A question I get asked regularly is how we achieve the work vs life balance and hot damn, it’s going to take me a minute to answer that one. Mostly because this is honestly my biggest struggle about life on the road. Aside from the struggle of being present in the moment vs trying to capture it for social media, but that’s a whole other blog post that will take more than 2 minutes.
My reality is that I own my business and this year of travel is not a holiday for me. Yes, we get to see and do things that we wouldn’t be able to see and do if we’d stayed in our home in Cape Town, but it doesn’t pay for itself guys. We aren’t like a lot of other families that may do this (especially overseas), where they sell everything, jump into their van and make money through pimping themselves out on social media. Yoh that’s harsh. But you know what I mean.
I needed the security of a life to go back to. I wanted my home and work life to still be there when I get back, because we are coming back. Also I can’t handle using my blog to get free stuff and the resultant pressure of needing to make every post amazing. It starts feeling staged, not true to us and I get nervous twitches from the pressure. I can’t live like that. When people contact me to set something up it’s different. I just can’t bring myself to ask for it. Not shaming anyone who can, good on ya mates, keep going. But I feel weird and stupid so can’t do it.
The other factor is that I love what I do. I really do. Weird to say that about short term insurance but it’s true. I like working with a variety of different people and being able to help them save money every month but not compromise on their cover. Even better being able to help them through a claim and leave them feeling happy afterwards. I co-own our insurance brokerage, Incompass Insurance Consultants, that provides specialised advice on short term insurance for the guest house / AirBnB industry as well as personal and commercial insurance. We do the shopping around with reputable companies so that you don’t have to. I don’t usually talk about it but I figured, why not. It’s a big part of who I am and obvs quite relevant to this post.
So, how do we keep the balance?
How’s this for naive? Before we left we thought that we would maintain normal life, but just live it out on the road. We’d wake up, drink our coffee while we put in a couple of solid hours behind the screen – the kids would do school. We’d use the afternoons to see the things and then the evenings to catch up on any missed emails. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. Life is so different though.
The reality is that getting up is the easy part. The packing away the bed, sorting out breakfast and just setting out the van for the day takes forever. We eat breakfast together and then crack open the laptops and answer some mails before heading to the shops to stock up or try and see something that doesn’t stay open in the off season of a small town. The kids do school, I work a bit more. If really necessary I squeeze in some extra work in the evenings. That’s usually enough. On a good day.
On a bad day we’re moving places, which takes even longer because after breakfast we need to make the van travel safe. Packing everything that found its way outside, putting heavy things in the car, getting the kids ready – you name it. Then we spend anything from an hour to 7 hours driving to the next location. On these days you’ll find me working in the middle of the night to make sure that it gets done.
And that’s when we have internet.
Oh my golly goodness, the internet has given me a run for my money. Literally. I’ve had to go to sit in coffee shops of small towns for entire afternoons or book in at expensive hotels in Lesotho because it’s the only way to get decent connection. The data situation in South Africa is a freaking scandal. Don’t even get me started. How to kill opportunity for people to work remotely and actually see our beautiful country.
Then the part of the whole work life balance that kills me is when my kids go on about me working again. “Oh Mom’s staring at her laptop”, “Mom is so desperate for the internet”, “Go ask Dad, Mom’s working again” or the like. It’s stupid really considering I see them WAY more than I ever did when I worked and they were at school, but it still cuts to the core a bit.
The work vs life balance is a daily struggle
One that I sometimes get right and often totally skewed, to either side really. But despite it being a constant battle, I’d not give up easily. It’s SO worth the effort to get it right.