International Sea Change

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?”

We didn’t.

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.

Three. Tonnes.

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.

New Zealand Sea Change

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  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 10:09 am

    i am so happy for you all ,I love that you are able to spend more time together,
    These days will be forever in the children’s precious memories,
    As you know Kelly when you went OS with your Mum and Dad ,
    I am so envious of your garden ,it inspires me to do more with mine ,
    Love you all ,cherish every moment,Love Nanny,????????????

    • Reply
      Kelly - Be A Fun Mum
      March 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Yes, I’ve thought about that time often. Matt also went overseas to live as a child, and we both have such good memories from those times. Love you xx

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 10:46 am

    So glad to hear and see you’re enjoyment! You look so relaxed too, which must be wonderful for you all. Last year when we decided to move our family to Hervey Bay (not as far as another country!) but away from all our friends and family, it was a big decision too, but I have to say the pros far outweigh the cons for us. Yes we miss our family being only a block away (free babysitters!), but there are still many phone calls, text messages and skype and visits. For us, we are enjoying the small town, the lovely community, and most of all just being ‘us’, not ‘oh, you’re so and so’s sister/brother/aunty etc’ (not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s just nice to just be ourselves) And also, having the smaller school, means there is more chance to get to know the teachers of my kids and get involved and also get extra help that they need. I am jealous of your lovely garden though, just a little 🙂

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    What a fantastic read and how brave you all are! Welcome to NZ, glad to hear you are enjoying the place I love to all home and hope we are making you welcome! We came home from Aus just over a year ago with our two young boys and although sometimes the financial differences can be a struggle we have never looked back and love emerging the boys in the outdoor and kiwi laidback lifestyle.
    Taranaki is a wonderful place to visit should you feel the need to travel a bit further during one of your exploring moments! Best of luck for the remainder of your year here x

    • Reply
      Kelly - Be A Fun Mum
      March 7, 2015 at 6:27 am

      Oh, thank you for the recommendation. We’ve already covered so much ground and are always hungry to look at new places. I’ll add Taranaki to the list!

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    What an amazing adventure. Well done on being so brave and I wish you all an amazing year (from a longtime lurker)

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Oh Kelly, how wonderful! What a fantastic thing to do … for the kids and the parents! My husband’s company is starting an office in Christchurch and we have been (pie in the sky!) talking about moving over for a couple of years. Unfortunately two years is the ‘standard’ secondment. Anyway, I have sent your post to him as it is a wonderful incentive to think/talk more about a quick move OS for a couple of years.

    Hugs to you amazing lady!


  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    WOW – didn’t realise the move had happened. The Kiwi’s would be loving the socks off you guys 🙂
    Such a fabulous family. So glad you are keeping Be A Fun Mum going after the move. LOVE catching up on your inspiring posts Kelly. The Sunny Coast seemed a little quieter of late . . . now I know why.
    I hope the future is bright snugly and warm for you all. Hugs from the Sunny Coast 🙂

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    You look like your in Davenport. I love Piha and spent many uni days surfing there. We took our sons snowboarding in NZ and also went to Hobbiton in Matamata. Make sure you go to Hot Water Beach on Coromandel Pennisula. and please eat as many Rashuns as u can and drink lots of LnP for me please. I miss Aotearoa and my Maori tanga but love Perth too. It’s awesome to hear that your big family risk is paying off.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Wow, that looks like an amazing spot you’ve moved to. What a fantastic change for you. Well done for ‘just doing it”.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2015 at 7:30 am

    Sounds amazing!…thank you for sharing , so needed to read this as we may have to relocate to germany with 3 kids under 6years. The thought of being away from my family in a much smaller house sounds daunting; reading this gives me confidence that we can do it and it is an opportunity for us to focus on ‘us’.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2015 at 9:18 am

    This post makes me want to cry, Kelly! I can only imagine what it’s like to do this. We have moved five times (in 3 different countries) during our 8 years of marriage… but the past 3 years we have amazingly been in the same place. And it’s so scary to change with three young kids now, especially as it’s my first time feeling settled! But my husband finishes his exams at the end of the year, and come February we can go anywhere we want. We talk about it nearly every day and just CANNOT DECIDE – stay, move within Australia, move to one of the islands, or even move to the US (NZ is a possibility too, though spoken of less since we’ve already lived there…). I LOVE the idea of a massive change – something that requires us to only live from suitcases – but I’m a bit petrified. I look forward to following your journey and hearing your tips and experiences 🙂

  • Reply
    Jen Bishop
    April 23, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    I love this post and am so happy for you, Kelly! x

  • Reply
    May 7, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I’m so excited for you guys! Moving to another place is not easy but for you that change was for better, so I wish you to keep improving your lives with less stuff and more memories!

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