We feel so torn. While we work really hard to meet new people and find our tribe when moving abroad, we also word really hard to maintain the relationships we have back ‘home’.
So how do we maintain those ‘home’ relationships with family and friends?
I know from the mums in my support groups, that many of us feel like we are the only ones making any effort. And that is probably true, but does it really matter? So what if you’re the one who always phones, as long as you are talking and connecting, it really is a small price to pay.
Put it in perspective, when we move abroad we are ‘out of sight and out of mind’. I don’t mean it as a negative thing, just that family and friends are busy with their own lives. They don’t stop and think of us when that song comes on the radio. They don’t stop and think of us when they see a familiar flower. They hear it and see it all the time. It’s us who have those little reminders, and us that feel that emotional pull.
Thankfully, there are brilliant tools available now that make keeping that connection easier, from free online video calling through WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and so on; to TouchNote which is an app you can add your own photo and send a snail mail postcard to friends and family.
So instead of getting bitter, when you hear that song playing, send a quick message “hey, just heard xxx and I thought of you, miss you x!” I often leave voice messages instead of a text message, this is really easy to do in WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage (if you have an iPhone). When you see that familiar flower, take a pic and send it, “this made me think of you today”. You know your family and friends will appreciate it, and it will literally warm your heart to feel that connection.
To help your kids feel connected, talk about family often. At the moment I am loving Facebook memories, and each morning showing the girls who they were meeting and spending time with x years ago! When at home I have loads of photo albums, and we often talk about our favourite memories of different people.
It can be super fun to arrange an online playdate for your kids. When Miss J connects with her little bestie from Delhi they literally take the phone into their rooms and compare books and toys. It is so sweet to hear them chatting about what their favourite is, and ooohing and aaahing over each others things!
For birthdays I take a little video of the girls singing Happy Birthday and send a video message to friends and family. Sometimes I send a recording from a few years ago as a bit of a throw back too, it can be rather amusing as their accents seem to change slightly with each move!
In addition, I often plan an ice breaker when we go home to see cousins. For example, at Christmas time I took a gingerbread house for them to assemble and decorate together. After half and hour it’s like old times again, but it helps them to find that space.
So when you’re moving abroad recognise that it is hard, but there is loads that you can do to make staying connected with friends and family back home easier. While it may be a little effort, it is totally worth it!
How do you stay connected with home? Please do share your tips, together let’s make the transition easier!