TOP TIPS FOR MAINTAINING YOUR IDENTITY (AND SANITY) AS AN EXPAT MUM
by Edith Pajot Aguiar – registered life coach specialised in supporting expat wives
Being or becoming a mum in another country can be very challenging. Motherhood and expatriation are both life-changing experiences. You are never the same person again – your perspective on life changes. You change, as do your needs and it is very easy to lose yourself.
BUILD A NEW SUPPORT SYSTEM
As an expat mum you often find yourself cut off from the support networks of extended family and close friends. You may also lack the emotional support of your partner, who may be in a demanding job or travelling a lot. So, you can be pretty much on your own at a time when you need more support than ever.
This is the time to reach out to others. Organise playdates with other mums, join a parents or children’s activity class or the PTA of your children’s school and start to ease your way into new relationships. You may not feel you have the time and energy for socialising, but it is essential to build a new social network from which you can benefit later.
GET HELP AROUND THE HOME
If housework, administrative tasks or shopping make you feel overwhelmed or depressed, consider paying someone to help, even if it’s just a few hours a week. Having a babysitter or a part-time nanny will give you at least a couple of hours to yourself – for going to the gym or hairdresser or doing the shopping without children in tow.
Try to get your child registered as early as possible for child-care. Creches give priority to dual working families, however garderies are more accessible.
GET PROFESSIONAL EMOTIONAL HELP
Being an expat mum is stressful and to cope with stress, you need to be able to express your
feelings and emotions. Usually we turn to our partner and close friends, however, sometimes you may prefer to talk to a neutral person. Seek out the help of a psychologist, career or life coach who understands the needs of expats.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Embrace the local culture. Why not start with your neighbours? Try to learn a bit of French, if possible enroll in French classes or hire a private teacher to come to your home. How about organising a private group class with other mums? Listen to the radio, watch TV and try to read the newspaper. Discover the city, take public transport and walk around. Choose a local tradition and discover it with your family, such as the Escalade.
PUT YOURSELF FIRST
As an expat mum, you often feel all the weight of your family on your shoulders, logistically and emotionally. You need to adapt to a new culture while being the stabilising force during the transition. It is normal and necessary to dedicate a lot, if not all of, your time and energy to your family. However, you can quickly feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities. As a result, you may experience a lack of purpose and all the emotions that come with it : frustration, resentment, loneliness and exhaustion. How can you support your family if you feel that way?
“You can’t pour from an empty glass. Take care of yourself first.”
We tend to believe that self-care is selfishness but this is about survival and self-preservation. Seeing yourself as a priority is a necessity rather than self-indulgence.
Once you realise that it is essential to you take care of yourself, put it into practice! Take some me-time every now to remember who you are. Not you as a mum, JUST YOU. Think about what makes you feel good and go for it! A coffee with friends? Reading a book or a magazine? Going for a run? Walking in the woods or by the lake? Meditating? Watching an episode of your favourite series? Preparing yourself a healthy meal and eating it peacefully? Having a massage? All of the above?
Take a pen and a paper and start your own “Treat Myself List”. Ask yourself : What is the best way for me to have a break? What makes me regain energy? Which one is my top priority? What do I need to do to include it in my busy schedule? How frequently –once a month, a week? You get the idea…
DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE
Purpose is the driving force which gives meaning to your life. When you have a purpose, everything is more clear and you know where to go. It also gives you the confidence to change, to redefine yourself and evolve. Maybe you’re happy as a stay-at-home mum, that’s great! Think about how you can enjoy it even more or make plans to be the mother who you want to be. Perhaps you love being an expat mum, but you need another dimension to your life. That’s awesome! Then find something to do with that other dimension. Is it work? Is it a hobby? Volunteering? Perhaps you would love to have more balance between the different areas of your life. Reflect on the areas that need your attention and see how you can change things.
Don’t know where to start, what you want or feeling totally lost?
Why not ask the help of a life coach?
A few months after I became a mum, I experienced feelings of identity loss and lack of purpose. I needed emotional support badly and fortunately, I turned to life coaching for help. It was crucial in the sense that it helped me reflect upon my needs, desires, purpose and goals. It made me clarify my ideas, set up priorities and helped me find my purpose : I became a life coach who gives the same support to other expat women.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP FOR EXPAT MUMS
Join Edith Pajot and Barbara de Angelis for a Personal Development Workshop for expat mum
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
How to :
Define your own identity from a psychological point of view
Reevaluate your life
Work out your priorities and goals
Work out a plan to realise your goals
Edith Pajot Aguiar: Life coach specialized in supporting expat wives
Barbara De Angelis: Psychologist and psychotherapist
WHEN : 4 December 2017 from 9-11am
WHERE: Espace de Quartier, Champel, Chemin Edoard-Tavan 5bis
COST : FREE
LANGUAGE: The workshop is in French, but the presenters speak Italian, Portugese and English, so participants are welcome to express themselves in these languages too !
A babysitting service will be available.
REGISTER: Registrations are open until 28th November – Register here.