Life as an Expat Mum
Published on: January 12, 2019
For those on the outside, we might look as if we’re living in paradise. But, expat mum and Steps with Theera board member Anna Raymond explains, we still face the usual day-to-day challenges, often isolated from our core support network, making self-care all the more important.
By Anna Raymond
As expat parents living in Thailand, we are often met with the usual cries from family when we return home on annual leave. “You’re so lucky” is one followed swiftly by “life must be a continuous holiday” and so on and so forth. If you’re like me at this stage, you’re smiling through gritted teeth!
The reality of living here is very different. It’s true that we have helpers at home that make domestic chores easier. It’s also true that we are usually more comfortable financially than our friends still at home. But what we also have is the guilt of being a stay-at-home parent and many of us try to overcompensate for that, enrolling the little ones in Little Gym and dance lessons and everything in between. Trying to cram as much as possible into our lives to show we’re not lazy, slumped on the couch, eating chocolate!
As an expat mum, most of us are extremely good at looking after the family … except we need to be careful we are not the ones running on empty.
But what we really don’t have is the family support or the comfortable feeling that only develops with long term friendships, especially at difficult or challenging times. Who hasn’t wished for that comforting hug from mum, sitting in contented silence drinking a cup of tea with a trusted friend from way back, or even the shorthand chat we use with our sisters? Sometimes that’s all that’s needed, but its thousands of miles away.
As an expat mum, most of us are extremely good at looking after the little and not so little members of the family, making sure everyone’s needs are met, except we need to be careful we are not the ones running on empty.
Self-care is an ugly word to parents, as if we should be embarrassed about having to look after ourselves. We actually have a duty to look after ourselves because without keeping well and healthy, how can we help our loved ones?
Truthfully it also sets a good example to our kids. In the world of offspring, it’s never too early for them to learn that everyone matters and no-one should be the sacrificial lamb!
Research has shown time and time again, that we all respond better and with more patience and enthusiasm to our families once we’ve had a little break from them.
Whatever you need, whether it’s a daytime movie, a mindfulness session, or even just a very early night, take the time to look after you! Then once your batteries are recharged, you can return energised and tackle all the family issues, Christmas, food battles that are still waiting for you.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
About the Author
Anna is a long-term resident in Bangkok, having lived here for over 20 years. Along with her husband Paul, they are raising their two children who are now teenagers. She left a career in banking and is now involved in a number of community organizations. Anna was a PTA president, an international school board member, and is currently a board member of LEAP.
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