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5 Reasons Raising a Kid in the Midwest Is the Best

Growing up, I felt like all the cool kids lived on the coast. It's not exactly glamorous to live in Middle America surrounded by a bunch of farmland, but that's exactly where I was raised. I never really felt like there was much to get excited about here in Missouri, but now that I'm a little older and raising kids of my own, I'm starting to see the appeal.

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1. Weather Galore

The biggest reason I feel I could never move away from the Midwest is that I would miss the drastic change of the seasons. In the summer it's hot enough to swim, in the winter there's enough snow to go sledding, and you get fed up enough with both seasons that spring and fall are always welcome. I love it that I can experience all this change with my kids and see their eyes light up when the first snowflake falls. I love that, starting around April, they will be asking if it's warm enough to go swimming yet (usually not until June). There's always something to look forward to. Yeah, the dog days of summer feel a little too hot and the deepest part of winter is a little too cold, but if that's the price I have to pay to enjoy all the excitement of shifting seasons with my family, then so be it.

2. Everything Is Slower

I grew up feeling like everyone I met was a potential friend, and I can see the same thing in my kindergartner. It's a beautiful way to view the world.

People smile and wave around here. Even when driving past them on the road, strangers will give you the ol' one-index-finger-lifted-from-the-steering-wheel wave and nod. Standing in the checkout line, someone is likely to strike up a conversation with you, and neighbors talk across fences. My town isn't especially small, but it feels like a small town because that's just how we roll here in the Midwest. I grew up feeling like everyone I met was a potential friend, and I can see the same thing in my kindergartner. It's a beautiful way to view the world.

3. The Landscape

You don't have to look far to find a good climbing tree, a pile of leaves to jump in or a patch of picnic-perfect fluffy grass. It's not too swampy and not too sandy. Far from the hurricanes and (usually) earthquakes, the only serious meteorological danger here is the occasional tornado, but I've lived here for over 30 years and never actually seen one. As a child, I loved the adrenaline rush of a good Missouri lightning storm, and as I've traveled more, I've learned that Midwestern sunsets are especially vivid. We have mountains and rivers and lakes and prairies and forests—more nature than you can shake a stick at.

4. The Royals

If you're from Missouri or Kansas, you get to proudly claim the Royals as your home team. What's better than learning to love baseball in the presence of the ultimate baseball comeback story? Sure, there are other Midwestern teams you could claim, but why do that? Also, the Chiefs did well this year, despite their history of breaking our hearts. In my childhood they represented a valuable lesson in loyalty despite hardship. (Which is great, but it's way more fun when they don't suck, of course.)

5. Only a Road Trip Away

If you like to travel, then being located in the middle of the country certainly has its benefits. You can road trip anywhere in the country in a day or two, and you'll never have to fly more than a few hours within the States. It's a huge perk especially if you are traveling with young kids. Because three hours on a plane is more than enough.

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Don't get me wrong; I love me some beach time. I travel to the coast every chance I get. But the Midwest offers its own charms, and I'm a better person for having grown up here. I'm glad my kids will be able to say the same.

Photograph by: Sarah Kovac

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