When I started my own business, it began as a way for me to have something of my own; something that I could control and find self-accomplishment in amidst being a military spouse. Since then, I have learned ways to be successful and confident in even the most turbulent times, and now support my family of six.
Recently my husband and I, our four children, cat, dog and snake embarked on a journey that has changed our lifestyle and mindset from the average family. We sold our 2,600 square foot farmhouse and two acre mini-farm, donated and sold almost 70 percent of our belongings and moved into our 320 square foot converted school bus.
Yes, you read that correctly. Our family of six moved into a Thomas school bus.
With the unexpected news of my husband, Johnny’s, involuntary separation after 13 years of service, we finally had the sole choice to decide what we were going to do. Originally, we were just trying to survive until retirement only seven years away, and we could have done that. But is that a fulfilling life?
We wanted more but felt defeated and paralyzed in the everyday routine. When presented with the option, I pushed as hard as I could for Johnny to leave the government workforce behind. The Special Forces life is demanding and exhausting for everyone in the family. Plus, I missed my best friend. The military life took its toll on each of us including our relationship.
As my business partner and I began finding a groove, Johnny and I chose to convert the bus and take our show on the road. The decision was not made lightly and I knew that working remotely was going to take even more out of myself, especially with me adding on the responsibility of running my family’s new brand, theBhive family, which takes a lot of mental space and grunt work to manage.
There are no easy tricks to growing an online presence, running a business and dealing with military life. There are also no tricks to transitioning through big life changes, but there are things we can do to create a more inspired-flow in our lives.
Embrace the modern village mentality
I have always been an over-communicator. I am open, free and loud with my thoughts, and over the years I’ve learned that I am not always everyone’s cup of tea. And I’m OK with that. However, in my earlier years, I felt the pressure to fit in and meet everyone’s expectations before my own.
Once I began setting my expectations for myself and sticking to them, I began cultivating a network of people that I wanted to be around and would fulfill me. This meant I had friends that were military spouses, military spouse entrepreneurs, civilian entrepreneurs, veteran entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms, farmers, and friends by association of my children.
Each niche of people I immersed myself in served a purpose. I also had to prioritize them. For instance, I wasn’t a “PTA mom,” but I befriended those that were. I made sure to donate supplies and volunteer at every chance, because I wasn’t able to be in the classroom or attend meetings and class events as much as I wanted to.
Because of the help and kindness I did give, in turn, that community helped me stay on top of things and assisted with my children. In the end, they knew my husband was gone, I was wrangling four children alone, and I sincerely appreciated their support.
I worked hard to develop friendships. I made every effort to go out, be present, be open-minded and deepen my relationships within my family. I also made sure that my marriage was solid, intuitive and intertwined. Johnny and I were very confident in making our decision to become mobile, but we also knew our network would support us and want us to thrive just as much as we do.
Find power in routine and relaxation
Burnout is a real thing. Both Johnny and I are now at home full time with our children, and we have established guidelines to help manage our routine; otherwise, it’s a free-for-all.
Generally, everyone is up, fed and working by 9 a.m. While our children engage in their workbooks, Johnny and I begin balancing our own work for the day.
Johnny is the lead homeschool teacher. In the mornings, he works with the children on the day’s topic and answers questions. As they finish up their schoolwork in the afternoon, they’ll make lunch then go outside to play, help Johnny with bus work or stay inside to read or play.
Working remotely is a wonderful thing because it allows us to truly be nomadic and manage our freedoms. It’s not that it’s any easier. Being an entrepreneur is hard enough, but throw in full-time traveling and managing a household, and my time is quickly spent. Therefore, we utilize routines to help us work hard and play harder.
Learn to let go
Military life teaches us to let go of a lot of things including expectations, timelines and possessions. This is why our community is considered to be resilient.
I used to have a lot of things that I hoped to get to: projects, ideas and things that made it look like our house was filled. Going tiny, though, allowed us the opportunity to evaluate what we really needed and truly wanted.
Now that our living space is so small, the way we decorate isn’t overwhelming; in fact, it’s sensible. While we still find ourselves downsizing to maximize our space, it feels good to minimize.
Being able to let go is just another passage of life. We had to reach a point where we realized all sorts of things didn’t truly matter and simply had to let them go. Going tiny is definitely a possibility for anyone.
Besides, I already spend most of my time around my children: we eat together, watch movies together, and spend most of our time outside. Johnny’s involuntary separation meant that he, too, could join us full time, for the first time, and it has been a great bonding experience.
Embrace a new way of life
Our home is wherever we are, which is currently Florida, but will soon be a handful of other states. Johnny recently completed his bachelor’s degree from Norwich University, and currently is a homeschool teacher, freelance writer and lead bus converter.
I co-own The Hive & Co. that is a digital marketing agency. I am also the creator of theBhive family blog and vlog where we share our family adventures.
Our children spend their days learning in different ways, whether it be from workbooks, their iPad, swim lessons, practical life lessons from relatives, building a converted school bus with dad or running a business with mom.
We are already enjoying this lifestyle and are continuing to grow and learn. Each path of life comes with its own stressors, and we’ve learned that it’s all about how we choose to manage them.
Follow the Bissonnette family as they document this new chapter online.