Here’s a grandmother’s view of dealing with an expat family…thank you Mam.
When our daughter announced she was going to live in Chicago, my husband and I were both pleased and upset. We would miss all of them especially our only two grandchildren, then aged three years and six months, an age when they are funny and growing fast.
Who were we to complain? We had done exactly the same to our parents 30 years ago when we went to live in Kuwait. We told ourselves that at least today we have Skype, which enables us to speak to the family – we used to rely on posting cassette tapes back and forth. Thirty years ago we didn’t have a phone, the postal system wasn’t always reliable and there was no such thing as the internet. Most people had not even heard of Kuwait, let alone be able to pinpoint it on the map.
But, with this inside knowledge we knew that it would enrich their lives.
Five years and three countries later they still live abroad and we have had some wonderful holidays staying with them. Our arrival is always kept a secret from the grandchildren, so the highlight of our stay has to be their faces when they open the door and see us standing there. The first cuddle is the most wonderful thing.
Living with the family enables us to spend quality time with them, reading books, going to their school and meeting their friends, and being shown new places through a child’s eye. They know no different, so they are both curious and excepting. They are not on holiday so we try to fit in with the normal family routine enjoying the different ways of doing things.
Be warned though: this wonderful time is paid for in tears, many an airport is awash. Much better to say your goodbyes at home where the “teddies” live.
We are off now to Skype.
A grandmother's top tips:
- Set up a regular Skype time to stay in contact. It's amazing how quickly time flies and before you know it you haven't spoken for a month.
- Don't think that you're out of sight out of mind. It takes a lot of work to set up home in a new country. Be supportive.
- Learn to be self-sufficient when you visit. You may be on holiday but they are not. It's not easy bringing up children away from the support of the wider family, so lend a hand.
Do you have any tips to share? Drop us a line.