Can you afford to take risks when you’ve got kids?
During the World Cup Final at the weekend Hubs reminded me of where we watched it 4 years ago. We were in Praz de Lys, a hamlet/village in the French Alps (Haute Savoie), enjoying a final French holiday before packing up our French life to move to the UK.
On the 18th June 2010 we made the decision to leave our life in France and move to the UK. For me that meant leaving behind 12 years of my life; I lived in France from the age of 22 until the age of 34. For Hubs it meant leaving the country where he had lived for 33 of his 34 years. For L it was the country she was born in and where she had lived for her first 3 and 1/2 years.
On the 19th July 2010, after a day on the beach, we packed up our final 3 suitcases and boarded an evening plane bound for Gatwick, where we were met by my mum and dad. In a month we had resigned from a job, closed down a business, given notice at L’s school, sold most of the contents and furniture of a 4 bedroom flat, sold a car, closed down utilities’ contracts, given notice on our tenancy and said our sad goodbyes.
A lot has changed in those 4 years between the two world cup finals. On 19th July 2010, Hubs, L and I moved in with my parents. That’s right, at the age of 34 I moved my husband, 3 and 1/2 year old daughter and myself back into my childhood home with my mum and dad. Both Hubs and I were unemployed. We had no home. No car. And very few possessions. But we were ready for new jobs and a new home in London.
In those 4 years we both got good jobs – Hubs tripled his French salary, I doubled mine, and we were both promoted within 6 months of starting our London jobs. We moved from my parents’ house into a lovely house in London and we both started blogs. We had a second child, another girl. I set up my own business and started writing. Hubs stopped work to launch his own business. And that saw us take our third risk since becoming parents.
We took our first risk 8 years ago. We owned a 4 bedroom house, with a pool in the back garden, we had a car, and both Hubs and I had good well-paid, secure jobs. But we wanted to set up our own business. So despite me being pregnant with our first baby (L), and despite having a mortgage to pay, we decided to launch a luxury, travel agency, offering bespoke holidays to the French Riviera.
We learnt how to manage our finances in a big way, and how to work around L being awake/at the childminder’s. We had some incredible experiences before deciding to close the business down as the recession hit globally, adversely affecting businesses the world over.
Setting up our business was risk number 1. Our second risk came in 2010 when we decided to jack our work in all over again (Hubs as an employee, and me as a business owner), in order to relocate to the UK and to find work, and a better quality of life, here. When we left France we had no guarantee of finding work, we had a 3 and 1/2 year old daughter to support, and our savings / investments.
I remember the phone call I had with my mum before moving to England; “Hi Mum, it’s me. Look, is it ok if Hubs, L and I move in with you and Dad? Indefinitely. Well until we find jobs and somewhere to live. Oh good, thanks!”
I’m very lucky in that my parents are always very supportive, and whilst they can’t really help us out financially (that’s what happens when you have 4 siblings!), they provided a roof over our heads and childcare so we could go job and house-hunting, which was the stepping stone to the next stage of our lives: London.
Risk number 2 paid off. Whilst we miss France (you can read about how I miss France here), moving to the UK, and to London, was by far one of the best decisions and risks we’ve ever taken.
And finally came our third risk. Whilst celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, on a child-free holiday in Sharm el Sheikh last autumn, Hubs and I made the decision that he would stop work to concentrate on a couple of business plans we’d been working on for a while.
And that was that. We plunged into the unknown again. Again. But it looks like it’s beginning to pay off. In September Hubs will be launching his own training course for French-speakers wanting to learn how to invest their own money in the stock market (French-speakers can follow him on his blog: Bourse Ensemble which means Stock Market Together), which is his big passion. Although his training course is not yet available to buy he already has a long list of people waiting to buy it, which is always a good sign!
On top of that, Franglaise Cooking, the food blog that Hubs and I launched early in 2014, is seeing its own success: we were shortlisted for a prestigious BiB (Brilliance in Blogging) award just 3 months after we started out, and since we started people have asked us, via the blog and social media, if we would consider bringing out a book, so who knows if that might see the light of day at some point too…
So will this third risk work out? Who knows? We hope so, you have to as otherwise there’s no point in taking the risk.
Most of our friends, Brits and French alike, have thought we are mad on the undertaking of all three risks. We have heard “You can’t take risks like that when you have kids!” or “you’re mad!” along with “you can’t sell your house/car/baby items….”.
Hubs and I aren’t risk averse, but equally we don’t take crazy risks. We make sure there is a decent chance of success before going for it, and we make sure we have back-up plans in place. It’s scary. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But if it all works out……it’ll all be worth the risks and the sacrifices.
So don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t afford to take risks when you’ve got kids. To quote one of my favourite books, “feel the fear and do it anyway”.