A bit more than 2 years ago my little family and I moved from the UK to Mauritius. And I know lots of people thought “what lucky b*stards!”, but what most people don’t know is that this is a journey that Ben and I have been on since the end of 2003. So today I want to share the sacrifices we made for our dream to come true.
What was our dream?
Shortly after Ben and I got married in 2003 he shared with me his dream for freedom. He didn’t want to work for the (wo)man his whole life. He wanted to be in charge of his life. And I won’t lie to you, it caused frictions. I’d married a man who had a good job, great prospects (for France) and who did his 9-5 but then came out and had fun with me and our friends.
Suddenly he wanted to stay home, read books on how to make his dream become a reality and save money to launch his own business.
It’s really important to point out that this was Ben’s dream for a looooooong time before it was ever mine.
In fact his staying home used to drive me demented. We were 28, child-free and earned good money. But while all our friends were out partying and going on holidays, we were saving money and being very pipe and slippers.
When did his dream become my dream?
This went on for quite a while, until October 2005. I remember the date well. We were on holiday in Sri Lanka and he gave me a book to read: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and it totally changed my outlook on everything.
From that point onwards I was totally onboard.
At that stage we were trying to conceive, following the miscarriage of my first pregnancy a few months previously, and I kept thinking about how I wanted to have more to offer my future children. More time and more freedom.
The sacrifices we made for our dream to come true
If you’ve ever had a dream then you’ll know that it comes at a cost.
You want to have a great job? You’ll need to work hard, at training or at the job itself.
You want to lose weight? You’ll need to watch what you eat and / or work out.
Unless you win the lottery, or were born into a rich family, you cannot have the freedom of living where you want and working how / when you want unless you invest time, energy and effort into it first.
The cost of our dream of freedom
For us the cost of our dream was our social life and our spare time.
Ben and I would spend evenings and weekends working on business ideas, reading business / entrepreneurial and personal development books and constantly learning.
I have learnt a million times more since 2005 than I learnt during all my years of school and university.
All our time and money went into our dream.
We said “no” to nights out, to weekends away, to holidays. We said “no” until it got to the stage where people stopped asking us.
Ben handled this better than me, but I’m a social animal and this was the hardest for me.
We kept track of every single penny we spent, so that no money was wasted and everything was budgeted for. If I bought a baguette I’d enter the amount into a spreadsheet. Every spare cent went towards our dream.
We had our first baby in December 2006. She was clothed in mostly second-hand clothes. She slept in a second-hand cot. We didn’t do the whole “decorate the nursery” thing, we didn’t want to waste time or money on it.
We weren’t poor but we wanted to invest any money we could into making our dream come true.
How working towards our dream affected our marriage and our kids
Our first business – along with the huge majority of first businesses – failed. It got off to a good start but then the global recession occurred and we got out before we lost any money (thanks to Ben’s forward thinking).
Our hopes and dreams were dashed. We were exhausted – not only had we set up our new business together, but we’d had our first baby at the same time too – and we nearly paid for it with our marriage.
When Léna was 2 years old we left her for 2 weeks to go on much-needed break, just the two of us, to the Dominican Republic. It’s not an over-statement to say that it saved our relationship and our family. Our business was still over but our marriage was back on track. Since then I’ve become a huge believer in child-free holidays to keep relationships thriving.
I had always dreamed of having two children, really close in age, who would therefore be really close to each other.
But there was no way that could happen once we closed down our business. I needed to get a job.
We had to put our dreams on hold. Our dream of freedom and my dream of a second child.
We got jobs. Those horrific jobs where you count the minutes every single day.
We were in the opposite of our dream. Instead of having the freedom to choose how and when we worked we were at our bosses’ beck and call. At this stage I was having to leave the house before Léna woke up in order to be home in time to collect her from child-care.
It was truly awful.
Getting our dream back on track
Around this time we decided to move to London. We knew we were limited work-wise in France, whether as an employee or as our own boss.
We gave up everything in France. I said goodbye to the people who had been my friends and my support network for 12 years. We sold the vast majority of our belongings and moved in with my parents in the UK whilst we found jobs and a home.
It was a tough time. It was hard to imagine ever fulfilling our dream.
Léna was nearly 4 years old and I was devastated that I was still no closer to providing her with a sibling.
We both got jobs and were out of the house 11 hours a day.
Things started to look up. We were making good money so relaxed some of our restrictions on our finances. We even went on a few holidays and started treating ourselves to date nights.
But the dream was still there. The dream of freedom along with the dream of a second child.
We finally decided that the time was right to try for Baby Number 2, and whilst doing that we both started new projects.
I launched a parenting blog (Franglaise Mummy) around the time we were trying to conceive and Ben launched his own blog in French.
We had ideas, plans and dreams again, so it was time to start saving some more.
When our dream came true
The sacrifices kept on coming in order to see our dream come true. Baby Number 2 got no more treats than Baby Number 1. I spent as little as possible on maternity clothes and rotated about 6 outfits over the 6 months of needing a bigger wardrobe. Everything was bought as cheaply as possible and again there was no nursery decorating done.
Ben spent his paternity leave with his head in the computer as he worked on making our dream a reality. At the same time I read, learnt and worked on various ideas during Clémence’s naps and whilst she kicked on her activity mat.
We spent evenings and weekends working on making our freedom dream become a reality. (A big sister makes a great baby entertainer it turns out!)
Until the day when Ben said to me, “you do realise, we don’t actually HAVE to live in London anymore, we can go anywhere with decent internet access”.
We were finally at a stage where we could choose where to live.
Funnily enough we looked into moving to South Wales first of all. After London we liked the idea of spending as little as possible on our everyday living costs, so we could plough it back into making sure we could sustain our freedom, through our businesses and through Ben’s trading.
First of all I didn’t want to be too far from family and friends, so South Wales looked like a good compromise.
Until Ben said to me “How about Mauritius?”
We were coming to the end of a long, UK winter and we were both sick of the cold, grey and rain of London. And Mauritius was like a beacon of light.
It took us a while to go from making the decision to it becoming reality. We wanted to spend time with my family before moving so far away. We had a million and one ducks to get in a row. But nearly 8 months after we made the decision we saw our dream come true when on the 31st October 2015 we stepped off the plane and into our new life.
If you read this blog or follow me on social media you’ll know just how much we all love life here. Partly because it really is incredible and partly because it’s the dream destination after our long, long journey of sacrifices.
Many years ago, when I was going through a particularly hard time, my mum said to me:
“You can’t enjoy ecstasy unless you’ve experienced agony”
And it has proven itself to be true over and over again in my life.
We are living the dream now. There is no doubt about it. We work when and how we want to. We are there for our kids, for each other and for ourselves. And the social life we sacrificed in the past is now alive and kicking.
It took 12 years of sacrifices but we got here.
It meant that the two children that I wanted close in age and close in relationship are 6 years apart and couldn’t be closer.
Was our dream worth the sacrifice?
There were many times when it was incredibly hard, when I wondered if it was worth it, if we would ever “get there” but it all paid off. Over 2 years into our Mauritian journey and I still have to pinch myself most days as it feels like such a dream.
I love helping women to make big and small changes to live a life that makes them happy and fulfilled and I do this through my highly successful Life Reboot Camp, click here for more information and to join my tribe of Life Reboot Campers.
What is your dream lovely? And how are you going to make it happen?
A version of this post originally appeared on my Franglaise Mummy blog
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