Swiss Expat Series: Motherhood v3.0

swiss expat series

Oh my god… my personal life just took a beating

I tried to keep it light, but I guess the previous post was not that funny (after all?) or that light? It was, just as it was – plain, emotional and real. So today, I am going to touch a chord, which is the closest to my heart – being the mother to my almost 8-year-old. The last time I wrote about motherhood was when I was going through a role reversal from a career woman to a home mummy. And now again, I am back to being a career woman who tries hard to be a home mummy.

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“Aren’t you a natural?”

While a lot of you might think, this reversal would be more natural ‘coz I have done this thing longer than the “home mummy” thing. However, mind you, working in India when compared to Switzerland is a breeze (by that I mean no offence to the women back home doing it, respect is all I have). But the biggest change in India all the help you have to do what keep a work-life balance. Parents (or in-laws) come to your rescue during travel/hectic schedules and you have an army of helpers to manage all the background stuff. Sure, one needs to manage them, sure, one needs to go through a 1000 tantrums but it is not as challenging – especially physically and one does end up spending a lot of quality time with their child.

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BTW; I have been the mother who has taken calls while the baby howled in my lap, I’ve been the mother who rushed home to feed the baby during the lunch hour and I’ve also been the mother who returned to work very early on after her birth. I have been all that… and a lot more.

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But being a working mother here means managing the household chores, cooking, school, spending enough time, well being and so much, that too across 2 cities (I always land into these very special situations).

So how do I do it?

I don’t know, I never thought I could. Not until I found the superwoman costume one day on the banks of the Rhine. How I wish that was true, there is no magic, there is perhaps just strength and support. And if I have to be honest with it, sometimes I am not very good with it. Sometimes I falter at work (which is scrutinized) and sometimes I falter at home (where I am never evaluated) – maybe that’s what makes it work. There is a learning curve to everything. So if you’re in the same boat as me, meaning you want me in both places and enjoy it to the fullest, these observations may help you.

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Teach Your Child To Be Independent

With hardships, there are these unexpected rewards. While we don’t give our kids enough credit (Indians raise their kids a little differently), the results of their learnings (in times like these) are usually exponential. There are various behaviours that they exhibit – all pointing towards independence, all pointing towards, “it’s going to be fine, mama!”.

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For me, her steps are tiny but significant: eating independently, reading short stories and drinking more water. We must have done something right, ha?

Encourage Your Partner To Split The Load With You

I plan more than I used to, and I have more help employed. I work with a menu of the week now, not of the day. My husband and I split tasks, like groceries, laundry, bills, cleaning and cooking. I have the school bag (and the others) sorted over the weekend, and I make sure all homework is also complete by Saturday night or Sunday mornings. Yes, our weekends are no longer just about travel but that’s OK.

The cleaning lady comes once a week now, and does more than just cleaning. On the days that I am not home, we order homemade meals from some lovely Basel women who run tiffin services from home.

When I am in Basel, I prioritise time with my daughter over anything else. I rather spend time with her, than waste it waxing my legs.

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I wish I could do more, like go to the park with her and exercise, but there are only 24 hours in a day. Things are not perfect, but planning does make them better.

Prioritize Health Over Everything Else

Who would know this better than I would? Once bitten, twice shy.

Helplessness is one of the worst feelings that one can experience and if you give this a serious thought, this is one of the most powerful emotions that a human being can experience, of course in the most negative way. Avoiding it is the only cure. Only.

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And when your child falls ill, even if it’s a common cold, you’re bound to be worried. A mother blames herself right from the onset of her child’s sickness, punishing herself to sleepless nights, doctor visits and any illogical remedy that might help.

And I am very fortunate that at least one of my bosses (who’s not male ;)) gets it. If there is just one thing I can work on, at the moment, I would choose and pray for better health, for everyone, not just us.

Give your child time to get adjusted to your routine

While we managed the food, the chores, the health and the nutrition – those fell into the logical column of adapting to this “change”. The other aspect, the emotional one – the only way to handle that: is to give it time. It has been 4 months (not very long) but every time I leave, I have a heavy heart. Initially, she would shed a tear every time I’d leave for Vevey. But as time went by, she’s adjusted to it.

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We strive for better, each day at a time.

Are you also an expat mom trying to strike a balance between work and motherhood?
Tell us more about your journey in the comments section. For the last part…. Let’s wait, just a tad bit long(er).

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