I have been reading a lot about how Americans are living differently because of the economy. Our family started making changes three years ago when money got tighter and our cost of living in Seattle skyrocketed. I call it my domestication period.
I had left my job because I couldn't deal with a husband who worked 16+ hours, working 10-12 hour days myself and commuting 45 minutes each way, usually with the baby screaming the entire way. One night my daughter who was 3 at the time asked me "Where are we picking dinner up tonight?". She thought dinner came out of a drive-thru window. I had had enough. My marriage was on the rocks. My husband was running a fledgling business and I was at my breaking point.
We put our house on the market with the intention of scaling back. I sold my car. I started grocery shopping, riding the bus with the girls to the farmer's market on Wednesdays and began cooking like crazy. I started clipping coupons. No more shopping at the mall. I hit Goodwill, Value Village and second hand shops around Seattle for clothing and household items. I began babysitting for neighbors and family members to make extra money. We were beyond broke but for the first time in a long time I was WITH my girls, truly present. We took many walks around the neighborhood. Picked blackberries. Baked. Had playdates with the neighbors. The time was so good for my soul. The color started to come back to my skin.
Our house never sold. After over a year we were left with no option but to walk away. We tried working with the bank for over 9 months with no response. I had started a new job so that we would have medical and dental benefits. But I refused to make the commute and put my kids through long days again. My marriage got to the point of no return. We were at a crossroads and it was tenuous at best. We moved into a rental house where our housing costs were half of what they were and we were 3 miles from my work. We continued to scale back our lives. We missed our old neighbors but met some wonderful new neighbors! We were in the rental for 10 months. It was a wonderful time of rebuilding and refocusing on our family. Eventually we knew we wanted to make a big move to an area with a much lower cost of living bringing us to our current place.
For a while there was a great sense that we gave up the dream of having a house in the big city with a nice view. But once we moved, we never looked back. We learned and gained so much more. We are much more careful with our finances. I still feel domesticated and I love it! I love that my kids are 6 1/2 and 4 now and they don't remember those long days or getting food out of a drive-thru window. It is on the rare occasion that we do that. I love that I have a job with a non-commute that allows me to do the work that I love and then be home and be completely present with my family. I love that my husband and I weathered the storm and are even stronger now. We have re-prioritized everything and now things are more stable than they have ever been. Stability and domestication feel great!