MOVING OVERSEA AS A SOLO MUMMY
This is a blog post that is close to my heart. Being a solo mum wasn't my first choice but sometimes things happen and that is how it ends up. It has been me and my little adventurous boy for the best part of his journey. I have had some great highs and real lows. Parenting isn't easy, as any parent knows, however, the fact that it is just me, isn't going to stop our progress.
Often if I go online, I will see happy pictures of families, which include both parents. Ideally, that is what most people want. Two parents, parenting together. But what if your family looks different? Who do you look too, for some inspiration and guidance on navigating life, and are the options that you once wanted still open to you?
Now before I go any further, I write as a solo parent because that is my experience. I do not discuss my relationship with my son's father in posts, as for me this is a personal part of my journey that changes and evolves. I never want to show a lack of respect for him, his position, or our experiences and how we have both navigated life as parents. We have had some good times and some not so good. We both have had to and continue to grow through our own personal experiences. My son’s father has supported the decision to move overseas nonetheless and I am grateful for this support. In addition, it is important for me to acknowledge that back in the UK I had a support network of grandparents, family, and friends, but solo parenting has been my reality from pretty early on.
MOVING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY: PREPARING YOUR CHILD
I recently did a podcast for Living In Colour where we discussed the process of moving overseas with my son and how I prepared him for that. If you are in a similar position, the advice I would always give is:
Make them a massive part of the conversation
Ensure family are supportive around your child even if they have concerns
Listen to your child's fears and concerns
Plant the seed beforehand, a year in advance is a good time to start.
Discuss the process every step of the way
Explore the positives but be honest about some of the difficulties you both might experience
Create ways that your child can feel connected to family, for example, consider an electronic device that they can use to message family.
Let them help you pack, clean, and filter your lives.
I am sure there are other factors that you could consider but these are some of the most important ones I can think of to hand.
LIVING IN ANOTHER COUNTRY
The excitement has worn off! It is a pandemic and normality is not normal for those that already live here, let alone those that have just arrived, like us! So what is it like living in another country as a solo mum!
1. People often ask me where my husband is? The fact that little ole me, came with my son, on my own is a shocker at times.
2. Some days are hard. The first couple of months my son cried most nights before bed. The first month was the hardest. I felt terrible. I questioned what I had done. Had I made a mistake. There was no way of comforting his tears. At this point, it was our family that supported him. Every night calling him on Facetime or WhatsApp, reassuring him. My sister’s friends who know him spoke to him. I would have been lost without this support. There are times as a mother, that you feel you are failing as a parent and this by far is within my top 10 moments.
3. Some days are amazing, we are exploring this new life and adventure together. I feel so privileged to be able to expose my son to a world so far from our own. We have seen things and places that only we will remember. He is able to call home and tell his family about learning a new language. He has started activities he may have never had an opportunity to do, such as snowboarding. He has met people from different parts of the world. He has grown in confidence, his ability to explore and navigate new surroundings and make new friends.
4. You will sometimes have to neglect yourself and your emotions! What do I mean by this? When my son was having a difficult time, I could not break down if overwhelmed and have a cry. I had to constantly keep it together (minus one time at work!). This whole experience will test you. It will test your emotions and your resilience. It will help you grow in confidence but also expose all of your vulnerabilities. But when you are a solo parent, you don't always have a safe space to do that. That is hard! You will need your support network. Many of my friends have had their ears ready, which I absolutely needed.
5. Your child or children will make friends and hopefully, they will fit right in. My son recently had his school report and his teacher said, it is funny as it is like he has always been here! That melted my heart. Your child or children will adjust but you do need to assess your own child. Know their personality and be honest! What can they deal with and what will they struggle with! This way you can best support them.
6. Get them involved if they are old enough even now, with the adulting! I don't just make decisions and he follows. I discuss them with him, in ways he understands. For example, when we go food shopping he now understands the conversion from tenge to pounds. Previously he would just pick something up, for example, an imported pack of potato chips that cost £4 a pack! Now, as he knows how to convert, he doesn't pick these items up! He feels empowered and knowledgeable, telling me how expensive this item is.
7. You may miss home and you may get lonely. Even the little things that annoy you, you might miss! You may wonder if you undervalued your life back home. The importance of friends, community, and feeling a part of it. As a single person, you may miss companionship and courting. The idea of meeting someone may become less of a possibility, as you venture around the world, or be the complete opposite. The reality is you may experience a wide range of feelings, from ‘oh my gosh, why didn’t I do this sooner?’, to 'I just want to go home’. I guess for me this is part of the beauty, experiencing different feelings and growing through them.
Overall, so far expat life is exciting, challenging, and often fast-paced. We have taken a minute to get to grips and are still finding our groove. I have had some time to reflect on what has worked so far and what isn’t working. This has been important. The process of processing! As we head into a New Year and a new term at work, I feel better equipped to navigate how I want to ‘expat’, having dipped my toes for a taste so far!
*No affiliated program or commission has been used/earned from this blog post. All recommendations are from personal choice.