While the past four weeks may have felt more like four years to many of us, The Grace Tales reader Rebecca Cavanagh has actually been living the ‘iso-life’ for four whole years. She and her husband made the move from Sydney to a small farm in rural NSW, and at first, it wasn’t easy.
“I missed my interaction at a coffee shop daily, my mothers group and all my friends, restaurants, take away, shops five minutes away, beaches, playgrounds and endless activities for the kids.”
Sound familiar? There’s good news. “I really hope from this change people will become accustomed to slow living, and be able to create time and space for the things that matter most to us in life. This is something that took me four years but I now whole-heartedly appreciate!”
We asked Rebecca for her tips on fast-tracking the route to slowing down…
Photography: Mia & Bella Photography
You moved from Sydney to the country four years ago. Where are you living now and what prompted the move?
Yes, just over four years ago my husband and I took the plunge and moved to the country. We moved to a small town called Coolah, 4.5 hours North West of Sydney, and an hour north of Mudgee. My husband and I had always talked about bringing our children up in the country. I grew up at Coolah, however my husband grew up in Sydney.
I never imagined myself moving back to Coolah because at the time I had been living in the city for over 10 years and had become quite accustomed to the luxuries of the city, however it made sense to be closer to my family if we were moving away from my husband’s family, and it worked for his work at the time.
I think it’s worth mentioning that we don’t live the idyllic country life with a beautiful house and amazing garden. Our house has apartment dimensions and our garden is a work in progress.
Did you feel it was the right move straight away or was it a hard adjustment?
It was such a hard adjustment. I had become accustomed to the city. I missed my interaction at a coffee shop daily, my mothers group and all my friends, restaurants, take away, shops five minutes away, beaches, playgrounds and endless activities for the kids. However very early on in the move, I remember thinking how lovely it was that I only had one playgroup that I could attend, one daycare, one preschool and a choice of two schools. Life is made simple in the country and you just go with it.
We bought a farm and my husband continued to do the job he had in Sydney (remotely). I am an Interior Architect so I can also do my work remotely. We had a lovely first year but then the drought set in, and at the same time my husband chose a redundancy and we had our third child. Life has been tough to say the least – but we have come through the other side. The drought is ending – hopefully – and my husband is starting a company, so things are exciting.
You're quite isolated where you are - has the coronavirus made much of an impact on the way you're living now?
We live on a small farm, and our closest neighbour is about 2km away. When we see them we wind down our window and chat from about 2-3 meters away. We do a weekly shop in Mudgee, an hour away, and occasionally go into the local IGA to get a few items to keep us going for the week. My boys usually go to school and preschool on a bus. I was occasionally taking the two youngest kids to a playgroup once every two weeks, but really we spend a lot of time at home. I suppose the coronavirus has not made a huge impact on the way we live. We are just being more diligent – I will be the only one doing the weekly shop this week and we are not seeing anyone! However don’t get me wrong – I have found the last week of home schooling hard, and I only have one child at school! And I am missing the small amount of social interaction we have and although not much, the time I get to myself.
Whilst we are in the best place to avoid getting sick, if we do get sick we are in the worst place, as medical access in the country is very minimal.
As someone who's used to living a quiet, simple life, do you have any tips for people who are now in lockdown?
Try and remain connected with people. I lost connection with a lot of friends when we moved (I guess it’s out of sight, out of mind), but when I catch up with friends in person or via a chat group I feel a warmth inside me. A positive for me out of this whole COVID-19 time is that I am in contact with more friends now than ever, via chat groups, because everyone is in the same situation as me!
This one is a catch-22: remain connected, but also be present. Put down your phone and enjoy what you are doing at the moment. Be present with yourself (if that is possible) and be present with your children. Amazing things happen when you are present.
If you want to reduce your trips to the shops each week, meal plan. Georgia Harding from Well Nourished has an excellent ‘family’ she calls it, to help you meal plan. You have to pay for it but it is well worth it as far as I am concerned. If you can’t however afford to become part of the ‘family’, she uploads great recipes to her blog and Instagram that should help you get through this period.
Keep it simple and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Some days will go to plan and some days won’t. Some days I just have to take a deep breath and continue on. Country women are resilient and strong (they have to be), and I suppose I am starting to be one of them.
Lastly I really hope from this change people will become accustomed to slow living, and be able to create time and space for the things that matter most to us in life. This is something that took me four years but I now whole-heartedly appreciate!