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James Van Der Beek Shares What His Kids Miss Most About Their Hollywood Home & It’s a Tear-Jerker

Anyone who has moved — whether it’s down the street or across the globe — knows how bittersweet the experience is. There are new things on the horizon, but so much is left behind. And while packing can be nice and nostalgic, it’s also such a pain in the a**. In 2020, James Van Der Beek and his family moved from their Hollywood home to Austin, Texas, and his six kids still (understandably!) have some Big Feelings about it all.

“I mean, they still miss the tree that was in our backyard,” Van Der Beek tells SheKnows. “They named it. They talked about it yesterday that they do miss that tree.”

How sweet is that?! Three years later, they still have a place in their heart for the simple parts of their Los Angeles home. They still care for a tree they loved so much that they couldn’t just call it “that tree.”

“The tree’s name is Jeff,” the Dawson’s Creek star says.

And if you’re wondering if their new home in the Lone Star state has a Jeff, you’ll be sad to hear that it doesn’t. But there’s a good reason: “There’s only one Jeff.”

Ouch! There’s only one special Jeff for Van Der Beek’s kids — Olivia, 12, Joshua, 11, Annabel, 9, Emilia, 7, Gwendolyn, 4, and Jeremiah, 16 months — who he shares with his wife Kimberly Van Der Beek. And missing Jeff may sound silly, but Van Der Beek knows how important it is to respect his kids’ feelings in any situation.

“I just think listening and acknowledging and really letting them say how they’re feeling [is important],” he tells us. “As a parent, you always want your kid to be okay. But I think the more you can trust in the process of expressing any reservations they have, any fears they have, any sadness they have, and not bypassing that, I feel like is a pretty good plan.”

Along with taking acknowledging those feelings, Van Der Beek says there are other ways to make a move easier. Don’t do what he did, moving in and immediately having guests over. Oof! Take some time to adjust on your own. And take some time before the move to get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

“Otherwise it just finds its way to a corner or a closet and sits there for years, which is what we’re still dealing with.”

Stuffed corners and a Jeff-less yard aside, Van Der Beek says the move to Texas has been a “game changer” because his kids can just run out the door and play.  The kids are always making fairy houses, forts, and fires, and “there’s always something hanging from a tree somewhere.”

Imaginative play is something the Varsity Blues star really values: “It’s good for my kids physically and emotionally, and it’s good for our relationship.” It’s why he’s partnered with Quaker Chewy and their Take Your Child to Play campaign that encourages parents to engage in “focused, distraction-free play” with their kids. By taking a pledge to play for one hour together, families have a chance to win 100 boxes of Quaker Chewy.

“I love being able to promote this idea of really taking the time and scheduling play because parents are so busy,” Van Der Beek says. “If you don’t schedule it, something’s gonna pop up. Your priority should not be the thing that you cleaned or the tasks that you completed.”

“It’s the smile and the laughter and the time that you’re able to connect with the kid.”

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