The Full-Time Family: What Happened When We Gave Up the “American Dream”


As I stood in the public shower of Lake Louisa State Park helping my 7-year-old wash large, hard grains of sand off her calves I smiled at her barely visible snaggle-toothed smile. Cascades of dirty blond hair fell over her face, and for about the billionth time I fell madly in love with my firstborn.

“Are you having fun on this trip,” I asked.

Because it was important to me that this worked for them too.

“Yes!” She exclaimed. “I’m excited to go for a hike!”

“I don’t just mean today,” I answered. “I mean the whole trip, living in a new place?”

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“It’s awesome!” She answered happily. “There’s so much to do, so many things to see, and new people to meet that me and Bailey don’t even fight anymore like we did at home! We’re having too much fun to fight!

Her comment made me smile even further, and I could certainly relate to the circumstances she described. I couldn’t really explain what had shifted, but it wasn’t just our geographical location that had changed. Our mindset had changed. A life that had seemed so stressful and hurried suddenly didn’t seem so much. Here’s my best example.

The other day we went grocery shopping. Grocery shopping, especially with three, young children, has not always been my favorite thing. In fact, I didn’t like it at all. It was a chore. It was this thing I had to do, that seemed like just one more thing to complete. I was always flustered, rushed, and aggravated. We would plow through WalMart Supercenter on two wheels, me throwing Danimals and fruit snacks at my toddler to keep her tamed, and I would hate it.

So here I found myself on a Wednesday afternoon leisurely strolling through Publix, and it hit me how good this large, grocery shopping trip felt. I sashayed through the frozen foods and commented to my husband, “this is so nice.”

He agreed.

I beamed with the fact that I didn’t feel rushed. I was simply enjoying myself. I didn’t feel like I was completing a chore, even though I was. I just felt relaxed. To the max.

As we were driving home from our Saturday, day trip to a State Park a few miles from where we were currently staying I grasped my husband’s hand tightly.

“I love you,” I said. “All the times over the years I took the children places I always missed the fact you couldn’t be with us. This is wonderful!”

He agreed.

Before my husband worked all the time and our relaxing days together were far and few in between. Even on his off day, he would be doing things for the store. Now I was working, but just three days a week. So the other four felt like we were on vacation. Over the past year, we had gotten weary of the daily grind that was called the American Dream. It seemed crazy to work all the time for a huge house you didn’t even have time to enjoy, rush here and there to multiple obligations, and spend more time on to-do lists then you did simply enjoying each other’s company. So that’s changing for us.

The decision to become a full-time family, and spending more time together has been the right one. We’re downsizing, traveling, and focusing on what’s important in life. We still have a mortgage at home, with our house still on the market, but we are actively working to pay down debt and dropping unnecessary materialistic possessions that have kept us stressed and chained down. It’s a process, but one I am happy to be a part of.

Today in our temporary, Florida home we went to Lake Louisa State Park. Here’s some pictures from our day.

The boardwalk to Lake Louisa swimming beach.

A little marshy!

Ben in the background checking for critters.

Playground on the beach.

All smiles!

Take notice of the tea-colored water.

There it is.

Seriously looks like tea!

I didn’t let them go much deeper than that, but some people swam far out.


Ben reading the gator notice. Swim at your own risk!

This isn’t the swimming area of Lake Louisa, but another lake in the park called Lake Dixie. This is a fishing pier. That’s an alligator that swam right up to the pier. A local fishing there said he’s never seen one do that, that someone must have been feeding it. Lucky sighting for us.

I’ve never seen an alligator in the wild before, nor so close.

The baby waving at the alligator.

Even the drive through the park was neat. It’s cool to see how local woodlands look in different parts of the world.

State parks are definitely our fave. We plan to visit many!

Brie Gowen
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Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at