loving it.
      It really will be a complete change from 2 parents working, to no parents working. We’ll just have to be very careful not to become helicopter parents!

  2. This definitely resonates with me and my wife. Our son will be two in September and our plan, in about three years, is to move into an Airstream and hit the road full-time as I begin working as a traveling nurse. With regards to schooling, we intend to home school for at least a few years (even if we were to continue living where we are now.) We, of course, worry about what he may be missing out on, while at the same time believing wholeheartedly in the title of your post…The Kids Are Alright. We’re making huge decisions with immense impacts on his life and, in doing so, we are setting him up for an incredible childhood of travel, adventure, and hands-on, in-the-dirt learning. I think what is going to be important is to utilize the resources that will be at our disposal, network with other families (full-timer RV’ers or not,) and involve him in interactions with persons of all ages and walks of life.

    I especially like your mentioning of the “arms race.” While we may be worried that our decision to full-time on the road has the potential to be some sort of detriment to him, the fact is that putting him in any one of a million schools has that same potential.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your comments. It’s relatively easy to consider living a non-traditional life as adults, but rather harder to consider a non-traditional childhood for our kids. Non-traditional for them could be simply saying no to getting sucked into the arms race.
      The future you have planned for your son sounds fabulous. Hands on, in the dirt learning is where it’s at!

      1. It’s even a little hard to imagine a non-traditional life for ourselves 😐 lol!

        That being said, we’re really looking forward to it though. Without a doubt, there will be a massive learning curve with a ton of of bumps and bruises along the way; however, it’s also gonna be a helluva lotta fun! 😀

  3. Kudos that you put so much thinking on the impact of FI on your kids. And that you share it with us. For parents – we have 2 girls, 4 and 6 years old – kids are the most important asset. Our biggest worry is indeed: will they be alright. And for me alright means: will they be ready to deal with the world once they are 18. Not everybody is honest and can be trusted, not everything is fair, not everything is easy. Do they have the creativity and flexibility to find solutions. That is my worry.

    My sister recently moved while her kids were 10 and 8. At the start, it was a challenge. Now, they are integrated, attend a lot of birthday parties and have friends that come over and play.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I totally agree that ‘alright’ means being able to deal with the world. We are definitively responsible for some of the ‘grit’ our kids develop, and that can go a long way in getting on in life.
    I went to a very average high school, nothing special at all. One of the hard things about that is the huge cross section of society you have to deal with as a kid. That’s also one of the benefits. Our kids need to learn to deal with all types of people from all types of backgrounds.

  5. We discuss this a lot because the main things we have to think about is, what are the schools like? We have found some pretty awesome houses but then the elementary thru highschool are all ranked below a 4 on a 1-10 scale. Yipe!
    All that aside, we plan the same with being involved in PTO activites and other activities that (like you) we just don’t have the time and flexibility for right now. I see freinds that have their kids at the leading edge of the arms race and those poor kids are overscheduled like crazy. Seriously, 3-4 extracurricular activites each, and the parents and live in mother in law are just constantly shuttling them from one activity to the other. I would worry they don’t have enugh time for free play just making stuff up with their imagination out in the backyard or digging in the ground with a stick sort of activites. I think those kinds of free play imagination activites are way more important for development than having loads of extracurriculars going on.
    It’s a lot to think about and make sure that you’re not hosing them just due to your lifestyle choice. Like you guys, we’ve done what we can to allow for that and make sure our choices don’t interfere but I also agree that, the kids will be alright. 🙂

    1. Agreed. It’s a lot of responsibility and a lot to think about. It’s also a fine balance between wanting the best in terms of education and schools, and finding the best that works for everyone.

  6. Don’t got kids but as parents you guys are doing everything right to prepare them for success! Kids adapt very easily. They may not like the change at first but they will quickly grow into their new environment! Excited to see how your FI plans evolve as 2018 comes closer.

    1. Thanks Stefan! You’re right, we have to be aware that it’s not all going to be rosey re-situating the kids. We think it will be worth it though!

  7. Nice thoughtful article.

    As you probably know, we’re trying to have kids, but don’t have any yet 🙂

    I think you just have to do what feels best for you as parents (and your kids). They aren’t careers that you have to ‘progress’ – though lots of people treat them that way. They want love and attention, the ‘arms race’ that you refer to is not creating healthy-minded children.

    Just by wanting them to succeed (without pushing/forcing them into anything) will see them do well.

    What they do as older teenagers is much more important than anything they do now.


    1. Thanks for the comments! You’re right, we really want them to find their passions and have time to pursue them. If that means being a ski bum, that’s ok. Alright, ask me again if that really is ok if it actually happens 😉
      Crossing fingers for your trying😊

  8. I moved several times as a kid, and though the first move was traumatic for about five minutes, I quickly learned to adapt, and have realized since that moving around while young gave me quite a few skills that kids who never moved didn’t have: always being ready to make new friends, learning how to navigate new situations often, not getting homesick when I left for university, etc. So I think you’re actually doing your kids a service. Plus, as you said, distance is nothing these days!

    In our experience, schools in mountain towns are not great, but you guys will be so involved in their lives that I’m sure you can make up the difference. The hard part will be during the high school years when mountain town kids tend to fall into the same challenge that all small town kids do: not enough to do other than get into trouble. But again, you guys being at home, and hopefully getting them involved in lots of activities, can fill that void.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. These are all things we’ve thought about and continue to worry about! In an ideal world they will be busy as high schoolers volunteering with the AMC and teaching ski school. Gotta hope!

  9. That’s really cool how much thought you are putting into your decisions based on how it will affect your children. I can totally identify. Last year, my wife and I moved to a brand new house and I got a new job all so that we could be closer to the town where my kids go to school. It has changed all of our lives for the better; but they are especially happier!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, you’re right. We can make decisions for ourselves and how we want life to look, but ultimately it’s all about the kids. It’s our job to get it right for them.

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