Life as an expat mum can be so rewarding, but it can also be really, really challenging. We are the go-to person for everything family related, and it doesn’t end there. Trying to stay on top of it all can be exhausting, let alone sometimes really lonely too. So today I’m sharing my 9 essential resources to ensure survival as an expat mum.
- Find Your Tribe
How does the saying go… I didn’t know I was lost until I was found. Something like that? Attending the FIGT Conference in 2019 was a total epiphany for me. I had been following people on social media, and finally meeting them in person, well it felt like I was coming home. You can read my full reflections on the conference experience here.
If you’re not already a member of FIGT, I strongly suggest that you check it out, as an expat mum there is so much information and research being done on Third Culture Kid’s and the impact moving abroad can have on your kids.
2. Create Space
Creating space in your emotions and your mindset is essential as an expat mum. And while mindfulness is so important, and it should be a part of our lives, sometimes we need a little deliberate practice and support.
I will happily admit, this is a space I am still learning, exploring and discovering, but my go-to for support is Jodi Harris (World Tree Coaching). Jodi has a new FB group which is a brilliant space for learning more and exploring what mindfulness means to you. And let’s face it, as a parent mindfulness is paramount!
3. Find Your Purpose
As a mother, but also as an expat, we lose a sense of self when we move abroad. We stop investing in ourselves and focus primarily on the needs and worries of our family. Some might say by living abroad we gain perspective and resilience (and so much more), but to have that gain you also have to be able to process what you’re experiencing.
That’s where Expats on Purpose comes in. Sundae Bean has a brilliant podcast, Expat Happy Hour and if you’re not already subscribed, do it now – it’s a necessity in expat life. But with her FB Group, Expats on Purpose, Sundae adds a different dimension and provides a safe space to share and connect.
It’s through the support of the people in Expats on Purpose that I have developed a true sense of who I want to be, as a mother, a spouse, and a business owner.
4. Understand the Impact on Your Kid
Knowing and understanding the research behind what happens to your kid when you move abroad is so important, and the amazing people at The Expat Kids Club are phenomenal in this space! Subscribe to their newsletter and each month the team discuss their research and provide resources around a different theme, from bullying to anxiety, from gratitude to grief. I am always blown away by the quality of the resources and content shared, you won’t be disappointed either.
5. Build A Portable Business
If like me, you move often, with little notice and you never know how long you will stay, then maybe you need to liberate yourself and start your own portable business.
Doing the Business Idea Accelerator program with Amel and Sundae not only helped me to understand myself (my skills and strengths but also my interests and passions) but provided me the roadmap I needed to test and launch my own business, et voila… Expat Parenting Abroad.
I shared my reflections during an interview with Amel at the end of last year, where I shared how starting my business has not only helped me but made me a better mum in the process.
Amel from Tandem Nomads is such an amazing source of inspiration, her experience is second to none and she brings it every week with a podcast and her amazing FB Group where you will quickly discover no question is too big or too small!
Check it out, maybe starting a business is the solution you’re looking for?
6. Follow Your Favourite Bloggers
It is so important that you find at least one person who is talking your language, someone who articulates perfectly all the stuff that’s going on in your own head. Not only so you know you’re not alone, but often these people have that little nugget of wisdom that can literally change your life.
For me, that blog is Expitterpattica. Lucille has a beautiful writing style that I have always been able to relate to, and I credit her with changing my life!
When you find that one (or two) who become your favourite, don’t just read the one post you’ve stumbled across. Subscribe or follow them so you get updates every time they post new content, you don’t want to miss out!
7. Memories and Personalised Gifts
One of the hardest parts of living away from family and friends is knowing what to give them as a gift. We are not in touch with their everyday lives to know what they really need, so it becomes a bit of a gamble.
It need not be any more, there are some amazingly creative people producing personalised gifts. Check out Cath Brew’s Drawn To A Story, where Cath creates personalised drawings and cartoons especially to meet your needs. Melanie Freeborn is a very talented artist and she is able to turn her beautiful designs into the perfect gift, check out Sun Hobo for more ideas and inspiration. I also use ArtKive to store the girls own artwork, and then create photobooks and other gifts from their own creations, it means I don’t have to physically keep all of their art either (always a challenge when moving so often!).
8. Know What’s What
One aspect I have always found really difficult while living abroad, is staying up to date with movies and books for the girls. Maybe this is unique to living in Asia, but knowing what movies and books are being released and which age group they are ideal for is so hard to stay on top of.
Then I discovered Common Sense Media. Talk about life changing! I just plug in the title and I get reviews as well as summaries of language, violence, themes etc that are used within the movie or the book itself. I have not been misled or disappointed yet.
9. Dance It Out!
There is nothing better than getting up and dancing with your kids. You will burn off some of that excess energy, and you will laugh (a lot and loudly!). I remember a friend visiting us in Delhi and we cranked up the music… “oh no, please don’t tell me sober dancing!?!” needless to say at the time she didn’t have kids. But if you feel a little shy about dancing, then are some great resources available on YouTube!
A teacher actually introduced us to Go Noodle, really simple and fun songs that the girls can remember and sing and dance to long after we’ve turned off the TV. The girls also love Kidz Bop, especially the dance along videos where they can learn and try out new moves.
If I want to keep the girls interested when out walking and exploring, then my go to is GeoCaching, aka treasure hunting! It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, at home or on holidays, there are always one or two treasures to find!
Do you have a favourite resource that I’ve missed? Please do share in the comments and together let’s make our expat lives a little easier :-)!