Expat life: Raising a family in another part of the world
Lanese and I met as students in Stellenbosch and when I saw she recently started a blog, I reached out to ask her to share more about what expat life is all about for their young family.
Enjoy the read:)
I’m originally from a small town in the Eastern-Cape and currently living in Germany with my husband, Sidney and our beautiful 4-year-old boy Liam.
I met Sidney, while we both were studying at Stellenbosch University. After graduating we decided to pack our bags and boarded a plane to London, England together. For us, this was the best decision and one that we will never regret. About 6 years later our perfect little miracle boy, Liam was born in the Westminster Maternity Suite at St. Thomas Hospital. I think all moms will agree that the moment you see your baby for the first time you discover a whole new level of love. We were lucky enough to have both my mom and dad with us in London when Liam was born, and my mom stayed another month just to help us settle in as a new family of three.
Being a family of three changed our life as expats on many levels. It was the first time I didn’t feel so great about living abroad. I wanted my family to be close to us. I wanted them to share in the experience of seeing him grow up and achieve new milestones... I also knew how hard it was for my parents to say goodbye to their only grandson and take a 10-hour flight, to another country. I was feeling really homesick for the first time since being an expat, far away from home and not being able to just get in the car and drive to visit family or close friends.
Breaking news and new beginnings
A few weeks after Liam was born Sidney received a job offer from a company in the Middle East. At first, I said there is no way we can accept. I wanted to move back home really badly. After a lot of praying, we felt that the right decision would be to accept the job offer... I realised that I have MY own family now. I became a mom and for me “home” is where Sydney, Liam and I are together, no matter where in the world that is.
Packing up our life in London and moving to another country that I’ve never set foot in was not easy, and doing it with a 3-month young baby... well, let’s just say it was crazy and most of the time I didn’t know what I was doing. Haha!
Flying alone with Liam for the first time was more than stressful, not for the baby but for mommy. After I tipped over his pram at the airport because I overloaded it with my overweight baby bag (yes I managed to use my super mom power and got him out of the pram before it hit the ground!), Liam decided it was a good time to poop himself up to his neck while we were going through security clearance. By this time I just wanted to pass out but we got through it and now he’s our little jet-setter. He loves to fly and taking an 11-hour flight alone with him is a breeze. He loves to travel, just like his mom and dad. I have written a blog about my toddler travel tips here.
Moving to the Middle East gave us a more flexible lifestyle. I was able to stay at home with Liam and travel to South-Africa often for him to spend quality time with both our families. We also wanted Liam to feel a part of South-Africa and part of our families and therefore we go to our house in St. Francis Bay every year for his birthday and celebrate it with family and friends. It’s our “thing”, a new family tradition, and by doing this we have created a special memory for him and a time that he looks forward to every year.
The journey continues
After 3 years in the Middle East, my husband’s work journey took us to Germany, where he is now working for Adidas. Because of the language barrier, Germany was not the easiest place to live in as expats. It took us longer to adapt, but it’s now almost 18 months later and we are still enjoying our adventure here in Germany and we still love being expats. We live in a small town in Bavaria and we travel to the most beautiful places in Europe as often as we can!
Lessons learned as an Expat:
After being an expat for 10 years I’ve learned a few valuable life lessons along the way.
I’ve learned to always stay true to myself and my beliefs
Sure, when moving to another country you have to allow for some change in certain areas of your life to adapt, but just because I live in Germany doesn’t mean I need to become a German. If people raise their kids a certain way here, it doesn’t mean I have to do exactly the same. We do life, the way we think are best for us as a family.
I’ve also learned to take life day by day
To be present in the moment and not to stress about the future too much. Not to get upset about small things but to laugh about it, it makes it much easier and sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.
I’ve learned that material things do not matter but creating memories does
I am actually a very shy person, and adapting to life in different countries helped me to get out of my comfort zone of being shy. As part of this journey, I have started a blog named The Gooseberry Blog 9 months ago where I write about our family travel adventures, what I wear, what I love and what I’m learning along the way. I also recently qualified as a stylist and image consultant, a big dream of mine and an opportunity that came my way because of our expat life.
Being an expat mom can also get very lonely at times, but luckily for me, I have made incredible friends with fellow expat Moms who are also trying to figure out this expat-motherhood-life on a daily basis. We support each other, lend a shoulder to cry on when things aren’t going that great and go out for a girls’ night when we just need to “be”.
If you are considering moving to another country, accept the opportunity with open arms. It will change your life, open your eyes to an entirely new world, test you and challenge you, but it will be the greatest adventure and when you’ve had enough you can always go back to your home country. I’ve realised with Liam that kids adapt so quickly, they don’t need to speak the same language as other kids in the playpark to be able to play together and have fun, it’s normally us parents who are more resistant to change.
In the end, we are all experiencing motherhood in different, as well as similar, ways around the world, so no matter where you are, always try to lend a hand, support the mom next to you and embrace this wonderful and blessed journey called motherhood.
Lots of Love
For more information please visit: More Inspirational Ideas with kids