The New Normal

There are so many gifts to be found in 2020 and the crazy unprecedented year that it has been. It feels like I’ve been on a constant shift of establishing a new normal in every stage. When the first restrictions were rolled out here in New South Wales and we didn’t go out and my husband started working from home and our oldest son who is in kindergarten was being educated at home via distance learning, I actually loved it. It became a break of the endless routine of being mom. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the very privileged role that I get to play in this world, I know that many women want to be mother’s and can’t, and I don’t take this for granted. I do however feel like sometimes I skate through and it’s all good, then other times I feel completely holed in by the life that I have intentionally created.

I constantly get pulled in two opposing directions of wanting to spend as much time as I possibly can with my children while they are young, and also really craving my own quiet time alone to think and write and process life and feelings. I simultaneously want the routine of motherhood because it provides a stable space for my children, something that is highly important to me since it’s something that I felt was very much lacking in my own childhood, plus all the studies and everything else I’ve read confirms that importance of routine, that children develop the foundation of who they are in life in those first seven to eight years with the first three being of the utmost importance.

There are many women in my community who I honestly envy. They have support systems, family members, parents, grandparents that they can call upon to ask for help. I see it as such a benefit to have the ability to have a tribe that you don’t have to pay for that helps raise your children. The children then get the care and love that a family member would provide versus a stranger. Although I can see the flip side if family isn’t trustworthy or doesn’t parent the way you do. I try not to dwell on not having the family support because there isn’t anything I can do about it. So for our situation the way to get help is to pay for it. Occasionally I feel comfortable enough to ask a Mother’s Group friend to keep an eye on one of our children, but I don’t want to take advantage of the friendships I have and I know they are also busy with their own children.

I feel like I should talk about how expensive childcare is in Australia as well. To have our two year old in daycare the cost is $126 per day. This is an extraordinary amount of money. Honestly it’s a little daunting to think that if I put my child into daycare then I need to come up with the money to cover it, and it feels like that cost should be balanced out by revenue or income straight away. To have our two year old in care would cost $378 for just three days a week. If we then somehow went up to 5 days a week that’s $630 a week for care for one child excluding diapers. This is an extraordinary amount of money so the Australian government now subsidises up to 50% which means that a day in care then drops to $63 per day, which after seeing the exorbitant amount of $126 sounds reasonable. So for three days that will come out to $189 or if we dared go a full 5 days will be $315 per week.

Naturally thinking about the costs of daycare for myself who has been a stay at home parent for the last couple of years with my youngest, I instantly feel a bit of anxiety that I need to come up with the money to cover this new expense. I do whatever I can to minimise our expenses now which means that the majority of our meals are made at home by me, that we only buy new clothes when we need them, that I find the best deals possible on time away because travel and exploration is still vital to me, and we just don’t go out other than when we are traveling.

A part of me then thinks that my little retail business I have online where I buy and sell things would only cover about 1/5th of the year to pay for 3 days a week of childcare. It means that I’d still need to come up with enough money to make sending my child to daycare worth it financially, without stressing about money.

This is clearly a stream of consciousness post so I’m just going to keep going to work out my mind and emotions.

So stressing about money is not something that I like to do. I feel like a good portion of my life I have had to stress about money, mostly the part of not having enough money. There came a time when I literally had zero dollars with nothing in savings and had to borrow $20 for gas to get to work, and I was already 30 years old when this happened. I have had times in my life when I had so much disposable income that I spent it freely throwing parties and inviting everyone along paying for food and beverages because I didn’t want people to feel left out, or going out to eat and drink at nice restaurants and just adding up the tab because I was young and I absolutely had the mentality of “you only live once” or YOLO.

I have swung the other way when I came to Australia with a mere $500 to my name which dwindled very fast when I couldn’t find a job for the first few months and have had to rebuild everything from the ground up here, absolutely everything from my body, my spirituality, my emotions, my relationships, my education, my community, my everything. That sting of the rebuild has stayed with me. It was with me when our first child was born, it was with me as we rented apartments where we couldn’t even put nails in the wall without asking permission or having our bond threatened, it was with me when my husband and I were paying off our debts, my student loan, and his collective debt from when he was younger. It was with me when we finally bought a house that was within our price range without overstitching, that we could afford on my husbands salary alone, barring expensive childcare fees. It was with me when we purchased outright our cars, both second hand, both after each of our respective cars literally stopped working within a super short time frame apart. It was with me when we purchased our second hand caravan outright because travel is important and so is doing it economically at this stage in our lives. We are finally at a stage, after being together for nine years, where our only debt is our mortgage, and actually we actually have some savings as a backup. This is so massive. After having such a tumultuous time financially over these years, after feeling like I can’t do things because we don’t have the money, or because we were aggressively paying off debt. After feeling like we didn’t have enough money to buy the family farm when half of it was sold off and how crushing that was. After knowing that the reason we even came to Sydney was because my husband got a job that paid well in his field and that it was the strategy to pay off our debts, to get to the place financially we are now where we have our own house. All of that hasn’t left me.

The thing is that I feel all of that history, and the next part of me is like… well, you’ve done all of that, so now is time for something else. There is a part of me that now thinks that is completely over because we are in a different position and we’ve learned a lot of lessons around finance from when we were both younger and because now we have other people who depend on us. There is a part of me that feels that because I have experienced poverty in my adult life and now see the value of money that it’s time to really allow a lot of money to flow in my life.

The other part of me feels a lot of expectation to earn a lot of money to pay for childcare so that I can have the time and space to think and write. A huge part of me feels like I must start another online business that is evergreen to help fund our lives, and to help fund me having the space to connect and create. I see that childcare is a necessary aspect of what is needed in my life and it’s coming, it’s all arranged to start in early 2021. With this new change also means that an additional $9978 (3 days a week $189 x 52 weeks + 150 enrolment fee) is needed as a revenue stream in 2021. If I just go and get a regular job on those three days I’ll hardly earn more than that and still won’t have the time and space to be in my own head to write and create. I tried that last time when we put our oldest son in care and I didn’t have any time for myself because I filled the time he was in care with me working for someone else, which by the way is not how I like to live my life.

I had a full meltdown about all of this last night after I picked up the enrolment packet from the childcare centre. My little one was holding on tight to my side like a koala covering his face from the enthusiastically spoken woman who runs the centre. It’s like he had a sense that this was coming, and I swear he behaved more gently and kinder for the rest of the day.

I also don’t want to miss out on his development which is why he won’t go into care until he’s 2 years and 3 months. There’s still a lot of developing to do, but he’s been at home with me full time and I’ve been able to witness all of the milestones, rolling over which he pretty much did from birth and never stopped, to crawling, to walking, running, jumping, to saying Mama and Dada, to saying his own name, to painting and drawing, to now counting and saying sentences like “turn the light on” or “three, two, one, go!”. I’ve been lucky to experience all of this. I now need to allow the help I need so that I feel like I can also grow in other ways that I want to.

I guess that when the initial shifts of 2020 started to happen, after the bushfires and the threat of losing our lives due to fire, but the virus where we all stayed in versus evacuating. When my husband was first working from home and my son was first distance learning, I suddenly had so much more time because my husband was no longer commuting, he was more hands on because he was here, and I revelled in the support. My kindy son and I would quickly run through his lessons and he’d be off playing. My one year old loved having everyone around and we played together, and took walks around the block as a family every day. I even started waking up really early to write, and I felt the energy to actually do it. I know my husband wasn’t as keen on all of these adjustments because he wasn’t getting as much work done. My question is though that was he doing too much before anyway? I don’t fully know what he does but I do know that he answers emails and works on his projects 24 hours a day.

Then when restrictions started easing up, he started going back to the office and all of a sudden it felt like we had shifted back into what was, even though we had gained so much ground on creating a new way of living our lives. He even changed jobs in the midst of all of this because we were actually supposed to have moved to Seattle early this year, but due to covid-19 all plans got derailed, which I’m actually happy about because I do love living in Australia and there is so much more to explore and see here that I haven’t. Anyway now he can work truly remotely which has certainly spurred up the idea of doing some full time travel.

Full time travel is in direct conflict of having time and space for myself and see that very clearly. It’s also very much in conflict of having my two year old in care starting in 2021.

I wonder if there is a way to combine all of it somehow. A way to combine having support with the kids; traveling Australia; dedicated work time for my husband; quiet time for myself; and plenty of money to fulfil this dream because traveling with money is SO much easier than traveling on a shoestring budget.

If 2020 has taught me anything through the bushfires, and then coronavirus it’s that nothing is secure and that now is the time to live life as fully as possible. It’s also taught me that having money is essential if you want to easily relocate, or if you want to easily pay the fees for delivered goods versus browsing for deals in brick and mortar shops. It’s also taught me that I must have time for myself to be a whole person. It’s shown me clearly how I have put and continue to put everyone else’s needs above my own as cliche as that sounds but it’s a cliche for a reason. It’s also taught me that I need to communicate very clearly to my husband so he knows what my needs are, and I need to claim my space and needs. It’s also taught me how influenced I am as an empathic person, by the feelings and emotions within my own family and with my boys who both have strong personalities. That last bit about feeling all of their emotions is why it’s essential for me to have my own space emotionally and mentally to work out how I feel about things, so I can be present and strong within myself, then come into the group dynamic.

I had come to this idea about core values and determining what is most important is a way to lead life intentionally and I still stand by this. Knowing what is most important is key because all the other things that either support or hinder that, and adjustments can be made to enhance or shift what isn’t working.

When I’ve looked deeply at my own values I’ve often come back to similar values that include: following my bliss, doing what feels most joyous in any given moment because the more joyous I feel the better all of life is; creating a positive impact and adding value in any way I can; and sharing my own merits and gifts freely with others and also accepting and receiving gifts from others in all forms which may mean truly feeling a compliment, or saying yes to an offering without feeling like I need to give something directly in return.

Crafting the new normal is a process, and I am in process. This is it as it flows, in black and while. I want to continue to live an extraordinary life. I am open to unconventional ways of allowing life to be easy and joyous. I am open to showing up however I can, when I can, to share my journey so that other’s may feel inspired to create their own changes and transformations.

The thing is that I am in a very fortunate position, that most people who would read this are probably also in this kind of fortunate position to have options, to have the choice of creating the life you want. The next part is just identifying what that life is and making changes to allow it to unfold.