Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Top 8 Must Buy Items for Expats in the Netherlands

I've entered the Expats Blog writing contest and would appreciate your help to make "Top 8 Must Buy Items for Expats in the Netherlands" a winner. To help, simply pop over to the website, read the article and give it a comment of appreciation, share it/like it on Twitter and Facebook using the links under the article on the Expats Blog - and that's it!

How many of the 8 items have you purchased since moving to the Netherlands?
Head over to http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/308/top-8-must-buy-items-for-expats-in-the-netherlands to find out.

The Trials and Tribulations of Expatmothers?

Photo Credit: AD- Passion (http://blog.ad-passion.com)
There's an interesting and thought provoking UN Special article I thought I'd share with you called "Expatmothers" (thanks to Live Life Now Coaching for sharing this article). The article describes how it is to be the mother of children who live in different countries. It's interesting because I can relate to many of the issues described even though I am not transplanting my children every few years and my children are in fact living in the country they were born in even if I am not.

Parenting in an unfamiliar environment is hard - and it doesn't just have to be unknown for the children. The children may have known nothing else but when the parent has to make decisions and make the right choice for their children unfamiliar cultures, systems and processes can be real show stoppers. Take education as an example. The Dutch system is different to the British system and is unfamiliar to me, even though my husband went through the system himself and can help explain up to a point. To make choices for my children based on a system I went through decades ago is hard enough, let alone having to fathom out and truly understand how a different system works before you can make the right choice for your kids. And that's just one topic.

The lack of support network is also something I identify with. If couples have two sets of parents they can call on to help out when the going gets tough then they are extremely lucky. Most people don't have that luxury for one reason or another but do have at least one set of family to call upon. Expats generally don't have that. They have to make a new network and create support around them and that can take a long time.

And my children growing up without the close geographical proximity of their grandparents is also an issue I can relate to. Of course expats make the best of it, but it's not always the ideal situation.

In any case, take a read and let me know what you think.

UN Special - Expatmothers

What other issues do "expatmothers" face?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Expat Parenting: Sharing Culture and Traditions

How much of my British past should I share with my children?
Photo Credit: Gary Raven
When we raise our children in a country other than the one we were born in is it a good idea to share our past with them? Should they know what it was like to grow up in their mother's birth country? Should they speak their father's language if it is of no relevance to the country they are growing up in? And if we want to share our childhood culture and home land traditions with our offspring how do we go about doing that?

I've been thinking a lot lately about creating a treasure trove of memories for my children (in the words of Gretchin Ruben) and creating traditions that we can keep year after year. It was something triggered by Christmas last year and something that sits deep with me as a mother.

When I became a mother I found myself looking back a lot. What could I remember about my own childhood in England? What was Christmas like for me when I was young? When my eldest started school I cast my mind back to my school days and pondered how different his years in school will be to mine.

I started thinking about the fact that my three boys will be bilingual at such a young age - something I had to work hard at and never really achieved until I moved to the Netherlands. Their childhoods will be so different to mine, not just because they are a different generation, but because they were born and are being raised in a different country than I was. It makes for interesting parenting because I do want to share what it was like for me growing up in England. I want them to be able to connect to the family that is still in England (and Wales of course.....) and I want them to appreciate and notice the differences when we go back to England for holidays and visits.

But just how easy is it to share the culture and traditions of a country you were born in but which means little to your own children?

To find out, I have spoken to some expat mothers about sharing their past and the culture and traditions of their birth countries with their children. I asked them which tools they use to share information, whether they think it's important to even try and show their kids what their home country is and was like and about the challenges they face sharing the best of their life in their birth country. For the next couple of weeks you can read their experiences and share your own.