In the beginning there were clear roles.
Six years ago, pre children we had an agreement. One of us was the biggest earner, ambitious with dreams of being an entrepreneur. The other was far happier with a slower pace, worked to live, one might say overly laid back (though only in their head). One would be more than happy ‘making a house a home’ after numerous house moves led by the others career progression. The conversation went like this – when we have children there is clearly only one man for the job.
Fast forward a few years and sh*t got real. Turns out maternity discrimination is a fuc*ker, babies aren’t quite as easy to leave at home as I thought and Jesus Christ is childcare expensive. Parental leave was a financial no go and despite Gazzy’s best intentions and a short period of paternity leave we fell into pretty traditional roles. I went part time which led to one serious gender pay gap emerging and after baby number two it was almost impossible to readdress the balance, we were reliant on Gazzy’s salary and my corporate career, once so on track, was stalling.
Frustrated and determined to stop other women facing this motherhood penalty (plus having had a career in training and development) I went on to follow those dreams I’d left behind a few years back by setting up Lifebulb and Guilty Mothers Club. Things were pretty good, I freelanced and ran workshops really flexibly, loads of time with the kids, my business growing successfully.
Only there was a problem.
Whilst supporting other women to Change the Game our own family life still wasn’t quite right. It almost felt like we’d done one half of the change. Gazzy works in a senior position for a large corporate. He worked long hours and spent 24 hours a week commuting, leaving the house at 4.45am and seeing the littles for approx 30 mins a day. Weekends were spent catching up and being, well tired. My organisation and time ninja skills meant I was achieving an awful lot in my 8 hours or so of childcare a week but was also responsible for everything else. Washing, kids parties, making dinner, school meetings, changing beds, homework. We were managing but my head was full and Gazzy was seriously lacking balance. And neither of us were happy with just ‘managing’, we were too busy, life was too full.
This blog journals what happens next, our year long experiment hopefully redefining how work and family can fit together and establishing who and what does actually work (a topic I am fascinated by). Gazzy has taken a year long career break to be a stay at home Dad whilst I will be working flexibly (approx 30 hours a week at first) on growing my business from home.
We’re searching for freedom from long commutes, archaic working practises and traditional gender roles. We’re searching not for more time but a realignment as a family of how that time is spent.
This means the following is true:
– We are substantially less well off in terms of cash. We are now budgeting to the max and have had to change the way we live quite dramatically. I don’t pretend for one second that this is difficult or deserving of any sort of credit. We are exceptionally lucky to be in the privileged position to make these choices. We are funding this experiment through some savings and my income (I am running a startup which everyone knows means income can be unpredictable. Honestly this bit is pretty scary. I’m hoping Gazzy will blog about how he is going to stretch our £50 weekly food budget to feed a family of five).
– We are substantially better off in terms of time. We have three littles (they are 6, 4 and 2) and this is huge for us as a family. More time one to one, playing, doing nothing together.
– We plan to live more simply. This has been something on our minds for a few years. We’ve already de-cluttered on quite a big scale and love minimalism. We plan to do some growing, some learning about this whole slow movement. We hope that this will save money and the planet whilst helping us to be more present and become even closer as a little family of five.
We will both blog, sometimes on the same topic so there are two sides to the same story and sometimes on our own themes. We hope this will provide a nice record of our year and maybe help us explain to the littles why we have no pensions or savings in years to come. “Remember that year when Daddy was about loads…no? Honestly it was a hoot, check out this blog…”
(All photos by Anna Hardy Photography)