Like a lot of other families, we recently completed Term 1 of the NSW school year. Only this year our first term has been very different to any other in the past nine years because we are travelling through Latin America. School, for the moment, has been replaced with laptops and tablets.
In June last year my husband, Gary, and I sold our house in Little Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, quit our jobs and bought a one way ticket to Mexico. We have two daughters, Amalia, just 12 and in Year 7, and Ruby, almost 10 and in Year 5.
The single biggest reason we decided to take this journey was to reconnect as a family and spend quality time with our kids. We arrived in Mexico in mid December 2015 and have spent the last four months traveling through Mexico and Cuba. Since the end of January both girls have been attending school online via the NSW Board of Studies Distance Education program.
Before we left Australia life was hectic. School hours aren’t really designed for families where two parents work, so there is the inevitable juggle of drop offs and pick ups and after school activities. Living in Sydney we were out of the house at 7:30am (or earlier) and home around 7 or 8pm most nights. Weekends involved sport, grocery shopping and cleaning, and there wasn’t much time in between for quality family time. We spent all our spare money on holidays where we could spend time together but it just wasn’t enough.
I know I am not the only mother who struggles with both the need to work (life is expensive) and desire to work (I actually love working), and the need and desire to spend more time with my kids. I felt like I was going to click my fingers and my daughters would be all grown up, and that I was going to miss the essence of that time because we were on the treadmill. I felt like time was running out before they weren’t going to need me so much any more, and that scared me.
Listen to Rachel talk to Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo in the latest episode of The Glorious Mess. (Post continues after audio.)
I wanted to have a relationship with my girls that was more than ‘shouty mummy’, who is always nagging about getting out of the house, cleaning teeth, finishing homework, and the rest. How the hell was I going to find more time so I could be the mum I had hoped I could be? The mum who, like my mum, managed to work AND teach me how to cook, how to sew, how to be a responsible citizen, and who is the person I can always talk to and rely on, no matter what.
When we sold our house suddenly all of a sudden everything fell into perspective. The need to work, at least for the short term, was reduced. Amalia was finishing primary school and I knew there was a small window before she needed me less and her friends more.
So we decided to take a different path and to invest the money in a new way. Rather than a different house with a bigger mortgage (and all the trappings), we opted to buy time with our kids and a set of experiences that in some ways money just can’t buy. A one way ticket to Mexico and a journey through Latin America.