Expat Genius 20 Feb, 2017

The art of building your support system as an expat mum

by Micaela, Genius in Vevay

Being an expat mum is hard: we need a support system

We all need one, regardless of whether you’re a mum, an expat, a man or a child. We all need to feel supported, understood and that someone has our back.

After all, it is the number one complaint of expat mums: the fact of not having the family around to help out from time to time.

Yes, we all need our own support system.

And expat mums are no exception. We are a perfect example, actually. Simply because being an expat mother is a very tough, yet unpaid, job.

  • To begin with post-partum is a hard ride, and when you don’t have your family around you to help you through it, or simply lend you an ear or two, being home alone while the father is working not knowing what to do and battling against baby blues makes it 10 times harder.
  • Being isolated in your expat bubble with a newborn can have devastating consequences on your identity. It is common for expat mums to lose theirs as a combination of becoming mothers and being away from home.
  • While it does get better as they grow, the logistics of it remains a nightmare. What happens if you want to go back to work? Who takes care of the kids? What happens if they get sick? Who does all the household chores? You get the picture.
  • Last but not least, your worries about your kids will reach a whole new level. Will they be culturally estranged to me? Am I ruining them by exposing them to several languages or moving them to different countries? And the list goes on.

It is very easy to fall into despair and desperation during a rough patch as an expat mum if you don’t have a support net to fall back to.

They say it takes a tribe to raise a child. Well, expat mums don’t have a tribe at hand, so we need to build our own.

How to build a support system

I also had a fair share of expat mum overwhelm.

It took several “defeats” and many moments of despair. It took me going through all of that and making it to the other side to realize that I had made it, and to realize that I was doing a great job.

And after this notion hit me I tried to figure out what I had done that had allowed me to get to the point where I was a happy and serene expat mum.

It turns out that I had developed systems that helped me cope with the hard job of being a working expat mum with very little help and a travelling spouse.

I had artificially created the one thing that expat mums crave and need the most: I created my very own expat mum support system.

I personally define the expat mum support system as much more than just a collection of people you make every time you move.

To me, and expat mum support system involves working on your mindset, defining a purpose, organizing and automating your life, taking care of yourself, connecting to your home and present cultures, and of course, making friends.

But the number one rule to building it is that you have to start. Nobody else will do it for you.