How do I manage if I’m used to working full time? What do I do now I’m a trailing spouse?
At a Coffee Talk I hosted earlier this year, this question came up, and it is such a common topic.
In the expat world there are lots of different types of trailing spouse. From those who are on a finite assignment and treat the experience as an extended holiday, to those who are lucky enough to continue working. From those who throw themselves into volunteering, to those who embrace being a stay at home mum focusing on supporting their kids and their spouse. This summary is very ‘generic’ and there is no such thing as a generic expat. And, it is by no means exhaustive but it does give a sense of how varying expat life can be.
I have wavered between being lucky enough to get a job, to volunteering all the hours I have. But when we moved to Taipei I made a decision to do something for me. I had no idea what that meant, or where that decision would take me. But I was adamant I was going to do things differently with this move. And that’s often an unspoken benefit of being a trailing spouse, you can reinvent yourself with each move. You get a clean slate.
It took a long time for us to move into our apartment, but once we were in, I started searching. I read every blog post, newspaper article I could find, trying to discover the inspiration I needed. I talked to everyone and anyone who was interested, asking questions about what they do, how they got into it, trying to find what worked for me.
Then Lucille did a post on Expitterpattica about why being an expat you already had the key skills required to be an entrepreneur. And it resonated. At the end of her post, she linked to a number of organisations that can help you become a successful entrepreneur. And I found Amel, at Tandem Nomads.
Timing is everything! I was ready, and Amel and Sundae were starting a course, Business Idea Accelerator (BIA). They took me from zero to hero! I had no idea what I wanted to do, or what I could do for that matter. After the five month programme, I had a clear business concept and I was launching my prototype. Et voila – Expat Parenting Abroad was founded.
Then last week, the girls were busy getting ready for bed and I was quickly sending a couple of emails while they cleaned their teeth. Madam S wanders down after, “what you doing mummy?” “I’m working on my business darling”… she paused… “but daddy’s the one that works in our family”. Ummm… “well yes he does darling, but mummy is now working too. Mummy now has her own business, and people pay me money to help them”. Big wide eyes met mine, “you mean you can be a mummy and work, you can do both!”
Wow! One of my goals when I was doing the BIA programme, was to show my girls that anything is possible. That as a girl, a woman in this world, you can do whatever you set your mind to. So here I am meeting these big, beautiful eyes, and she is so excited for me. She’s giving me the biggest hug, and offering to help of course (she is my BFF!!).
If you’re a trailing spouse and you’re struggling to find your purpose, I strongly recommend joining Sundae’s Facebook Group, Expats on Purpose. I also recommend checking out Tandem Nomads and seeing what other people are doing, honestly people are doing some incredible stuff!
Have you found your purpose as a trailing spouse? Please share in the comments where you are at, I would love to hear from you.
ps – if you are seeking to find your purpose, I have a unique coaching package you may be interested in. You can find out more here 🙂