We moved from Australia to New Zealand in January for one year. It’s a big move for a family of six for a short period of time. During all the packing, organising, moving and resettling (including kids crying and missing home), there were times I thought we must be mad. Crazy! I looked at my husband and questioned, “Did we make a mistake?”
The last couple of years have taken a toll on our family unit. One of the main reasons was the impact of my husband’s work hours. My husband wrote a little about it here. It’s a slow fade. Cracks form. After a while they become gaps when you don’t have the time to do the maintenance. It can be easy to focus on the children’s behaviour during those times (I wrote a little about that too), but so very often, behaviour is the tip of the iceberg, and the result of these gaps somewhere.
We knew something needed to change or the cracks would be so much harder to fill, even irreparable. There were many different options for work opportunities in Australia for my husband, and these, perhaps, would have made more sense if we were thinking financially and practically. However, we decided on a drastic change and my husband found, applied and accepted a position that would take us to Auckland.
Once we committed to the change, I googled like a mad woman and discovered a furnished house in a beautiful area. I focused on an area with good schools, and beautiful nature nearby. We found something wonderful.
We threw out or gave away over 3 tonnes of stuff.
The rest went into storage. We left Australia with six suitcases and anything we could fit in them. That meant about 4 toys and 2 books for each of the kids (with a few snuck into their plane backpacks).
Matt and I resolved to make this year about experiences, not stuff. To invest in the right places and repair those cracks with vigour, and togetherness, and love.
I get up early before the kids each school morning. I make them breakfast. Different days mean a different menu: we eat pancakes, fried egg, dippy egg, scrambled egg, bacon and the traditional toast and cereal. We explore as a family most weekends: to rainforests, and beaches, and waterfalls; to the city and country. After school, we sometimes go to the beach and make sandcastles until the sun goes down. We all walk more on our different journeys each day. My son and I wander down to the garden. He cuts silverbeet and I hold the bunches. Then I throw it into a pie for dinner. The kids eat blueberries and strawberries from the backyard before dinner. My husband gets home from work and comes in with armfuls of apples and spontaneously makes an apple pie.
These are all very good things.
It takes time for the impact of change to trickle through. There have been amazing highs and deep lows. Eight weeks have passed, and as my husband and I lay on the grass watching the kids play in the sand and water nearby, I turned to him and said, “I feel so so happy right now.”
We are happier because we have much, much less stuff. There is even less washing because we only have so many clothes! The house is easier to keep tidy because there are less toys to pack away. We use less dishes and the kids have an allocated coloured cup to use each day. We are happier because we all move more. Not because we are ‘exercising’ but because moving is just part of our day. I walk the younger kids to and from school through a section of forest. The older girls love the independence of walking to and from the bus each day. I kiss them goodbye of a morning and say, “See you when you get home this afternoon!” We enjoy the freedom that comes from having less ties. It means we can just drop everything and go outside to see and experience beautiful things.
Most of all, we are together more, and this year is a precious one for that reason.
As time goes on, I see the investment making positive changes in our family, and I’m so very grateful we threw ourselves bravely into this change. We’re making the most of it.