We’ve daydreamed about it for years. We’ve wistfully talked about what it would be like. “Someday,…” “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could…”
On every road trip, every vacation, we’d be driving home and I would look to my husband and say, “I don’t want to go home. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this full-time? We could live in the RV and just travel year round: one long adventure.”
But, alas- work, family, and life commitments and responsibilities pulled us back to reality and back to West Virginia. My husband was back to 65 hour work weeks. I was back to managing our household. Going through the motions of the average American family: work, school, housework, dinner, sleep, repeat. We were on a loop. My husband leaves for work at 4:30am and commutes to a job about 45 minutes away. On a good day, he’s home by 5:30 or 6pm. So, we see him about 3 hours a day. I homeschool our kids full-time and have a couple side hustles to bring in extra money. I have an Etsy store and I babysit three days a week. Overall, we are happy. But, we want more.
Not more money. Definitely not more stuff.
We want time.
About ten years ago, we made a radical shift in our family. At that time, I was working a full-time job with a 45 minute commute as well. I was a registered dental hygienist and seated my first patient at 7 am. This meant, at 5:15am, I was diapering and dressing my twins and packing their bag for daycare. My husband was packing lunches and making breakfasts for the road. We’d share a quick kiss and part ways for the day. The kids would commute with me to Maryland where I would drop them off at daycare and head to work. My son would cry every morning. “Stay with me today” “I want you. Don’t leave.” I would pry his chubby little fingers from my leg, give him kisses, and leave for work. Big crocodile tears running down his cheeks, “Mommy, don’t go.” Around 5:30, I’d return to a boy happy to see his momma and a disappointed little girl. My little girl would cling to her beloved daycare provider and announce that she would “just stay with Ms. Donna.” I would promptly pry her chubby fingers from Ms. Donna’s leg while she cried that she didn’t want to go with me. We’d pack up bags, buckle into car seats, and head home. My husband had usually started dinner by this point. We’d sit at the table, talk about our days, and then start the evening routine: clear the table, dishes, bath time, pajamas, stories, bed. Often, I’d fall asleep in the nursery. I was exhausted. I missed my kids. My marriage was strained. Our house was always a wreck. family time was about 2 hours a day. During that time, we basically fed, bathed, and put our kids to bed. That was the extent of our parenting on most days. I wanted more.
Not more money. Definitely not more stuff.
I wanted time.
Time- real quality time. Our days off work were spent trying to catch up on housework, laundry, mowing the grass, oil changes, etc. I remember staying up really late one night just to read the paper and share a bowl of watermelon with my husband and talk. Like, have a real conversation about thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Not, “Did you pay the cell-phone bill?” “We’re out of milk.” “Have you seen Blankie-Bear?” We sat and had a real conversation. And, it felt like a day at the spa. I remember one day, getting home before dark because my last patients of the day canceled. I played in a warm rain with my toddlers and we splashed in puddles. It made me so happy, I cried.
I was desperate for these moments. I needed more time with my family. Unhurried…real… quality time. I didn’t want the daycare lady (as much as we loved and appreciated her) raising my kids. I wanted to do it.
So, we made a plan. We restructured our bills. And, then we jumped. I quit my job- a good-paying, benefits and pension included job. A job that I had spent years training and studying for. A job where I made more money than my partner. It felt like we had jumped off a cliff and we were waiting to see if our parachute was going to open. It was hard. It was scary. It was a big adjustment. But, eventually it worked. I started homeschooling the twins. Our house was actually clean. All the errands my husband could never seem to get to? I had time now to help. So, he could actually have some downtime on the weekends. I taught my kids how to read. Sometimes, we drove to my husband’s office and had peanut butter sandwiches together on his lunch break. On the weekends, we went fishing. Life was pretty good. For me anyway.
My husband was pretty miserable at his job. It was terribly stressful to be in banking during and after a major recession. Repossessions, customer bankruptcies, new management…his blood pressure was soaring. I encouraged him to make a change. I was really happy now and I wanted him to be too. He ended up finding a new sales job where the stress level was much lower and his compensation was much higher. But, as with everything in life, there’s a trade off. He gained a better work environment and pay structure. But, he also gained a longer commute, more working hours, and a lot less vacation time.
We have more money. We have more stuff. But, it comes down to that priceless want again- time.
I want my husband to have more than a couple hours a day with our kids and with me. When I stop and think about it we have about 6 summers left with our kids. At that point, they’re going to be going away to college, getting summer jobs, and starting to venture out on their own lives. Six summers. We’re running out of time. We won’t get that time back.
It’s time to jump again.
We have a plan. We’re restructuring our bills. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be an adjustment. People are going to think we are absolutely crazy. But, we’re ready to make our daydreams a reality. To prioritize time. Follow along…