” A journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.”Lao Tzu
It was more than ten years ago that my husband was offered a job abroad. I was due to give birth anytime when he accepted and left for his new job. It became a struggle to be in a long-distance relationship. He was only able to come home every 2-3 months but only stayed for a few days. This became our new normal. Luckily, I was not holding an office job and was a full-time mom to our newborn baby.
For two straight years, my husband worked overseas. One time during his leave from work, he brought up the idea of moving abroad and leaving the life we have in the Philippines. Our son then was only less than 2 years old. Before we knew it, we were already preparing to move. All we wanted was never to be apart again. Family is what matters most after all.
The transition wasn’t that easy. We could only afford to rent a Master’s bedroom as it would be too expensive to get a whole flat. We had housemates and shared payables like rent and utility bills.
My kid was only 2 years old. I had to be a full-time mom to a toddler and take care of household chores. Back home, I was used to having help.
Working was not an option. It would be too impractical to get a yaya. I also vowed to be a hands-on mom and spend more quality time with my family.
Good thing, my son who will turn 3 the following year was eligible to attend a Playgroup in a local school. He was to spend time in school for 2 hours every day. It was during this time that I got to spend some quality time with myself! (Finally, some “me” time!). Living in another country for the first time should not stop you from doing the usual things you enjoy doing back home.
Let me share some of the things I did during my first few years in a foreign country.
- Do some self-improvement. Enroll in an exercise class or get a gym membership. This will be an opportunity to meet new people and develop friendships with other people with different nationalities. I also got into running and joined in marathon events.
- Develop or practice a hobby you wanted to do for the longest time. Back in Manila, I enrolled in some culinary/baking courses. I decided to apply what I have learned and did a lot of baking.
- Earn a little from your hobby if you can. A colleague of my husband asked me to bake cookies for her to give away to friends as she had just given birth. I remembered baking for 3 days in a row. I earned a few hundred dollars from that.
- Try to learn a new language. Though this is not for everyone. You can enroll in some conversational language classes offered in community centers, which I did.
- Volunteer work. May it be in the community where you are at or at a church you attend. There will always be opportunities to do ‘unpaid’ work. I joined the residents’ community group and partook in some activities.
- Work part-time if possible. When your kid can already attend regular school, you can try applying for part-time jobs. I did some part-time at a local pharmacy doing cashier work. My next-door neighbor (yes, a local), was nice enough to collect my son from kindergarten and let him stay at her place until my husband arrived home from work.
Fast forward to today, stay at home moms have a lot more options. Online courses and jobs are readily available as compared ten years ago. Technology is also far more advanced. Now we have faster internet and 4G on our mobile phones.
I may be considered a late bloomer, but we never grow old learning a new skill or upgrading to a 2.0 version of ourselves. Online courses like General Virtual Assistance (GVA) offered by FHmoms give opportunities to young and old alike. I feel “empowered’ by being armed with the newest tools and web applications. This somehow makes me more confident to re-enter the workforce. My goal after I finish my GVA course? Nothing fixed yet, maybe enroll in another course? =)
Marie September D. Silva