At some point last Spring, it became clear lockdown wasn’t going to be two weeks. For the first couple of months of quarantine, Steven and I managed our full time jobs with young kids at home, plus an energetic puppy. As our mental health became a concern, we slowly outsourced some of our responsibilities and found a manageable existence.
The one area we felt the most disappointed was with our daughter’s day. Virtual school may be a better option for some families, but it’s not for us. My husband half-joked that if school went virtual in the fall, he wanted her to take a “gap year”. The thought of her sitting in front a computer for 6 hours a day didn’t appeal to us.
School went virtual in the fall, and we decided to go somewhere else for real. Even if the school experience isn’t ideal, the upside is we then have the flexibility to do it from anywhere. If second grade turns out to be a wash, there’s something to be said for cultural immersion, right?
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Where in the world to go?
First, we considered somewhere else in the United States. Our daughter starts around 8am EST so going west would mean a too early start to her day. Going south became problematic due to the climbing covid cases, and going north was a problem for no one but me, who dislikes frigid temperatures. Ditto skiing.
There’s also the matter of an upcoming presidential election. Our country has felt like a foreign place to us since 2016 – not because of who won or lost but because of the resulting anger, divisiveness and fear. The 2020 presidential election has the same lose/lose vibe to it. Both Steven and I were ready for a break.
We dismissed tropical islands because I’m pretty big on a certain kind of Christmas. I want sweaters and hot chocolate, not bikinis and rum drinks. The next requirement was a place where English is widely spoken. While I have a good grasp of French, and my kids have a drop of Spanish, we felt there would be enough to challenge us without a language barrier.
The choice became quite clear: England. The best Christmas movies take place in England (hello The Holiday and Love Actually), clearly everyone speaks English, and the time difference is a doable 5 hours ahead of New Jersey.
Where in England?
The last decision was deciding where in England to set up for 3 months. We first considered London because Steven and I love it there and have always said it’s the only city other than New York where we could imagine living. But what if there’s another lockdown? Our dog needs an insane amount of exercise, and the last thing we want is to be cooped up with him in an apartment (or flat).
That’s how we settled on the Cotswolds. We had planned a summer vacation here for the summer so I’d already done some preliminary research. I found a cottage near the hotel where we’d originally planned to stay. Then I rebooked our flights from the summer and secured a car. A woman I’d been on a yoga retreat with last year used to live in the Cotswolds so I asked if she knew of anyone to help us with the kids, and she did! After exchanging messages and speaking over the phone, I hired a wonderful woman who starts tomorrow.
More to come
The final step was our puppy, Abraxos. There was no way I could leave him for 3 months, so I became determined to bring him to the Cotswolds with us. The process was quite complicated so I’ll save those details for a future post.
Now it’s been two weeks, quarantine is up, and we are finally finding our rhythm. Stay tuned as I share my observations and experiences!
Tell me: if you could go anywhere in the world for 3 months, where would you go?