At the end of November 2013, I celebrated my five years in Switzerland, Nyon to be precise. The past five years I have had many ups and downs, highs and lows, burn outs and well, whatever the opposite of burn out is I think I’ve been there too. The ebbs and flows, this rollercoster of emotions, means life is never dull. I also live a very fit and active lifestyle, so I’m usually quite good at balancing everything out.
Sometimes, though, despite the above, the stress of it all means I fall ill, and when I fall ill I am out for the count and recuperation takes its merry old time. This blog sits idle during these times.
The stress has, for the most part, been caused by the fact that I am not only an expatriate parent, but also I am parenting my son and taking care of my household alone: I don’t have family nor support personnel to prop me up when the going gets tough. I also am independent, so finances fluctuate considerably. Thankfully I do have friends and many, many acquaintances and followers: your messages over the past weeks have been wonderful.
In any event, I’ve written about the need for support many times before on this blog, and as I come up for air after another February cold & flu season, I find myself needing to write yet another to remind readers that support is crucial to making life work when you become a parent. It’s also crucial when you live as an expatriate. So doubly important when you are an expatriate AND a parent. If you are struggling, if you need help, find out what will make things easier, communicate those needs to your loved ones, and then set about making changes. Stress and adrenaline keep you going short-term, but the burn out can have dire consequences on your health. I know that changes are HARD, but changes to make things better are SO WORTH IT.
To close this blog, let me do so by talking about the chosen image for this blog. You’re probably asking why this mandala. Well, I became a parent nearly 7 years ago and a mother-to-mother support person at almost the exact same time. Two years later I arrived in Switzerland and set up a parenting network and certified as a breastfeeding counsellor and birth companion. The above Mandala has been favourite of mine for most of these transitions. It shows the love and support that a mother should have when becoming a parent, it shows the support I try to offer parents who hire me or sign up for my workshops or online support groups, it shoes life, it shows colour. To me, it also shows what parents NEED and what parents should strive for when raising their kids. And not just when their children are babies. Always! Each phase is challenging, but rewarding. It can be more rewarding than challenging if we have a support system to share these times with! I hope that living here in Switzerland as an expatriate you can find what you need and when you do, grasp it!