A break from the grind

This summer we were presented with an opportunity.  My husband’s job of fourteen years was getting increasingly stressful.  Many rounds of lay offs over several years left much work and little man power.  In June, yet another round of lay offs was announced.  The company asked for volunteers and we decided my husband should raise his hand.  He was selected for the lay off and given a severance that would keep us comfortable for about six months.

It was scary, but also very exciting.  We saw this as a once in a life time opportunity to take time off and focus on our family.  We could live on the severance and look for a less stressful job.  We ended up with almost six months of family time before he headed to that new job.  In that time, we were able to spend time in Delaware twice, Maryland, New Jersey twice, Elysburg, PA, the Pocono Mountains, Maine and New Hampshire.  We also took lots of other day trips that we would not have had the freedom to take otherwise.

We spent time with our kids together.  The dynamic in the house was completely different with two adults and three kids.  We were able to tackle doctor’s appointments, school conferences and play dates with ease.  We were able to work through behavior issues more patiently.  We could take the time to evaluate what may have prompted a bad behavior and try to create a better environment moving forward.  We could divide and conquer if more than one child needed attention or help at the same time.

We cleaned.  We started to reevaluate the possessions that were cluttering our lives.  We cleaned out closets and cabinets and continue to clean out other areas of our house.  We changed our perspective on stuff.  We are working toward a more experience driven life.  That is, we want to spend money on experiences rather than on more stuff.  This is a hard habit to develop, but we are making progress.

From my perspective, it was a much needed break from the overwhelming chaos that was our lives just before the lay off.  It was a chance to think about the life we want to be living and a chance to start working toward it.  Aside from buying less, we began thinking about ways we might diversify our income.  We talked about the things we are passionate about, the skills we have and the kind of work we would like to do.  I launched this blog and my husband started pursuing a website idea that had been on his mind for a year.  The wheels were set in motion.

I started to think that maybe we shouldn’t look at this as a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Perhaps it should always be a priority to take the time for meaningful interactions with our children, to follow our passions, to learn through travel, to pursue our dreams.

Lots of people are doing it.  Here are some who inspire me:

http://www.greatfamilyescape.com/

http://www.ndoherty.com/

http://www.familytrek.org/

http://edventureproject.com/education/ 

It is a lot of work.  It takes discipline.  It takes determination.  It takes courage.  I am hoping this break was the push we need to follow in their footsteps in our own way.

If you had a break from the daily grind, what would you do with it?  Would it be the motivation you need to make changes that would force you to live your dreams?

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