It’s been a little over two years since we moved from Sydney, to the Yass Valley. Although we weren’t able to move straight onto our property (it took two years to get the house, water tank, septic system and various other necessities built), we have lived in a rural area all this time. So do we regret out move? I think in order to answer this we have to look at in relation to the main reasons why we moved.
My husband and I both had jobs where we worked incredible hours. I was usually at work by 7:30am and often didn’t leave until after 5:30pm. I then took home a lot of work. For half the year I also worked half of Saturday. That would be ok if my salary matched my hours. Even with the extended ‘holidays’ that teachers get, most of that time disappears between professional development, planning (it’s impossible to plan programs, lessons and assessments when you are supposed to be teaching the 25 or so cherubs in front of you – so this all gets done in the holidays) as well as all the other odds and ends of teaching. I think people forget how much administration there is in teaching and that admin simply can’t be done with students in front of you. Anyhow. Long story short – we were working more hours than we intended. This became really apparent when we had our daughter. Once you factor in our ridiculous travel time to and from work (we didn’t live that far away – but you know Sydney traffic) my husband effectively never saw our daughter during the week. That wasn’t how we envisaged raising our children.
When we moved, I didn’t have to work for the first eighteen months of my son’s life. So they got a lot more of my time than they would’ve, had we stayed in Sydney… although one could argue that may not have been a good thing!! But that also came at a cost. My husband couldn’t find work anywhere near his skill level when we first moved. So for eight months he travelled back to Sydney Monday-Friday… So they might have got more of me but they lost a lot of their dad time.
Now things have settled. My husband and I have both found jobs in Canberra. My husband has taken a big pay cut to have the stability of a permanent job, rather than a contract. Me? Well moving meant that I had to take a teaching job, rather than the executive level position I held in Sydney. So I’ve taken a huge drop in pay too. Why am I no longer an executive? Well that’s a long and complex answer. But to try and simplify it – My daughter starts school next year, so I’d rather work as a teacher at the school I’d like her to attend, than as an executive in a school I wouldn’t want her to attend. So I’m working at this awesome school… even though it means a huge drop in income. That was the decision we made as a family.
But money isn’t everything. We now all go to daycare/pre-school/work within three blocks of each other. That means we take one car to and from home. Canberra seems to pride itself on being family friendly. My husband is able to drop my daughter off at pre-school. As I go to work 40minutes earlier than she starts pre-school, they hang out in a park together for some daddy/daughter time. I don’t think that would ever have been possible in Sydney. My son’s daycare is next-door to where I work. So, if I wanted to, I could choose to pick him up and have him play beside me while I finish my work. It’s difficult to put a price on this convenience. Most afternoons I manage to collect the children by 4:30pm too, which puts us all in good stead to be home by dinner time, so we can eat as family. And my weekends? My weekends are spent with my children. No Saturday sport for me unless it’s for my children. That is a huge plus.
What traffic? Occasionally we get stuck behind a cattle truck. That can be annoying but it isn’t long until we get an overtaking lane. Essentially we still take 40-50 minutes to get to work but our views out the car window are what you see in the picture below. I much prefer those views.
A simpler life
Ok. This was naive. I don’t think life is ever simple. I think we’ve just swapped one set of problems for a more preferable set of problems. However how we spend our time as a family has changed dramatically. In Sydney we spent a lot of time in the car, in traffic, trying to get where we wanted to go, or trying to find a park once we got there. Even going one suburb away to the shops was a pain. And everywhere was crowded. Now… once we get to Canberra, everywhere is only 5-15 minutes from everywhere else. We spend our weekends going to amazing art galleries, innumerable museums, fantastic festivals, so many geared to families. And the crowds? Well, there can be crowds, but they are few and far between. And when we aren’t in Canberra? We might be going to a local festival, a rodeo, or hanging out at home. Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we love it. Hopefully things will only get better as the children get older. We’ll add to our little farm, a vegetable garden here, a chook shed there, some blackberry and raspberry bushes… some cows and maybe some chickens. Who knows? How complex we make our little life is up to us.
A better life for our children
This one is in a state of flux at the moment. Whilst our daughter has now begun to make some great friends, our move meant we moved away, from what I would call, the best mother’s group ever. While we still catch up with them ‘virtually’ and some of them have even visited us and we try to get up to visit them… it is difficult to see their excited posts in our Facebook group from their regular catchups and organised outings to concerts, etc and know that I’ve taken her away from that brilliant, supportive group of friends.
We do love our little world we are creating from them. Last week, when we were eating lamb, our four year old daughter said, “So did the farmer kill the baby sheep, then cut it up and put it into little boxes for us to buy?” They are growing up with an awareness of where their food comes from, an appreciation of the process and a connection with the land and weather that we never had. By living in the country, but going to school in the city, they seem to be getting quite a broad view of things. We can already see some of the benefits. I’m hoping that they will love this life as much as we do. But I think this section will be difficult to answer until they’re a little older.
And it’s Tuesday – which means I’ve linked up with Jess for I blog on Tuesday. Check out all the other great blogs!