Starting in mid-March, Sam and I decided to completely change our lives. We are working toward a “lifestyle career” where we work less and live more, and we both plan to work 4-day weekends.
Excuse me, I’m going to do a happy dance in the corner for a few minutes!! I can’t even type those words without smiling.
Keep reading to learn more and find out how you can work 3 days a week!
[You can see that this post was written in 2018. There is an update at the end of this post sharing the status of his 4-day weekend in 2021.]
What is a lifestyle career and how can you work a 3-day week?
A lifestyle career is basically about fitting your career into your life, rather than fitting your life into your career. A place where I spend the majority of my time doing what I love with the people I love, rather than spending time with colleagues at work (or in my case, working alone!)
Why do we spend 40-50 hours at work every week to make more money so we can buy more things we don’t have time to enjoy because we’re always working? And if you buy a bigger house, you have to work harder to buy more things to put in that house. Are you home just to eat and sleep between shifts at work?
We work hard just to pay for all these expenses, but one day you sit down and realize that all this isn’t actually making you happy…so what’s the point? Is it?
And we do most of that when we’re in our prime and have young families that need our attention.
When you’re in your prime, you want to have fun and enjoy life instead of spending most of your life working.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and am so grateful to be able to call this blog my career. But like any career, it’s still a job.
For the past two years, Sam and I have spent what little we had to send our children to day care so that we could go to work. This means I have to work more and send my kids to daycare more to pay for daycare. Oh my God seriously! ? Oh my God.
I don’t want to live like this and this is a feeling I’ve had for a while, but I didn’t really know how to break out of that cycle.
I was thinking about Sam working on “The Travel Hack” with me, but I’ve been thinking about going on blogging trips as a family together, working all the time on the trip, arguing about work, and not knowing who the kids are while we’re working. This seemed like a good option until we started arguing about whether to take care of him. It wasn’t fun for anyone!
Travel blogging may seem like a long vacation, but there’s actually a lot of behind-the-scenes work that takes up your time. Blogging travel is a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work, and Sam felt like he was just substituting one job for another.
Sam and I gave up on the idea of becoming a blogging couple and went back to our normal lives, but the idea still stuck with us. The idea that we work to pay for a lot of things we don’t really need.
What would happen if we got rid of all the things we no longer need?
When I sat down and looked at my spending, I realized I could easily shave around £1,600 off my monthly spending. Yes, it is. I’m going to do a whole other blog post about this because I was shocked too. We are not wealthy by any means, so this seemed like an outrageous amount.
And I’m not talking about selling your house and living in a tent, eating like a rat and never socializing again. These are all expenses that we can happily live without and still have a great life. Indeed, a large portion of these expenses are childcare fees, so cutting back on childcare hours can prove to be a big difference in household finances.
If we cut back this much each month, we could both reduce the amount of work we have to do…which led to the whole lifestyle career idea.
How do we plan to build our lifestyle careers?
First, Sam will be working less and I will be working more flexibly so we can have a four-day weekend as a family.
Sam has reduced his hours to work three days a week. He works Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, three days a week, and on weekends he works four days. FYI, Sam is a plumber/gas engineer and also does a lot of construction work for his father, who owns a construction company. Some people joke that working for his father-in-law would make it easier, but to be honest, I don’t think it means anything. My dad is probably a little more gentle with Sam, but treats him pretty much like any other employee.
In my case, things are a little different. Because as long as you have an internet connection, you can basically work from anywhere, anytime. Also, my definition of “work” is a little vague. I mean, his four-day vacation to Paris is technically work, so my lines are always a little blurry.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working on The Travel Hack like a normal 9-to-5, but especially since I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to ensure most of my blog writing. You don’t have to do this. The income is passive income. That means it’s mostly automated and I don’t have to do anything to keep it running.
I will try my best to enjoy the 4-day weekend and spend 4 days with Sam and the kids. On rare occasions I may need to be elsewhere, but I hope that’s rare!
The boys go to daycare on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so I’m able to do the bulk of my work for 10 hours a week, but I also plan on working more in the evenings. “Work” usually means writing blog posts, editing videos, and answering emails.
I used to do all my blogging work at night, but I stopped when my second son Joseph was born. I gradually got out of that habit because I was too tired to work after dinner and no longer had time to spend with Sam. I didn’t blame myself for that. We have two kids under 2 and we used to feel proud of ourselves just by getting out of the house every day, but now that the kids are a little older, things are much easier. And if Sam and I can spend the four-day weekend with her, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to not see her in the evenings.
Read more: Is it worth starting a blog in 2020 and other blogging questions!
What are we going to do with our 4-day weekends?
I don’t have any concrete plans yet, but I would like to spend most of the summer around Wales. We live on the border in North Wales so it’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway. It’s close and nice, but once you get deep into the countryside, you feel like you’re a million miles away from home.
As you may remember, we bought a caravan last year. We’re planning to leave our caravan in the seaside town of Abersock for the summer, so we’ll have a sort of base by the sea all summer, which I’m really looking forward to.
What does this mean for The Travel Hack?
There are no major changes to the blog. Because it makes no difference to you whether I write an article at 10 a.m or 10 p.m. This actual blog isn’t much different. But if Sam works less, we’ll have a lot more time to travel as a family, so you’ll probably see more family trips on the blog.
I have a rough plan for the end of the summer, basically just blogging about my family’s long weekend. It could be going far away, it could be at home, it could be around Wales, it could be closer to home around Chester, Liverpool or Manchester. I want to document my weekends in a really fun and authentic way and capture special memories to share on my blog. It will include personal posts and posts about family lifestyle, as well as travel tips and advice.
I spend a lot of time each week doing behind-the-scenes work that you don’t actually see, and I’m going to cut most of that out. Mainly collaborating with brands, writing for other blogs, pitching work, conferences, networking, etc. Basically, I’m going to reduce this kind of thing considerably. That means less brand work and sponsored collaborations. It will mean less money for me, but it will be good to go back to a simpler way of blogging. This is like going back to 2010 and just doing something fun and blogging about it purely for the memory.
But like everything in life, nothing is permanent, so we just have to listen. If that doesn’t work out and you don’t have any money, you can go back to normal. If you enjoy spending more time as a family or traveling together, you’ll do it more. We hope that eventually Sam will get used to earning less and that he will be able to take more vacations and go on big trips with him. We hope he will spend a month or two in New Zealand. Sam would like to go on several ski trips next year.
We will never be a nomadic family, but we hope 2018 and 2019 will be great years of travel for us!
Update from 2021
So how are we spending our four-day weekend? And how has that changed as your family has grown and the COVID-19 pandemic has affected you?
I did this structured 4-day weekend for about a year, and it was awesome. It gave us so much freedom and flexibility. I especially liked Sam being more involved in childcare and not feeling like I was 100% responsible for the kids.
In 2019, we had our third baby and decided it was time to expand on our home to accommodate our growing family. Sam is a builder so he did 90% of the building work himself and it was great to have his 4 day weekend. He completed his three-story addition in less than nine months. Of course, it was really hard for him because he would do some work on the house on the “weekend” and then go to work, but it saved us an absolute fortune and got everything done very quickly. I meant it.
Read more: What is it like to have three children?
And: Q&A about my big house renovation and addition
We started 2020 with new plans. Sam works full time during term time and takes most of the school holidays off.
By 2020, George, 5, started school, and Joseph, 3, also qualified for 30 hours of free child care, meaning he was in daycare all day. This meant I was restricted to the school week and couldn’t make the most of my four-day weekend. Sam and I were often at home twiddling our thumbs, waiting for George to finish school, so we decided it was best for Sam to go back to work full time for now.
COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection
And then the coronavirus hit! What a good decision it was for Sam to go back to working full time since all of my jobs in the travel industry fell off a cliff. Sam returned to work whenever possible while I stayed home with the kids.
Read more: Lockdown routines, homeschooling and working from home with three kids
We’re four months into 2021 and I’m basically just taking it one day at a time. Who knows what will happen in the next few months!?
Sam is still working full time, which is a huge blessing for me since my income has been reduced due to the pandemic. He will probably spend most of his summer vacation in our caravan.
Currently, I work two morning shifts a week, but I would like to increase the number of shifts in the future. Funny thing is, at the beginning of this post I wrote in 2018, I said I wanted to work less and spend more time with my kids, but after spending an entire year with them, I had virtually no work at all. After I didn’t, all I thought about was what I wanted to do. It is the job! I want to put Alba in day care full time and focus solely on my work!
I think this shows that it’s all about balance and flexibility, and that you have the opportunity to find the balance that’s right for you. The balance can change over time and even from month to month, and it’s great to have that flexibility.
Having flexible options
The good thing about our lives now is that we can choose exactly what we want to do. If you want to work full time next month, you can. I put Alba in the nursery and hibernated in my office for a month so I could concentrate on work. And over the next month, I was able to go back to work every morning. Then I take a month off completely and then go back to work full time. Nothing has to be forever, just do what works for your family at the time.