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Monday, 7 November 2016

Thoughts On Motherhood: Being An Expat-Mum

Good day everyone!

It's me again, sharing my thoughts and feelings about being a mother. Well... that combined with being an expat. Now everyone knows 2 things about families: you do not get to choose the family you are born in and you can't help loving them even when you have moments in which you would hurl a book at them (I always have a book about me, but you can pick your weapon of choice ;) ). Family and love are the most important things in our life yet we do not always admit it - or we admit it too late... Being a mother now makes me reflect on all the small things I might have neglected until now. Being an expat, being home away from home, you realise that in certain circumstances you wish that the mileage between your "homes" would very much be short... shorter than a stone throw away!
Baby walks will help you breathe in some fresh air and enjoy being out of the
house, seeing other people and hearing the regular sounds of life - do it daily! ;) 
The usual problem about being an expat mum is the fact that you will probably take the time off to be with the wee one and take care of him/her and collect memories together. But that also means that the 2 of you will see very much of each other but way less if other people you used to see on a daily/weekly basis. Life with a small one is totally different than the life in a couple and waaaaaaay different than life on your own. The time you have is no longer your own and the little free time that you will have you will desperately trying to use it as sleeping time. The nonprofit American Pregnancy Association estimates that up to 80 percent of new mothers suffer from “baby blues,” a mild form of depression... so imagine having a wee lad/lass and being stuck in the house with only your thoughts and the babies screams/cries day after day for several weeks/months - things can get rough! You sometimes just need to hear a word or let your thoughts take word and have someone listen. The problem is that your family is hundred miles away... and for example in my case 2-3 flights away (no direct connection).
Have some "Me time" - even if it's 15-30 min - and something your really like and that makes you smile. I love taking photos and wondering around H&M to see what they have new ;)) (you don't have to shop - window shopping counts as well)
If you think about it you just put together anxiety and/or depression with the added communication differences/difficulties (no matter how well you know and understand the language it ain't your mother tongue!), cultural differences and other possible barriers and you might understand that getting help can feel quite a burden in itself. Being an expat is not all roses and rainbows and unicorns... especially when you give birth and you feel the direct need for maternal help - especially in cases like myself when I was/am/will be very attached to your Mum. You need to figure out a program and a way in which you will also make yourself happy and not drop into depression, so here are some things that helped me:
1) having your family over for as long as they can, especially in the first weeks of the wee one - they will be of immense help! My Mum and Granny were with us for the first 6 weeks and that helped me more than I can say. We also had extra sleep due to that ;) (God bless them!)
2) keeping in contact with your close family - they will share the news with the bigger family ;) I love that my Granny is on Facebook. It makes things so easy: both me and my sister + Mum and Granny can have a Facebook chat in real time and even group call. 
3) having some "Me time" at least once a week (if possible). Have a bit of time for yourself when you are on your own, exploring your world. Do something that makes you smile and relax. Do something that gives you pleasure and boosts you up, even if it's just 15-30 min. Watch a short movie, run to H&M and see what's new, window shop, take photos of nature or architecture, read a chapter of your favourite book, have a short date/walk with your better half (if you have someone who can take care of the little one).
4) baby walks - they help you get out of the house on a daily basis and they are good both for you and your little bundle of joy. You can see other people, hear the daily sounds of life, see the leaves fall and contemplate even how your life has changed ;) enjoy them to the max - plus the wee one will probably be sound asleep due to the change in the air and the sounds.  
5) connection to other expat mothers like yourself - knowing someone else is struggling as you do or the fact that they have "been there, done that" and they can give you advice actually helps! I attended birth school and gym classes for pregnant women and I met there many lovely expat mums. Some at their first one some at their second or even third. If they can do it, so can you! Listen to their stories - some au help you more than you think ;)

How about you, expat mums, what is your opinion on the subject? What helps you through the day? What comforts you and makes you smile when your wee one has crying fits? Do tell :)

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Her LadyBug Baby Girl 🐞