real life

We packed up our whole family & moved to the other side of the world.

Allison

By ALLISON RUSHBY

All the sayings about change are positive.

Change always comes bearing gifts.

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

A change is as good as a holiday.

Well, I’d just like to say… bullshit. When you’re a mother with a very nicely honed nap, swimming lesson, playgroup, library time and grocery outing schedule, change is often something to be feared, not applauded.

Still, my husband and I dreamed that dream of change a few years ago.  Over and over again, we brought up the ‘moving overseas’ subject and then swiftly told ourselves it was too hard, it would put us too far behind financially, that it just wasn’t the sensible thing to do.

But then, staring down the barrel of 15 odd years of kiddie scheduling, we faltered.  Suddenly, a big serve of sensible didn’t look so appealing.  And, just like that, we revisited going overseas for a short stint.  What did we have to lose, after all (as it turned out, only thousands of dollars and our combined sanity…)?

Allison’s children exploring a new continent.

So, when my husband came home one day and gaily informed me he fancied applying for a job in Cambridgeshire in the UK in order to do some further medical training, it wasn’t entirely a surprise. Still, I did what any self-respecting mother would do…

I panicked.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like England. I loved England. And, being half English, I’d traveled there many times. In fact, I loved travel and, while it was no longer as easy with two kids in tow, I now spent many happy hours with my nose buried in travel memoirs instead.

It was always inspiring to be able to read about someone else’s amazing journey while you were stuck at home, making endless sandwiches for tardis-like lunch boxes…

However, the reality of doing something similar myself was extremely confronting. After all, there was one thing I’d noticed in every single one of those travel memoirs – none of them had included travel with children.

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I came up with every excuse under the sun now change looked like it might happen – it was too hard, the kids were happy at school, we needed to look into buying a house soon etc. (yes, yawn, boring, I know).

But my husband didn’t let up. In the end, we decided he would apply and just, ‘see what happened’. He did the interview via phone and claimed it went ‘terribly’ (I didn’t take too much heed in this considering the last exam he’d sat had gone ‘terribly’ and he’d won a medal on receiving his results).

Naturally, he got the job (cue: more panic). And we decided he should take it (cue: sitting in the corner, rocking back and forth).

A new adventure.

We began to tell people we would soon be off. I began to notice all the mothers I told said one of two things. Either I was ‘awfully brave’ to be making the journey (gulp, thanks), or that they’d love to do the same thing – that they’d dreamed about it, but didn’t think it would ever really happen for them.

Before long, we were off. And, oh, but our year in England and its surrounds was quite the ride. From researching a novel in London on the weekends, to school gate tiffs over children’s parties with infamous celebrity mother Sarah Burge, to accidentally killing a little girl’s hamster in Denmark (don’t ask) and a trip to a Norwegian hospital at 3am, it was certainly no Eat, Pray, Love or Lunch in Paris type fairytale.

We’re back home in Australia now and have bought that house and become super-sensible once more. So, looking back, was it worth it? Was it worth the hassle, the money, the time spent moving and the general upheaval in our lives?

Seriously, it almost pains me to say it, but yes. It wasn’t a seachange, or a treechange, but a mechange. And while I’m not about to start spouting quotes about butterflies, I know I am a better person for it (the Danish hamster, however? Well, not so much…).

Allison Rushby is an Australian author of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. Her latest release, Keep Calm and Carry Vegemite, is the tale of moving two kids and two parents to England for a year – some members rather reluctantly. You can find her website here.


If you were to do a change, even if it was just for a year, where would you go? What would you do?