Having your family nearby when you become a parent is invaluable. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. There are many parents around the globe, who are doing all this parenting gig solo, without the support of grandparents or other family members.
When I moved to the UK all those years ago, I loved my new found independence. After some troubles at the beginning, it was good. Of course, I was missing my home, but I eventually adapted to the life in my new destination and enjoyed it, for the most part.
Things changed when I became a mum. I realised how different my baby’s childhood would be to my own childhood. I come from a large family and every holiday, and many weekends we spent visiting cousins, uncles, aunties or grandparents. Or they would come over to our house. My daughter will sadly not experience these family gatherings very often as both of our families live in different countries.
But this is just one aspect of raising your child in a foreign country. There is that feeling of loneliness and isolation that creeps in from time to time, and even anxiety that you are doing it on your own. There are days when you could use some extra hands to help with the baby.
You can’t really make up for the sacrifice you make when you raise kids far from your home, but there are things you can do to make your life a little bit easier.
Connect with other mums
If you don’t have the luxury of having family nearby, you need to think of other ways how to build a good support network around you. Maybe you already have a nice group of friends nearby. Great. If not, now it’s time to do something about it. You can join your local mummy and baby groups or one of the zillion other groups and courses that are specifically aimed at mums with babies or toddlers.
I know these groups are not for everyone, but when you don’t have any other social network around, it’s always a good idea to give it a go. What have you got to lose? Possibly a lot to gain. It may take time to build meaningful friendships, but once you do, you’ll be glad to have someone to talk to who is in a similar situation. And maybe even enjoy some days out together.
Maintain regular contact and visits
Before I had my baby, I used to talk to my mum once or twice a week. Now, I call her every day. Sometimes it’s only a five minutes conversation, but it helps me to feel more connected to home. My mum loves to hear the little one babbling in the background and talking to her on the phone. My parents aren’t the most tech savvy people, so any video calls are only made when my brother or sister are around.
I know, at the moment, the little one doesn’t understand it’s her grandma on the other side of the line, but it’s important to establish the relationship with grandparents and other family members early on. And without the regular physical contact, this is the only way you can do this.
You should also make it a priority to visit home as often as you possibly can. I know many people live on different continents from their family, so I still consider myself lucky to be able to visit at least a couple of times a year. There’s just nothing that can beat the family being together. Even more so now, when there are grandchildren around.
Enjoy special days, any days, even without family nearby
Baby’s early years. So many milestones to reach. When your little one learns a new skill or reaches yet another milestone, all you want to do is share the joy with your family. And if your family isn’t around, that’s when it really hits you. They don’t get to experience all the special moments of your baby’s life firsthand.
Thankfully, technology, again, can provide some solace. Recording videos and sharing them with our families can in some way maintain that connection with our loved ones and keep them updated about what the little one has been up to.
Baby’s birthday. Another bittersweet moment when you miss your family dearly. We spent her first birthday at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, and it was such a lovely day. So, even if your family isn’t there to join in the celebration, you can still create wonderful memories. Even if it’s just the three of you.
I want to make sure we provide the little one with as many different experiences, days spent outdoors as we can afford to. It’s a way of making up for the loss of not having cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents around.
Date nights? What are they?
Ok, so we don’t have date nights anymore, but at the moment, our focus has shifted to enjoy days out together with our baby. To be honest, we weren’t really going out on regular date nights even before the baby arrived. We enjoyed going out to pubs to have some traditional pub food instead. We still do that occasionally, only this time we have an extra little person with us. So, it’s usually in and out business. Peacefully enjoying a bottle of wine (or two)? No more. These days I’m lucky if I get to finish a small glass. But hey, you just adapt, like with everything else when you have a baby, right?
So this works for us at the moment, but if you really want to have the occasional date night, just the two of you, then paying for a babysitter might be your only option. Unless you have some trusted friends around that can offer to stay in while you go out. I would also make the most of the time when your family comes to visit or vice versa; you visit them. Yes, you probably want to spend time with them but a sneaky one off night out with your other half won’t hurt anyone.
Look at the bright side
It’s hard to believe but not having your family around has some unexpected perks. Although grandparents have only their best intentions at heart, their constant advice about how you should be raising your child can certainly get on your nerves sometimes. You know, when they tell you not to pick up a baby every time she makes the slightest noise, so you don’t spoil her.
I get it, parents just want to help, and they do help A LOT when I’m visiting, but there are times when I just want to scream from the frustration when I hear yet again what I’m doing ‘wrong’ and how I should be doing it instead. I’m not saying you can’t choose how you want to raise your kid when you live close to your family, but it’s easier when you live away from everyone, without too much interference from your family.
There is always good in any situation, right?
Living away from the loved ones, especially when children are involved can be tough, but you can manage. You will manage because you have to. It’s not always easy but you can find ways how to make it work.
Have you got any other tips that work for your family? Please share them in the comments below.