Karolina Filosek

To be an expat mum without going crazy

Maternity in general is a though cookie. It is a time full of ups and downs, as well as joy and sadness.
I have never regretted my decision to become a mother. Even a double mum, and maybe even a triple soon. However, in spite of all, becoming an expat mum , it’s a real brave step. Most of expat mums don’t see any bravery in themselves. They do what is right and life must go on. Dear expat mum, you are a super hero. You leave abroad apart from family. All sicknesses, problems and daily issues, which would be split between you and your partner + family + friends + society , NOW YOU TAKE ON YOUR SELF. Yes we do have our partners, nevertheless look above how many other help possibilities you do cover by yourself.

I wrote recently article, about my 3 biggest shocks in Netherlands as en expat . Therefore, I invite you to read my guide: “how to be an expat mom and not go crazy” .

  1. Tip number one: find a group of moms who went the same journey as you. Check Facebook groups, there are internationals group of expats who integrate and help each other.
  2. Do not panic about language skills. I remember when went to England as au pair when I was 19. Very self confident about my language skills. At the airport I realized it’s very difficult to communicate in Polish-English in foreign country :). I bought my first ticket in sign language and showing my destination address. I must say it really looked the same in Netherlands, when I was talking to my first neighbor in Dutch. No, not everyone speaks english here. In the end it doesn’t matter. Your language skills will level up soon.
  3. Do not panic your kids don’t speak national language and will go to the local/international school. Believe me, these little genius learn so fast , that after few weeks , your kid is starting correcting your pronunciation. Big plus, you got your lessons for free .
  4. If you have any hobby, find a place where you can continue it. You will integrate with people who share your passion. Most easiest way! It doesn’t matter you don t get 100% what they say. Just do your staff and enjoy 🙂 If you don’t have hobby, well it’s perfect time to find it!
  5. Think 3 times before you sign your kid to speech therapist, for weekly stressful sessions. Yes, the teacher might say that your child doesn’t speak correctly their words. Your kid is bilingual therefore, it takes them more time than native speakers .
  6. Find yourself a job. Yes you can have one. I do not say it must be regular , fultime job. If you can , that is great if not, volunteering is also a job. It helps you to soak into environment sooner and creates network for future.
  7. Yes you can deliver baby in the foreign country too. I know some mums, who went back to their home countries just for delivery , cos they were so afraid to give a child here. First of all , do not listen to all horrible stories. As long as you are in civilized country, you do have right to have anesthesia, to choose your delivery position and to change your midwife if you do not like the current one. Moreover, after having experience in Poland and here, I can say: Dutch know what they say by natural pregnancy and delivery is the best. Nobody was panicking. Nobody asked me to take tones of hormones, just in case…During delivery midwife was always there with me and information was provided every 30 minutes. I felt great with Dutch delivery service. As, well as my husby,who was taken care of, too. 🙂
  8. If have this possibility, invite your friends and family as often as you can. The good old company was always something what cheered me up. And also, go and visit your own country. This helps to see things from different perspective.
  9. Explore new country. Make trips with kids. When my was small we were visiting the nearest cities by train together. During the weekend we traveled by car to see more.It s important for you to see something more than your street, shop and garden. This could cause depression, when the rainy fall comes…
  10. Make sure you have time for yourself. Involve in it your partner or hire a student nanny. You need a time to gather all thoughts in head and think clearly.
  11. Do sport. Maybe this sounds cheap, however the exercises release lots of stress. Moving abroad is the 3rd most stressful thing. More than this, if you are mum, I believe it’s 1st stressful thing! So make sure you do take care of this part, so you don’t go crazy! This also helped me to create small network of woman in the city. And we have one passion in common. Go for it!

Summarizing, I have to admit that moving to Netherlands was a stressful period. Being prepared for this change, before you move to new country , it’s best what you can do. You need to look after yourself. Ask for help. Treat yourself well. All obstacles will pass by.

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