Change is in the air: a little life update!

Hi! How are you all? As I write I’m in my office, but I’m sitting down on a super-comfy sofa, looking out some French doors at the garden outside. The doors are wide open so the sun can stream in across the floor, and it is just lovely to be here, to be honest. Or at least it was when I started writing this post…it’s been a hard one, written across several days, locations, and varying light levels.

A big change…

As I mentioned back in winter, we’ve been making some changes around here! The biggest one, and the one that kind of acted as a catalyst for quite a few other changes, is that I left my job at the end of July. It was a hard decision to hand in my notice. I loved my job, I loved my team, I was really good at it, and I was working at an important place that I grew up loving, where I really believed in the mission and value that it offered to people. I was able to work remotely so we could live up here in Mangawhai even though my office was in Auckland, and overall, life was sweet.

You can see why the decision was hard! In the end, I made the right decision for me based on the two things I always try to consider when I have a hard decision to make: the push or pull factor, and the fear factor (haha. Anyone else remember that show?)

Generally speaking, I try not to make decisions that I’m only making because of some sort of external pressure. Rather, I like to focus on what I’m being pulled to do – e.g. something different, more compelling, or better. I always want to be in control of my own decisions (you know, within reason) and thinking about whether I’m being pushed or pulled is a good, simple way to determine whether I truly am or not. As for the fear factor…well, that’s simply me doing my best not to make decisions based on fear. It’s really hard not to sometimes! But again, I’ve found that decisions made out of fear are often not great decisions.

So I thought about all of that and then I decided to leave my job. Something exciting was pulling me, and while leaving was scary, that wasn’t a good enough reason to stay. I’m now working fewer hours, and that’s working out well also, what with sporadic lockdowns and Amelie starting primary school!

...and another…

And that brings me to our second big change – Amelie is off to ‘big school!’ Which is crazy, because obviously she was literally just born. She is so so excited and really ready for more learning. We managed to squeeze in her school visits in between school closures, and she had the time of her life.

Fitting ‘big school’ into our lives presents its challenges, and that contributed to our decision-making as well, but was definitely not the main driver. The hours for primary school are shorter than we had at preschool, and after Hayden and I looked at all our options for different work configurations and after-school care options, the one that made most sense was for me to move to a more flexible role where we could pick her up from school ourselves and be around for her after school. I feel like I have to make it really clear that if I hadn’t wanted to do that, we would have made it work – this was absolutely not a case of me putting aside what I really want in order or taking a step back in order to make family life work. I know so many parents (mostly mothers, let’s face it) have felt pressure to do that, always but in particular over the last couple of years, as the pandemic has absolutely decimated all the parental supports we would normally have available to us. It’s hard to stay steady in the face of such intense pressures, but I really strongly believe that one parent (usually a mother, let’s face it) shouldn’t have to let go of all they want, and I’d be devastated if this post were taken as an example of someone doing that.

This kind of brings me to the point where I want to talk about what I do want (you know, out of life and career and family and all that…this isn’t a sneaky birthday gift list or anything, even though it’s not far away!), and how I’m getting it, but I feel like my previous point is so important that I need to say it again. Serious face guys.

An interlude

This. is. all. so. hard. Even when there’s not a pandemic, having a career, a family, maybe a hobby or two that you try desperately to cling to, getting some exercise in, trying to eat delicious but decent food, maintain friendships…it’s really hard. And the pandemic has just made it all so much harder, but I think has also exposed what a fallacy ‘doing it all’ has always been. Which I think we’ve mostly all known for a while now, but it’s suddenly so incredibly crystal clear. That’s not to say there are any real solutions, of course! I’m sorry to say I don’t have any, but even though I don’t have a fix, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s incredibly hard for two people in a serious relationship with children to both have big jobs. (It’s quite possible this is the case for those without children, too, but I no longer remember). Not unless there’s a lot of outside help, but as we’ve seen throughout lockdowns, that isn’t something that can always be maintained. School hours are different from work hours, after-school care is pretty much completely privatised, and therefore varies massively in quality and can be horrendously expensive, nannies and babysitters are expensive and can be unreliable (in the way that any human can be), au pairs require a room and many people don’t want someone living with their family full-time…there is no real answer, just a lot of bitsy solutions that can possibly be cobbled together long enough to make it look like it works.

What I am looking forward to

So we do what we can! As anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows, stuff has to shift and move sometimes to make it work – for me, my writing hobby is always first on the chopping block, and that’s been the case for countless years now. Hence why there’s a certain sporadic charm to my posts (at least that’s how I prefer to frame it). I am hoping that once we have settled into this new rhythm of life a bit more, that will cease to be the case, at least a little bit! We’re not there yet, what with, you know, all this (*waves hands vaguely at general world situation*) but we’re working towards it, one step at a time.

Proud vaccination photo – this is how we get to start to live differently from all this (*waves hands vaguely*) y’all, by vaccinating our way out.

One last bonus change

I wasn’t going to talk about this now because I thought it was too soon, but turns out it’s taken me soooo long to write this post that actually, now is the perfect time to mention it! We are selling the uptown apartment. We made the decision pretty recently, back in August when the whole country went back into L4 lockdown. It’s funny, every time we go into lockdown it seems like we recommit to Mangawhai all over again. The latest lockdown was no exception! We have no real reason for selling now…it just felt like the right time. When we first moved up here, we rented it out initially for just a couple of months, just to test whether we were actually 100% sure of our decision, and then we rented it out for a full year – again, hanging on to it just in case. After living in Mangawhai for well over a year now, we know it’s the place for us! I really like Auckland, and I loved living in our uptown apartment and leading a city life there, but times have changed (understatement of the year!), and we’ve changed, and I can’t see us ever going back. Obviously, never say never, but we don’t need to hold onto the apartment as a safety net anymore. Selling it now is another decision that’s moving us closer to living life just as we want to, and that feels completely right to me!

So there we are, all caught up (finally). Have you changed the way you are living life due to the pandemic? Or for other compelling reasons? And how do you feel about those changes? I’d love to hear!

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