When you leave your jobs and your house and your city, and move to a small apartment in a new city and work from home, you end up spending a lot of time with your family.
Some working parents dread dropping their children off at daycare, and others know that, while they love their families, they could not spend every minute of the day with them! We are somewhere in between. It’s wonderful that James can be home to hear first words and see our little creature developing her habits, but it’s also nice to just be “you” for a minute without responding to the roles of mom, dad, wife, husband… or cat staff.
First, the joys of spending more time with your family:
Learning new things and remembering old ones
It takes a lifetime to get to know someone, each moment building on your memories together. We create connections with our family, using these close relationships for good and also occasionally, to hurt them where only we can. When you dedicate your life to the people sitting beside you at breakfast, you’ll understand better how the complexity of the family bond is not something to take for granted. It’s always easier to remove yourself from something if you are not really invested in the first place. With James working from home and me staying at home, family life has so many more dimensions than it ever did when we both worked for corporations. (Especially since now James can talk about his job!)
Strength in numbers
We don’t have a very big family, but it’s clear that wherever WE are is our home. You can stay in any old motel with your family, drive for 15 hours eating only out of your car, or just sit at a table in your local mall to feel this. It’s very different to travel alone or as a couple—you get the feeling that something is missing. While you may be running around, counting heads or fielding “why’s,” family time feels complete. We’ve been at home on a cold, rainy hike in Sedona and a tiny motel room with no hot water. One of my favorite family-oriented blogs is by Brandon Pearce, whose location-independent lifestyle allows him to cherish time with his 3 girls, enjoy foreign travel and expat life in Southeast Asia and Costa Rica.
Now, the risks of spending more time with your family:
Proof of Your Shortcomings
Who really wants bad behavior to be noted and remembered for all time? Since James works from home, he now knows how often I eat dessert: sometimes twice a day and often as early as 8 a.m. I have been known to eat a bowl of ice cream on the kitchen floor a few hours after breakfast. The layout of our apartment provides James with a full view of my “lucky” job as stay-at-home-mom. On bad days this includes putting Yo Gabba Gabba on Netflix and letting Baby J play with his video game cases while I read Time Magazine. On good days, he may stumble upon both of us drawing in crayon all over the balcony.
When you are always together, fights go on for much longer than expected. In the past, work would serve as a cooling-off period and some of the argument would evaporate by dinner time. Now, fights tend to build until they reach an actual breaking point where one of us threatens to stab the other with the chopping knife. (Just kidding! Our knives haven’t been sharpened in years.) If Baby J is begging at the fridge door for milk or another Kalamata olive to chew, the argument may escalate even more until all three of us are participating in a “family tantrum.”
Lack of Understanding for Other Situations
Although we made our change less than a year ago, it’s easy to forget that there are families living the old way: commuting and spending little time together. Financial reasons often dictate this way of living, and we know it is hard to sustain. All things considered, it was our magic time to make this move and we are trying to relish it! I sometimes can’t recall what it was like to have James commute to work each day and then work at home at night, but then I remember that it was this situation (and our underwater house) that ultimately motivated us to change something.
A lot has been said about time as a commodity, and this is never more apparent than when you don’t have enough of it to go around. Before you know it, 5 years turns into 10, and 10 into 20, and you might be knee-deep in regret about those little joys you passed up along the way.
Photo by jasonr611