Three months ago we moved into my childhood home. Deciding to pack up and move eighty miles to the south was relatively easy. Sure we made a list of pros and cons, but I think we would both admit we knew pretty soon after the seed was planted that this was the right choice for our family. My hometown is his college town (and mine, for that matter), so he had also lived here for many years. It’s where we first met, of course, and later got married. We have friends and family here. We are getting to “start over” without actually having to “start over.”
The one thing that made us nervous in the months between the decision to move and the actual move was work. Because we were giving up our large mortgage, if Patrick lost his job, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. He would find work here. My business can be run from anywhere, so no worries on my part, but he is still our primary breadwinner (for now). It was only after we were completely certain we were moving that he told his boss his plans. I waited on the edge of my seat at home. Worst case scenario: they fired him on the spot. Very unlikely, but we had to consider it. Best case scenario: they let him keep his job and work from home.
Because my spouse is smart, kind, funny, loyal, and damn good at his job, we were awarded the best case scenario. Well, almost the best. He drives the 100 miles to work once a week. The other six days a week, we are together. He has an office with a door that closes, but after ten years of marriage, we spend more of our time together than apart.
Both in the months leading up to and following our big move, everyone asks about the town, the house (which we are remodeling), the kids, the dogs. But I honestly feel like the biggest change has been adjusting to this new work situation. I love my spouse. A lot. Fire of a thousand suns and all that. But now, he is home with me during the day, and it has taken some adjusting. It continues to require compromise and patience, from both of us. Overall, however, it is so much better than before.
With zero input or approval from him, here are the best things about both of us working from home:
- Obviously, no commute. Our last home was a 35-45 minute commute each way, every day, worse in poor weather, road construction, or a freeway backup. Often one or both of our kids would only see him for an hour a day.
- He takes his breaks with us. At the office, he would go for a walk, go to a coworker’s office to chat, and go out to lunch with his friends. Now, we are his co-workers (kinda, you get the idea). He walks the kids to school in the morning. He takes a break when our son comes home from preschool to ask him about his day; he does the same three hours later when our daughter gets home. He takes the dogs and our son for a walk almost every lunch hour after eating. He has time to play outside with the kids before suppertime (before, we’d often have to start eating without him in order to still be in bed on time).
- He can help me with my work (read: my computer) if I need him. Previously, he could maybe take a phone call at work and try to troubleshoot with me, but now I get the real thing. He can also do things like flip the laundry if I’m at the store or at an appointment.
- Four mornings a week, both the kids are at school.
- While his office does have a door, I’m allowed to open it if I need something (like my coat from the closet because this house is much smaller than our last and now our coat closet is the office/guest room/tv room’s closet). I’m puffed with pride when I see him there at his desk, four monitors ablaze with science. His modesty will tell you otherwise, but he has a unique and important job.
- Along those same lines, if I am in the dining room working and all else is quiet, I can hear him behind that closed door, talking all science-y and business-y. I was only privy to what he shared with me before, and now I can observe him in his element. Everyone should get to see and hear the loves of their lives doing what they are so good at.
- It’s just better. It’s easier. It’s healthier. It’s economical and environmentally friendly.
Working from home is not available to everyone. It’s also not a lifestyle for everyone. But if it’s possible for you, I highly recommend it. Tim Ferriss devotes a chapter to it in his book The Four-Hour Work Week. Check it out if you are thinking of asking for this privilege. He also talks about creating passive income, which I can help you out with myself.
My spouse and I are certain we will one day look back on this move as the pivotal moment in our lives. What it has already afforded us in making our lives better is more time together. Of course we’re also saving a lot of money, but time is so much more valuable. “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” Carl Sandburg knew his stuff.