Many, if not most, people dream of raising their child in the countryside. Clean air, a safer environment, less stress, allowing them to run through fields and climb trees all sounds so perfect.
My husband and I had this lifestyle. We met on the Island of Jersey, where we lived for over 7 years before moving to a little village in Scotland with mountain views out of our living room window.
So when we announced our move back to Leeds a little before our child’s first birthday, I’m sure most of our friends thought we were crazy.
In fact, I think we questioned ourselves a few times. We had spent the first 10 years of our lives together categorically stating we would never go back to living in a city. Mr TiredHappy grew up in a town near Johannesburg and I grew up in North Leeds. We both had great childhoods but always dreamt that our child would grow up in the countryside.
We tried to resist the pull of the city when we moved down to Yorkshire and spent a few months living in the market town of Otley, but a combination of a bad house and a PITA commute to drop the little monkey at her Grandparents before work meant that within 5 months we had moved to North Leeds Suburbia.
The most surprising fact is that since the move I’ve felt settled and at home for the first time in years and I’m really happy here. We have a lovely house, with a great garden and very importantly for us a second reception room which is used as a playroom that we can close the door on at bedtime.
We live a few minutes walk from vibrant Chapel A and the same walk to my parents. There is a nearby yoga studio I can once again practice my beloved Hot Yoga at, something I’ve not been able to do since leaving Jersey.
There is such as abundance of toddler groups and activities I can’t fit them all in. She already does gymnastics and Sunday school crèche. Next term she will be starting swimming lessons again and hopefully ballet. If I didn’t have to work we’d also do Makaton signing classes, Messy Church and Forest School!
We have tickets to Geronimo, In the Night Garden Live and are going to see the Tour de Yorkshire pass through, all of which would have meant long car trips in Scotland.
We have found a fabulous church with a great children’s offering and a very warm welcome.
The countryside is less than 10 minutes drive from our house and is where we spend a lot of our down time.
But, the best thing of all is having so much family around. All my family, except my sister,
live within a few miles. We have had great parties, drop-ins for coffee and help when needed. Rather than a few pictures on WhatsApp and a visit every month or two they can see Monkey growing and developing and they are part of her life too.
I wonder, now we are here and happy, if I was just striving too much for a different lifestyle and ignored the fact I never felt settled. Don’t get me wrong, Jersey was beautiful and it broke my heart to move from our friends and the mountains in Scotland, but deep down I don’t think I ever felt like I truly belonged there.
Who knows where we might end up years down the line. I wonder if we will end up back in Scotland, in the mountains we loved but with a baby couldn’t fully appreciate. Or, will we end up by the sea again and have our surf and beach lifestyle we enjoyed so much in Jersey.
Maybe we have just changed as people and have realised that having family around is actually the most important thing Could we end up growing old in suburbia?