I did not say anything at the time but the last month has been an interesting one for the Clevs.
On May 16th Mr Clev was sent home from work early, he had lost his job.
Thats right, we had just moved our 4 children here, opened a pre mortgage savings account, transfered all of our English stuff here…and then we faced the unknown.
I will say that the Irish welfare system is amazing. We signed on ASAP and followed 2 weeks of appointments, forms, meetings, and a lot of time racked up at the ‘civil welfare office’ and the tax office. We weren’t sure if we would qualify for anything as we had only just moved.
Athlone Civil Welfare office is the place to be. Jezza Kyle would have a field day. We had a lot of problems proving that we came to the country because of employment and family, and not to claim loads of dole money as lots of other people are currently doing. I had to go one day to register the children for PPS numbers, as I parked my mum truck outside a Pony and trap pulled up and off hopped 2 girls one of which had a baby, the man driving it whacked the pony and off it went again. I have never in my life seen so much flesh on display, or so much bling. They sat behind me. They were there to claim a welfare payment for First Holy Communions, if they got the money they were going to spend it on ‘sworfsky crystils from ebay’ to decorate the little girls veil with, they also hoped that her dress arrived in time and that ‘she dont ruin her fotas by poutin about de dress being heavy’. Seriously, it was very hard to not laugh, it was also very hard for me not to ask her where she got the dress from as it sounded amazing!haha!
Some of the questions I have been asked in the last month have been brilliant, they make you jump through hoops for the money.
“Are you related to your spouse….sure….not cousins or anything like that….even 4th cousins, you do get that you know”
“Did you give birth to all your children and are they from the same father”
“Is your own father related by blood, or by marriage or adoption”
“Why did you live in England before moving here…..and why did your parents chose to have you there and live there”
“Is your 5th baby going to live with you or are you acting as a surrogate”
“Have you ever been part of any terrorist organization, or plan to be in the future”
Ok that last one actually made me spit water on the table as I was laughing so much, I guess they really must see it all working there!!
When everything finally went through we learned we were entitled to collect nearly 500 euros a week from our local post office. We also get nearly 600 euros a month in Child Benefit (regardless of wage). Seriously, its a wonder why the economy is so bad and unemployment so high!! We are waiting to hear if we get medical cards, which entitles us to free GP visits. I guess there are some people who really are better off not working at all.
Dole collection day is fun. We go to Moate which is the biggest village near us, you stand in line at the post office with a selection of others (some obviously hard up genuine workers, some really young people who cant find work at all, some gypsy, some polish immigrants, some too old to work but with no retirement funds, some hard up farmers who make my heart bleed, a real cross section of society) and when its your turn you get given a wad of cash and a social welfare receipt. We went the first week and the bloke in front of us collected about 200 euros in cash, then walked straight next door into Paddy Power, either he knows something we dont or he is a plain idiot (or eejit) !!!
Mr Clev had some interviews and was unsucessful for one job. Its been great having him here, the kids love it. We walk to school every day and have a little planning meeting on the way back, what we are doing today, what needs to be done, what we would like to do. I have to say, when he has been unemployed in the past we have been very stressed, argued a lot, and generally been horrible to eachother. While Im not saying its been all sunshine and roses, we have been a lot less stressed and argumentative this time round.
I think we have just tried to look at this time as a time to spend together and enjoy our children, our new surroundings and family life. We set daily slots of time to do admin and computer jobs, bits of housework, then we try and spend time doing something fun. We started watching Mad Men together (we love it! I want to be Joan Holloway, ok maybe not her love life, but her wardrobe would be nice!!).
We have also started doing the Dave Ramsey total money make over, we dont have a lot of debt, and have paid off 2 in full already. It has been good to work on something together and towards a common goal to be financially better.
On Vivis birthday Mr Clev went into Dublin for an interview at a digital design agency (actually kind of like a modern Mad Men). We got the call last night to say the job was his!!!
The journey is not too bad, easier for him to get to than his last job. He has flexi hours, so can start and finish at different times (he will do 8-4 most days to miss traffic and be home for dinner), its a smarter dress code which means shirts and ties. He did take a pay cut for this job, but with that cut comes much less responsibility. No more heading up a team. While lots of people probably think this is an insane move for him we do have logic behind it.
We nearly have 5 children, we are blessed that they have all arrived to us while we are still under the age of 30. Most other people our age are just getting engaged, married and settling down. They are working on their careers. They are maybe buying houses (although thanks to the recession even this is near impossible for anyone under 30) Mr Clev earns a lot more money than some that we know, he has put in years of very hard work, very long and late hours. He has missed out on a lot of our children growing up. He has put his body through a lot and had a lot of stress. Im not saying he is the only man in the world to have done this, as millions do every day.
Mr Clevs last job was a Creative Lead.
We had – money, healthcare, a chance to save up quickly, and a prestigious job title.
We didnt have – happy children, a happy non stressed out daddy, a healthy marriage, nice clothes, flashy cars, lots of stuff. We were financially stupid.
I guess what I am trying to say is that at this point in our lives we have decided that its not worth it. long hours, loads of money, high pressure, never seeing him, kids unhappy because they miss daddy.
I would rather have less money in the month (we wont struggle, but we will have to budget) and have time together, a happy husband, a healthier marriage and children who get to see a happy dad walk through the door; Than what we have had in years past.
We are only 28. We have years to buy houses, to save for the kids future, to save for retirement, to go on holidays. Those things will come. But at the moment we just want to enjoy what we have, namely each other!Ok its a back to front way of doing things, but its how its going to be!
Well done Mr Clev for getting a job and good luck on your very first day, we all love you very much, and you are an excellent role model to our children!!!