Another year is coming to an end, so it’s the perfect time for some new year’s resolutions. Let me just say; I’m not a massive fan of resolutions because I’m not very good at sticking to them. Come the middle of January and all the plans for losing weight or whatever resolutions I made, are long forgotten. I guess I’m just not taking them too seriously. If I feel motivated to a change in my life, or improve on something, I like to do it there and then, not wait till 1st of January.
Saying that, I’ve come up with these new year’s resolutions for all mums who live abroad. Because life in a different country comes with some unique challenges, so I’m hoping you can improve your day to day expat experience with these small but powerful changes. Happy new year to all of you!
Visit home as much as you can
One of the biggest downsides of raising kids abroad is not having as much contact with grandparents and other family members as you would like your kids to have. There will always be missed birthdays, weddings, celebrations, Christmases but if you make it your priority to visit as often as your financial situation allows you, your kids can still enjoy some quality time with your loved ones, and they can experience the life in your home country first hand.
Keep in touch more
Stay connected to your family back home, especially your mum and dad. When I became a mum myself, I finally understood all the sacrifices and hardship my parents went through when raising three kids. Ever since Little E was born, I speak to my mum daily, whereas before it was more like once or twice a week. Make an effort to keep a regular contact with loved ones back home. Even if it’s just a 5-minute conversation. It will also allow your kids to stay connected and become familiar with your relatives, even see their faces when using Skype for example. And the best part? It won’t cost you a fortune like it was a decade or two ago.
Ditch the guilt
I don’t think we can leave the guilt behind us completely but giving it a real effort in the new year is one of my top priorities. When you raise your child away from your family, you feel like they are missing out on something. They won’t experience the childhood you had surrounded by family and unexpected, spontaneous weekend visits. But you know what? That’s ok. Your kids will have a different childhood, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good one. Living in a multicultural home and society will allow them to experience the diversity of this world in a way they wouldn’t otherwise experience back home. Instead of feeling guilty, divert your energy to find ways how to enrich your child’s life in the country you currently live in.
Embrace and explore your adopted country
In addition to my previous point, wherever in the world you might be, there are likely to be plenty of exciting places and activities you and your kids can enjoy together. Spend some time this year to fully appreciate your new home and surroundings. Get out there and see what’s on offer in your neighbourhood. Where I live, in West Yorkshire, England, there are literally endless opportunities for lovely family days out, and the good thing is many of them are free or relatively cheap. Creating wonderful childhood memories for your kids can be done, even if you live away from home.
Involve your child in your traditions
It is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child gets enough exposure to your traditions and customs. It is part of their identity as much as traditions of the country they were born in. It’s so easy to leave many of your traditions behind when you move abroad. And that’s what I did, to a certain degree. That was before Little E was born. These days, I try to keep many of our family traditions alive for her, so she can get to know our culture a little better. A bit of both worlds, old traditions with a twist of adding new traditions of your adopted country should work rather nicely.
Make some new friends
Without the support network around, you have to create a new one in your new home. Life as a new mum can be lonely, so trying to make some new friends is crucial. There are opportunities everywhere around you. Baby and toddler playgroups, playgrounds, classes. It may take some time before you meet a mum that you have more common with than simply the fact that you are both mums, but don’t get discouraged. Put some effort into building new friendships this year. The rewards of finding just one really good mummy friend are huge.
Prioritise teaching your child your mother tongue
One of the best ways for your child to stay connected to your family is by communication, which means teaching her your native language. I can’t imagine Little E not being able to talk freely to my family back home. At the moment, her vocabulary is still somewhat limited to MAMA, BABA and few more ‘words’, but I’m sure she’ll be chatting away fluently before I know it. This year one of my biggest priorities is to be consistent in talking to ger in the Slovak language. I haven’t always been persistent, so here’s a new challenge for me. Children, especially from a very young age, can learn languages a lot faster than us adults, so why not take advantage of this? The rewards and benefits are enormous.
Wishing you all a wonderful New Year 2018!