We’ve found a lot of people are curious about why we sold everything we owned to travel full time with kids. Especially because E+J are so young. It’s not the ‘normal’ family life you’re expected to live when you become parents. We have had a few negative comments, but I know we’ve made the right decision for our family.
Travel has always been a love of ours
In 2011/12 Matt and I went to Europe together, spending time in England (where I was born), France, and Spain. We cruised around the Mediterranean stopping in Morocco, Portugal, Italy, Vatican City and Spain again. I lived in the Australian outback for three years, and Matt moved over for one of those years. Matt spent three weeks with a friend in the Philippines, while I went on a Contiki to China and Hong Kong.
When I moved back to New Zealand in 2015, our plan was simple. We wanted to buy a house, get engaged and married, then move overseas, probably to Europe. Well, that didn’t go to plan and at the end of 2015 we welcomed baby Ella into our world. Becoming parents changed everything. We moved cities and bought our first home; Matt started a building company with is cousin; and we got married and had baby Jack. Family life, we decided, was our immediate future, travel could wait till our children were a lot older.
Okay, confession time; we hated ‘normal life’
Matt was working long, unrewarding hours, the business did not do well financially so money was tight; I really, really struggled after Jack was born. Trying to juggle a demanding newborn and an extremely active toddler, while feeling horrible about myself was not easy; and to top it off our marriage was in a terrible place because of the growing stress and unhappiness.
Then it got worse
I found a lump in my neck after Jack was born. My GP assumed it would be Postpartum Thyroiditis – antithyroid antibodies attack your thyroid, causing it to become inflamed. It’s not very common and only affects an estimated 5% of woman after they give birth; but I had a lot of the symptoms. The blood tests came back normal, so I was referred to the hospital for an ultrasound and biopsy. The ultrasound confirmed it was a tumour, and unfortunately the biopsy came back inconclusive. The hospital referred me to an ENT surgeon to have the half of my thyroid containing the tumour removed and tested.
This was when Matt and I had the ‘if I died tomorrow would I be happy with the way I’ve been living my life’ conversation. Both of us answered no, and we knew something needed to change. We spent a few months discussing if we should pack up and move our family to the UK, or spend all our savings on a round the world trip. We talked a lot about the logistics of trying to travel full time with kids. Obviously with my health in question, neither of those choices were an option. Eventually we decided to sell our house, close the business and move back to Auckland.
Oh Auckland, how I missed you
We enjoyed living in Auckland so much more than we did in Tauranga. A huge part of that were less money struggles as Matt was working for a company; and because we were putting more time and effort into our marriage. I had gastric sleeve surgery at the end of 2018 which completely changed my life, and my thyroid surgery was booked for June 2019. We’d decided to try for another baby once my tumour was removed and I had recovered. We bought an SUV, perfect for expanding our family when the time came, and for doing road trips all over New Zealand. The type of travel we knew we could easily make work with a young family.
A few months into the year, one of Matts best friends, James, died in a motorbike accident. It devastated Matt, and was such a shock to lose someone we loved, who was the same age, and who had so much more he wanted to do in life. It caused us again, to revaluate our own life. Were we truly doing what we wanted, or were we settling for second best because we believed it was safer?
It took Matt four months to convince me we should take the risk. I’m the worrier in our marriage and too often focus on the negative ‘what ifs’; leaving our comfortable, though unfulfilling life, was a huge and scary risk. Luckily Matt is more than optimistic and confident enough for the both of us! We booked one way tickets to Malaysia and I may have been half a bottle of wine down when I clicked the ‘book’ button. Honestly, it was terrifying. It was the first choice we had made for our future which was what we truly wanted.